Want to report a cicada sighting? There’s an app for that

There's a way for you to get in on the action when it comes to cicadas this year.

You can watch Brood X cicadas emerge in real-time and report your sightings using the Cicada Safari app. 

Dr. Gene Kritsky, a leading cicada expert and entomologist at Mount St. Joseph University, said the app will help his research.

Users can submit photographs and videos of periodical cicadas to Cicada Safari, and after the photos are verified they will be posted to the live map. 

The app's goal is to map the 2021 emergence of the periodical cicada Brood X (and other broods of course). As of March 12, there are already more than dozen images of cicada nymphs submit. 

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Crowdsourcing the emergence isn't new. Kritsky said it dates back to the 1840s, when people across the country would mail reports of sightings to researchers. 

"I've been crowdsourcing periodical cicadas since 1987. That year I had a cicada hotline," Kritsky said. 

A map showing where Brood X periodical cicadas are expected to emerge in Spring 2021. Gene Kritsky, Mount St. Joseph University and published in USA TODAY

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When those first morning calls started coming in 1987, his answering machine broke. Then in 2004, people were emailing him their sightings. On that first day of emergence, he got an email a minute for "several hours." 

The app was created by students working at the university's Center for IT Engagement. Student researchers will also monitor and log information about user submissions, updating the map in nearly real-time. 

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