KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Here’s an app that’s meant to be a bit buggy. With millions of cicadas reemerging after 17 years underground, Cicada Safari is offering its users an opportunity to share photos of the noisy insects so their progression can be mapped.
The app, created by Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, verifies the photos and posts the location to a live map showing other sightings across the eastern U.S. Find it on the Apple Store or on Google Play.
This year’s cicada invasion happens only once every 17 years. For almost two decades, they’ve been maturing underground, sucking sap from tree roots. Now millions of the insects are set to burst forth once the days are consistently 64 degrees or warmer for several weeks.
The cicadas are set to start emerging in early May in the southern states, while southern Indiana and Ohio should see an emergence in mid-May. Northern Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey should see it a week later, according to Cicada Safari.
While cicadas are poised to infest whole swaths of American backyards this summer, the red-eyed bugs offer a chance for home cooks to turn cicadas into snacks.
Full of protein, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb, cicadas were used as a food source by Native Americans and are still eaten by humans in many countries.
But humans aren’t the only ones who find the bugs appetizing. The Washingtonian, a monthly magazine distributed in the Washington, D.C. area, reported that residents are being warned about possible rat infestations since the rodents find cicadas quite delicious.
Health officials warn against leaving food and garbage outside, and they urge residents to clear away yard clutter to help prevent rats from building nests.
Need more on cicadas? Here’s a fun fact: Cicadas’ cacophonous mating song can drown out the noise of passing jets. Who knew?!
The Associated Press contributed to this report.