Story at a glance
- Brood X cicadas are expected to emerge in the Eastern United States this May after a 17-year cycle underground.
- Scientists are concerned about the impact of climate change on this species and are hoping to learn more this year.
- A new app allows users to submit photos of cicadas to researchers for verification and study.
Move aside Gen Z, Brood X is coming. It's just not clear where yet.
Of course, scientists like entomologist Gene Kritsky, from Mount St. Joseph University, have a general idea that the latest brood of cicadas will emerge in the Eastern U.S. — especially considering past appearances. But it has been 17 years since they last came out from underground, and a lot has changed.
"Back in the 1890s, the [United States Department of Agriculture] thought cicadas were going extinct," Kritsky told CNN. "Distribution is being impacted by deforestation for agriculture, and now deforestation for urbanization."
It’s not clear how climate change will have affected this year’s Brood X cicadas, which are expected to emerge in 14 states and the District of Columbia. But researchers at Mount St. Joseph are asking the public to help track cicada appearances using a new app: Cicada Safari, available for free on the Apple app store and Google Play. Kritsky estimates that about 35 million Americans will interact with these creatures, and he’s hoping at least some of them will snap a picture and submit it on the app for verification.
"My hope is that we'll get a good baseline this year, to serve as a way of really verifying the way the cicada emergences of the future take place," Kritsky told CNN. "I'm 67, but I'll be very interested to see how Brood X compares when it comes out again in 2038."
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