Buzz Kill

cicada killer screen shotOne of the joys of being the resident entomologist in my family and circle of friends is that I frequently receive “What’s this bug?” texts and emails.

Recently, the texts came fast and furious with questions about a giant, strikingly marked wasp. I relished in replying to these queries as this species has a most fascinating biology, the stuff that would make good fodder for a horror movie. Meet the cicada killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus)!

Cicada killers are large solitary, ground-nesting wasps that specialize on hunting – you guessed it – […]

By | September 18th, 2014|Arthropods, Nature in Your Backyard, Urban Buzz|0 Comments

Urban Cicada Safari

On September 2, as the 9-5ers emptied out of downtown Raleigh, we gathered near the State Legislature Building to embark on an urban insect adventure.

Led by Bill Reynolds, curator of the Arthropod Zoo at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, we strolled the tree-lined sidewalks of the Legislature Complex, eyes peeled and ears tuned in quest of annual cicadas.

Cicada safari commences

Unlike their periodical cousins who show up every 13 or 17 years in a given location, the annual cicadas – also known as dog-day cicadas – make a yearly […]

Meet the Worker Bees: Liza the Urban Buzz Intern

Summer is nearly here which means the field season is now in full swing! Last week Lauren began a new photo series on the blog called Behind the Science, highlighting our research team in action. In addition to a rockin’ crew of post docs and graduate students, our team also includes a dedicated corps of undergraduate students, high school interns, and research technicians. And so this summer we’ll continue a feature we started last year called Meet the Worker Bees, profiling all the folks who make our research engine hum in the summertime.

Today we want you to meet […]

By | June 2nd, 2014|Education, Student Features, Urban Buzz|0 Comments

Send Us Your Dead Cicadas!

2014 BroodsPeriodical cicadas are emerging in several locations throughout the South and Midwest this summer:

Louisiana, Mississippi

Ohio, Kentucky

Iowa, Illinois


Prior to their late-spring emergence as red-eyed, orange-winged adults, periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) spend 13 or 17 years underground, tapped into tree roots. That’s a long time to be exposed to pesticides, heat and other stressors associated with the urban environment.

Last year, we launched Urban Buzz, a citizen science project, to document the effects of urbanization on periodical cicadas. Specifically, we’re looking at how urban stress affects cicada […]

By | May 29th, 2014|Urban Buzz|1 Comment

That Wonderful Time of the Year (for Cicada Citizen Science)

For the last few weeks, I’ve been eagerly scanning my Twitter feed for updates about the emergence of this year’s broods of periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.), those charismatic red-eyed, orange-winged beauties that emerge triumphantly in late spring after 13 or 17 long years spent underground.

Nearly every year, there’s a different population of periodical cicadas (known as broods) emerging in a different part of the eastern US. In 2013, we witnessed Brood II, a population of 17-year cicadas emerging in a long band from Georgia north to Connecticut. Cicadamania swept the East Coast last summer, and even […]

By | May 26th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Urban Buzz|0 Comments

Cicada Collection Pro-Tips

Today, the Your Wild Life team took a cicada safari to Greensboro to collect some dead cicadas for the Urban Buzz project. We figured we couldn’t ask you all to do the heavy lift, without contributing a few data points ourselves.

And in the process of collecting, we learned a few things:

  1.  As we noted on our first trip to Greensboro, dead cicadas are pretty easy to come by – We had good luck finding them near the edge of yards, close to curbs, and under “mother-lode” trees where emergence had been particularly intense (as evident by piles of […]
By | June 5th, 2013|Explainer, Participate, Projects, Urban Buzz|2 Comments

Reading Round-Up: Cicada Edition!

It’s been quite awhile since we shared links on a related theme with y’all and since we’re in the midst of some self-induced cicada-mania, we thought we’d share a bunch of great reads that recently caught our eyes (and ears) related to the emergence of the Brood II periodical cicadas – Enjoy!

  • When Cicadas Fall in Love: Alan Burdick of the New Yorker writes about the dynamic cicada research duo, John Cooley and David Marshall, and their quest to understand the courtship of periodical cicadas. Says Cooley, “Almost any […]
By | June 3rd, 2013|Reading List, Urban Buzz|1 Comment

Buzzing about cicadas: Launching a new project!

Magicicada septendecim

Over the last few weeks, we’ve watched and envied reports and photos coming from those of you living within the emergence zone of Brood II 17-year periodical cicadas (from Georgia to Connecticut). We even traveled westward to witness the magical Magicicada spp. in action in Greensboro, North Carolina (as our own backyard in Raleigh is too far east of the emergence zone). We encouraged you to report your observations of emergence online to help out other cicada researchers.

And yet, we felt something […]

Going on a Cicada Hunt

Last Thursday, cicada expert Dr. Chris Simon dropped by the Daily Planet Theatre at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to talk about periodical cicadas. She had been working nearby in Greensboro, North Carolina, mapping the distribution of the East Coast Brood of periodical cicadas (Brood II) at its western and southern edges.

As you read earlier in the month and probably gathered by our recent tweets, I’m a bit of a periodical cicada fan. I was so inspired by the images and sound clips Dr. Simon shared that I headed over to Greensboro the very […]

By | May 28th, 2013|Participate, Urban Buzz, Video, Your Wild Life Team|1 Comment

Carpe Cicada!

As a kid, I never could sleep well on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of Santa’s visit  (and the pile of wrapped presents he would leave behind) always had me so giddy that I could only doze off for a few minutes (or maybe an hour or so) at a time. I’d awake heart racing, eyes popped open wide, and check the clock. 2:23am. 3:42am. 4:15am. 5:08am. The hands of time seemed to click forward so slowly. FINALLY. 6:30a. I roused my siblings and bounded down the steps to […]