‘Cicada Safari’ helps scientists track periodical cicadas across Southern Illinois

Read the full story in the Southern Illinoisian.

What’s that sound? It may be periodical cicadas emerging years ahead of schedule across parts of Illinois.

The 13-year cicadas known as Brood XIX — or the “Great Southern Brood” — are not expected in Southern Illinois until 2024. The same is true for the 17-year Brood XIII cicadas native to northern Illinois. But different cicada species from both broods have been spotted in large numbers in different pockets of the state, according to the University of Illinois Extension…

According to Cicada Mania, a website dedicated to “the most amazing insects in the world,” the following Southern Illinois counties may expect to see early emerging Brood XIX periodical cicadas, roughly from May to late June: Franklin, Williamson, Gallatin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Saline, Washington and Marion. Others may be found in parts of central Illinois.

Scientists are asking citizens to help them track these off-schedule periodical cicadas so that they can learn more about them. Katie Dana, an entomology specialist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, said that northern Illinois residents have made numerous reports of sightings. But less is known about what’s happening in Southern Illinois.

“It’s kind of a weird year” with the pandemic limiting travel “because a lot of the cicada researchers can’t get out to these spots as easily,” she said. She encouraged Southern Illinoisans interested in citizen-scientist work to download a phone app called “Cicada Safari” and help fill in those gaps.

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