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The Bicod X cicadas are here – and yes, there is a program for that

A few weeks ago, Michelle Watson woke up with a deafening sensation in her ear. “What’s that noise?” he wondered.

He went outside to his yard and saw tiny insects cracked by a gold bullet coming out of the ground and crawling through the trees. What Watson sees is the coming of thousands Pig X cicadas, part of a tiny insect that has slept for 17 years before it comes out “screaming,” married – about three weeks of thunder.

Watson lived in Las Vegas for 20 years, but moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia last year. He had seen the cicadas media videos, which appear once a generation in much of the eastern United States, but he thought they were the worst scams he had ever heard in his life. He says: “I thought, ‘What’s the matter?’

In the face of strange threats, however, he suddenly realized what was great — and did what every modern person could do: He Googled it. Within minutes, he was down Cicada Safari, the next cicada program.

“We receive 16,000 photos a day, and at this rate, we can see half a million.”

Programs such as iNaturalist, PictureThis, and PlantIn have been a known relief from the epidemic. Many of these programs are digital, and allow users to send photos and videos to learn about science. This success has inspired Cicada Safari producer Gene Kritsky, a pest specialist and professor of biology at Mount St. Joseph University, to present his work as a way to follow Brood X.

From ancient times many people have been collecting information about events that happen once in a single generation, says Kritsky. Researchers in 1858 wrote to journalists urging readers to share their views, while postcards were popular in the early 20th century. By the late 1980’s, Kritsky was using a telephone that often stopped. so that the tape on his voicemail machine is interrupted. In 2004, after the end of Brood X’s release, he encouraged people to send views via email with the included photos. He received about 1,000.

The Cicada Safari app allows users to track cicadas on a map, as well as draw pictures of insects they see and submit to the app. And it’s going well, with about 180,000 downloads – not a bad program that most people can’t use for more than three days of insects.

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