AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Prior to their late-spring emergence as red-eyed, orange-winged adults, periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) spend 13 or 17 years underground, tapped into tree roots. That’s a long time to be exposed to pesticides, heat and other stressors associated with the urban environment.
Last year, we launched Urban Buzz, a citizen science project, to document the effects of urbanization on periodical cicadas. Specifically, we’re looking at how urban stress affects cicada development and symmetry of their body parts – their legs, their wings, and their noisemaking organs (called tymbals). We predict that cicadas experiencing greater stress during development will have greater differences between parts on the left and right sides of their bodies; in other words, more stressed cicadas will be more crooked. We call this ‘crookedness’ fluctuating asymmetry.
How does it work?
We’re psyched to include the 2014 broods in our study as these will be the first 13-year cicadas collected (Looking at you Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Kentucky!) and will represent populations in more rural areas (Hello, Iowa and Illinois!). To test our hypotheses, we need samples from forests, cities, suburbs and farmlands – in other words, across a gradient from low to high urbanization.
And while you’re out and about on your scientific cicada safaris, please do consider participating in these other cicada citizen science projects:
- Our colleagues Chris Simon, John Cooley and Dave Marshall are once again mapping cicada broods this summer. Report cicada emergences near you! And check out their real time map of 2014 sightings.
- Those of you in the eastern parts of Cincinnati can help Gene Kritsky and Roy Trautman learn more about the new 13-year cicada brood by snapping photos and reporting observations of emergence (including location information).