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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Gene Kritsky's Cicada Podcast Coming To WVXU Later This Month

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John Kiesewetter
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A cicada sheds its exoskeleton in my Fairfield backyard in 2017.

Everything you wanted to know about cicadas – but were afraid to touch – is coming to WVXU's new Brood X: The Cicada Podcast.

Gene Kritsky, Ph.D., Mt. St. Joseph University's internationally known cicada expert, will explain all about the Brood X 17-year emergence in a 10-part podcast series with WVXU reporter Cory Sharber launching April 27.

And they need your help. The Brood X: The Cicada Podcast will include questions from the public – including students – submitted to Kritsky by email (BroodX@wvxu.org) or by using the Talk2Us feature on the free WVXU app.

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Credit Gene Kritsky / Mt. St. Joseph University
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Mt. St. Joseph University
Cicadas clustered on a tree.

Along with the podcast, Kritsky and Mt. St. Joseph are launching the Cicada Safari mobile app and the CicadaSafari.org website, which have cicada information, history, maps and activities.

"We are really needing people to report cicadas via the free app Cicada Safari, which was developed with the help of students at the Center for IT Engagement at the Mount," says Kritsky, who has written two books on cicadas, including the new Periodical Cicadas: The Brood X Edition published by the Ohio Biological Survey. "We can also accept 10 second videos, so when the cicadas start singing, especially when they are very loud, we would like to have people submit videos as well." 

The app has had over 30,000 downloads to date, he says.

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Credit John Kiesewetter
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Cicadas on a tree in Athens, Ohio, in 2016.

The insects spend most of their lives underground  feeding on roots and tree fluids. They emerge from the ground as nymphs, climb a vertical surface (a tree, plant, fence post, wooden playset, etc.), and start to shed their exoskeleton. They mature into black and orange insects with big heads, large red eyes and clear membrane wings. The males are quite noisy, as they seek to attract a female mate.

They are expected to emerge in Greater Cincinnati and Southern Indiana in mid-May.

According to CicadaSafari, periodical cicadas were first seen by "the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in 1634, but they were known to Native Americans for centuries prior to European contact. Brood X was first reported in 1715 in Philadelphia."

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Credit Dr. Gene Kritsky / Mt. St. Joseph University
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Mt. St. Joseph University
Brood X map from Dr. Gene Kritsky

Brood X, the largest of the 17-year cicada broods, is concentrated in Southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and all of Indiana. They emerge in 15 states, from New York and Maryland to Michigan in the north, Illinois to the west and Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia to the south.

They are first expected to emerge in southern states in early May.

It's worth your while to check out Cicada Safari. There's plenty of really cool cicada information, such as:

--There are four other species of 13-year cycle cicadas, which will not emerge this year.

--Not all cicadas count years correctly. Some from the 17-year cycle emerged four years early in May 2000, according to Kritsky.

--Adult cicadas do not sting or bite humans, and do not carry diseases.

John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. Cincinnati Public Radio only edits his articles for style and grammar.