Navigation Menu+

Cicada Tracker

Posted on Apr 11, 2013 by in Challenge, Science


cicaca-tracker-scistarterWNYC invites families, armchair scientists and lovers of nature to join in a bit of mass science: track the cicadas that emerge once every 17 years across New Jersey, New York and the whole Northeast by building homemade sensors and reporting your observations.

Magicicada Brood II will make its 17-year appearance when the ground 8" down is a steady 64° F. Help predict the arrival by planting a homemade temperature sensor in the ground and reporting your findings back to to WNYC.  Your observations will be put on a map and shared with the entire community.

Collect data using a soil thermometer from a garden store, or build your own using the instructions on the project website. Then, report your data. Visit the project website

A homemade temperature detector costs about $80 in parts and takes about 2 hours to build. You'll want it in the ground by mid-April, the earliest the cicadas are likely to emerge. You can also participate — and save money — by buying a soil thermometer that will detect the temperature 8 inches underground, such as this one that costs less than $8.

The project website provides complete instructions for building your own detector at