The Cicadas Are Coming!

Monday, April 01, 2013

The last time Cicadas appeared in NYC, the Brian Lehrer Show was called "On the Line," there was no such thing as an "embedabble map," and WNYC's Data News team didn't exist. Luckily that's all changed. John Keefe of WNYC Data News discusses their latest project: Cicada Tracker. WNYC is asking citizen scientists around the region to build a detector that reports back soil temperatures. When we begin to see consistent readings of 64° we'll know the cicadas or on their way!

Your Cicada Tracker Guide

Check out the Cicada Tracker map below!


John Keefe

Comments [14]

Henryk Behnke, Staten Island Museum from Staten Island

Find out more about the 17-year Cicada at the trusted source for everything cicada since 1881: the Staten Island Museum, which holds the largest Cicada Collection in North America, second in the world only to that of the British Museum.
Explore the exhibit and join one of the programs in May and June. For questions about cicadas contact Ed Johnson, Director of Science at (718) 727-1135 or by email at

Apr. 04 2013 04:26 PM
Diane Matyas from Staten Island, NY

Staten Island is "ground zero" for NYC Magicicadas, the species named by renowned local expert William T. Davis. If ANYONE want to see and here them "Come On Ovah" The Staten Island Museum's exhibition "They're Baaack" is open for business- they have chocolate Cicadas, the largest collection of cicadas (behind the British Museum) AND lots of scheduled walks & workshops - especially in June. ...oh the $80. thermometer is not necessary- we will know when they emerge- just listen for those fellas calling to their sweethearts after 17 years of puberty!

Apr. 02 2013 08:24 PM
Chris Simon from Storrs, CT

Great project! I noticed in your interview with John Keefe that you talked about the cicadas appearing in April. Although the periodical cicadas are expected to come out in late April or early May in North Carolina, they are not expected in the NY metro area until Late May or Early June. See to see a map of the entire emergence with real time crowd sourced reports (probably starting in late April) and to report your sightings. Remember that the cicadas are very patchy so they won't be everywhere. Staten Island is a good place to see periodical cicadas. There are no records for Manhattan or Brooklyn. The last record from the Bronx was in 1911. The cicadas will come out in the Hudson River Valley as far north as Albany. The heaviest emergences of Brood II in NJ are in Passaic, Morris, Bergen, Somerset, Essex, and Union. There are also a few records from Sussex, Middlesex, Hunterdon (in the east only--Brood X is in the west), Monmouth, Burlington, Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May.

Apr. 01 2013 02:00 PM
tom from astoria

What's digging up the lawn? SKUNKS. I know from the last few summers in Buffalo, where we had a lot of Cicadas, that at night skunks come out and dig up little spots all over the lawns looking for grubs and moles, and cicadas are very large grubs not far from the surface that skunks love to eat. I have video of a cicada turning into the adult form over several hours in the middle of the night last summer.

Apr. 01 2013 11:11 AM
Elaine from Bloomingdale NJ

we ended up with a cicada in OUR BED the day our daughter and son-in-law moved into their home in Arlington VA during the 2004(?) return in VA.
We can only surmise that when the mattress was carried through the back yard the cicada hitched a ride and it ended up at my toes in the bed as I stretched out to go to sleep that night... my own private horror movie.
I am a gardener and not usually freaky about insects, but these guys fly AT you rather than AWAY and totally creep me out. And the noise is relentless and deafening.
I must admit, as much as I am looking forward to spring, I am now not so privately dreading the return of the cicadas.

Apr. 01 2013 11:03 AM
Besa from Norwell, Ma

That explains the sound I hear coming from the woods.

Apr. 01 2013 11:02 AM
Graham Walker from Bronx

Cicadas show where prime numbers show up in nature (their breeding cycle lengths) Also, there are smart phone apps that allow noise frequencies to be measured.

Apr. 01 2013 11:00 AM

Everything u need to know about cicada but didn’t know who to ask

Apr. 01 2013 10:59 AM
lonnie from ny

I believe that Pam and DickeyFuller from DC are correct: "We get these every summer...." Doesn't a new brood emerge every year from a different population? Please ask.

Apr. 01 2013 10:58 AM
Renate Bieber from Westfield

17 Years ago I was playing with my baby daughter thinking how she would be 17 years old the next time the cicadas come - and here she is - a beautiful 17 year high school junior! She'll be a 34 year old woman the next time!

Apr. 01 2013 10:58 AM
dk in BK


Apr. 01 2013 10:53 AM
DickeyFuller from DC

We get these every summer in the DC area. What's the dif between the annual ones and these 17-year bugs?

PS The "xxx-a-geddon" thing is totally played.

Kind of like the ". . . wait for it . . . " thing. It's done.

Apr. 01 2013 10:52 AM
Jed from Manhattan

I thought Cicadas were last on the east coast in 2005. I remember them blanketing the ground in Princeton, NJ that summer.

Apr. 01 2013 10:50 AM
Pam from ny

bri--Please ask: Doesn't a new brood emerge every year from a different parent population?

Apr. 01 2013 10:49 AM

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