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New Technology Helps Scientists Study 17-Year Cicadas

July 16, 2013 2 min read

these cicadas emerge only once every 17 years on the East coast of the United States

Cicadas.... These interesting insects sleep and feed underground and then only emerge once every 17 years!  When they do come above ground, they're nearly impossible to miss in parts of the United States.  You'll hear their buzzing mating call filling the air, or they may shed their exoskeletons all over your yard.  They are so ubiquitous during their few weeks above ground, that they trend on Twitter with the hashtag #swarmageddon.

New technology helps scientists study cicadas

After studying cicadas with pens and paper maps for decades, this time, scientists can use smart phones and GPS.  Advances in technology have been greatly benefiting University of Connecticut entomologist John Cooley's 17-year cicada studies.  The article Cicada Spawn Tracked by Scientists Armed with Technologyon Bloomberg mentions his study of Brood II cicadas (Magicicada septendecim), which are an East coast group whose last emergence was in 1996.  In the article, John Cooley talks about his research experience in 2013 vs. 1996.  Can you believe that in 1996, they mailed out postcards to neighborhoods to find out cicada distribution information?!  So high-tech.

New technology like GPS and iPads track cicada distribution

Now in 2013, people can visit the RadioLab Cicada Tracker site to help with the study!  Click "See Cicadas?" to fill out a Cicada Sighting Form!  Click "Map", and you can see where the 17-year cicadas are emerging!  Also, if you're hungry.... Jenna Jadin and the University of Maryland Cicadamaniacs have made a cookbook filled with delectable recipes like cicada-rhubarb pie and chocolate covered cicadas.  Bon appetit!
Cupcakes with bugsweird strange food

For those who don't find insects quite so appetizing, you can still celebrate cicada season with these cute cupcakes from Whole Foods.

Just imagine what awesome new technology we will have in the next 17 years!

By Jennie S.

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