Scientists want you—yes, *you*—to help them track cicada orgies (data acquistion)

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https://slate.com/technology/2021/05/cic...earch.html

EXCERPTS: . . . There are several groups of so-called periodical cicadas that emerge en masse at regular intervals. Across the Midwestern, Southern, and Eastern United States, 15 different broods—each assigned a Roman numeral—emerge in 13- or 17-year increments. There are three species of 17-year cicadas—Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini, and Magicicada septendecula—in most 17-year broods. Four species of cicadas crop up across the 13-year cycles. This year belongs to Brood X—which will emerge across a vast swath of the United States, from Illinois to Delaware—and, if you’re game for some scientific sleuthing, to you.

[...] Suddenly, the insects are everywhere. In places where they’re densest, “cicadas drip from tree branches like trees heavy with fruit,” says Kevin Munroe, Long Island preserves director at the Nature Conservancy. A few days after busting out, males start to “sing” by vibrating membranes called tymbals on their abdomens. They’re hoping that females will flick their wings in response, indicating they’ve been wooed—but with so many males courting at once, Kritsky says, a tree can feel like “a giant cicada singles bar.” The insects are loud crooners. Kritsky has measured choruses reaching 96 decibels, comparable to a rattling subway. Pity the humans attempting to hold an outdoor conversation among a thick cluster. “You’re yelling at who you’re talking to,” Kritsky says. “Even after you go inside your car and close your door, your ears are still ringing.” Amid the din, the insects mate, lay eggs, and die. It’s a 17-year buildup to a brief party: The hullabaloo is over within about six weeks.

The cicadas venture out in such spectacular numbers, and across such a wide band, that there’s no way for an individual scientist or even a brigade of scientists to keep up. Scientists have long recruited laypeople to help survey the emergence. In the cicada realm, citizen science dates to at least the 1840s.

[...] Scientists still need more bug-gawkers. “There are a lot of questions we can pursue,” says DeAnna Beasley, an integrative ecologist at the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga. “It’s just a matter of having a lot of eyes out there making observations.” That’s where you come in. These are some of the questions researchers hope to dig into when Brood X blankets parts of the American Midwest, South, and East Coast. If you live in one of the 15 states (or Washington, D.C.) about to be teeming with new, winged arrivals, you can help answer them.

[...] To help the scientists probe this question, collect a couple dead cicadas. Write down where you found them, pop them in the freezer for 24 hours, and swaddle them in paper towels to sop up any moisture. (You can find more information, as well as the mailing address, on the project website.) “We definitely depend on citizen scientists for projects like this,” Beasley says... (MORE - details)
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