Dr. Gene Kritsky, editor-in-chief of American Entomologist and a professor of at the College of Mount St. Joseph (MSJ), is an expert on periodical cicadas — also known as Magicicadas, 13-year cicadas, or 17-year cicadas because they spend most of their lives underground and only emerge every 13 or 17 years, depending on their broods. He even wrote a book on them called Periodical Cicadas: The Plague and the Puzzle.
Back in 1988, Dr. Kritsky got a call about some unusual cicada sightings and observed some himself, which made him wonder if these were part of a previously undiscovered brood. However, in order to be sure, he would have to wait 13 years to see if they emerged again.
“That suggested that we had a thirteen year brood here in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky,” he said to a local TV station. “But to verify it to make sure we were right, we had to wait another thirteen years.”
Thirteen years later in 2001, they were observed again in southern Ohio and in parts of northern Kentucky. That verified the existence of the hidden brood, which is expected to emerge again soon in 2014.
“This is a brood that has been here for well over a century, but has been missed by researchers going back to the late 19th century,” said Kritsky.
According to the MSJ Cicada Website, “The oldest record of this brood may date from 1871 with a newspaper report in the Cincinnati Enquirer. They were reported again in 1923 and 1936, but were not recognized as a distinct brood because they emerged simultaneously with Broods XIV and X, respectively.”
People in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky are encouraged to help with the mapping efforts by sending photographs and GPS locations to the MSJ researchers so that they can carefully document this small brood’s distribution.
“If people would like to be part of the study, we really need their help,” Kritsky said. “We’d like for them to join our lab by setting their iPhones and their Droids so that the location services get embedded in photographs.”
To submit a photo, make sure that your phone has the GPS turned on so the location is embedded in the photograph, and then visit http://www.msj.edu/cicada to send in reports and photos when the cicadas emerge.
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