The New Forest Cicada (Cicadetta montana s. str.) is the only cicada native to the UK. Between May and July it sings with its distinctive high-pitched song, particulartly difficult for most adults to hear as it is at the upper limit of our hearing range. Sightings of the cicada within the New Forest date back to 1812, but the last unconfirmed sighting was in 2000. However, it's likely that colonies remain undiscovered in less visited parts of the forest. The New Forest Cicada Project aims to equip the millions of visitors to the forest with a smart phone app that can detect and recognise the song of the cicada, and hopes to rediscover it this coming summer.
On these pages you can find information about the research team, the project, and the progress so far. Follow our progress on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to our mailing list! Once available, you will be able to download the app. Please don't hesitate to contact us for any queries regarding the project and its related work.
We have now deployed over 50 acoustic cicada detectors in the New Forest so far and are now waiting for some warm sunny days. The detectors wake up every five seconds during the middle of the day and listen for the song of the cicada. If they detect something that sounds promising they’ll make a 30 second recording. We check on the detectors every couple of weeks and will be moving them around to cover promising areas - sunny south-facing clearings where the cicada can sit in a tree sunning itself throughout the hottest part of the day.
As anyone who’s been following these blogs will know, we still haven’t found the cicada. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still there in some as yet undiscovered spot. In 2016, as well as the existing approach with the CicadaHunt smartphone app, we’ll also be deploying small low cost cicada detectors. These combine a small low-power microprocessor and a sensitive microphone, and are capable of detecting and recognising the high frequency calls of the cicada. We’re hoping to deploy 100 of these detectors at prime spots in the forest (sunny south-facing clearings). The detectors originate from a large project (www.soundtrap.io) to develop low-cost open-source acoustic tools for biodiversity monitoring, and we’re really excited to be able to try them next year.