Cicada season comes to an end

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Posted by Davide, 15 August 2013

The cicada season has come to an end. Why? Because, according to a report in British Wildlife in 2002, the latest a cicadetta montana was heard singing in the New Forest was July 30th, and that was in 1907. So, little hope remains that we'll find one at this time of the year, if we haven't heard one so far.

BUT! Not all hope is lost. Cicadas have a particular lifespan. They live underground as nymphs for 7-8 years, up until the year when they emerge, become adults and die, all within 4-6 weeks. American cicadas (magicicadas) are actually synchronised, and they emerge all together every 13 or 17 years. Our cicadas don't behave like that, but they still have cycles when the population is higher than previous years. According to our reports, next years should be one of those. So, if we haven't found it this year and the cicada is still present, then next year might be our best chance.

A huge thank you to all our citizen scientists who participated in this project so far. Almost 1000 people downloaded the app, contributing to a total of over 4000 reports. I was surprised to see that the majority of them (about 64%) were using iPhones (I'm a big Android fan), but in a way it was a good thing, because the iPhone's microphone is much more sensitive and therefore better at detecting the cicada call.[1] Together we covered a huge portion of the New Forest (see image at the side). A great help on that also comes from the entomologists at BugLife, who covered all the historic sites where the cicada was found in the past. They also used our own Cicada Hunt app, and that makes us proud. Thanks to them also for all the training they imparted on us.

Finally, I want to leave you with an image of our top 10 contributors. We don't know their names (we don't collect information about the users) unless they register their device on the website (go to the dashboard for that), but many thanks to them as well as everyone else who contributed.

What else would you like to know about the cicada? Or the users who are taking part to this project? Let us know and we'll post more information.

[1] To be precise, some people argue that the microphone in Android devices is filtered in firmware to remove background noise during phone calls. This means that the actual microphone is not necessarily less sensitive than the iPhone's one, but the result is effectively the same, unless you have access to the firmware (which only manufacturers do).


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