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Blue-eyed buzzers, human interest emerge from Brood X

Though Brood X cicadas will be disappearing over the next couple of weeks, WVU researchers Matt Kasson and Brian Lovett said their appearance unveiled a few learning lessons: They found several rare blue-eyed cicadas and also witnessed a wave of public fascination over the cicadas. (Provided Photo/Matt Kasson)

Prepare to say hello to cleaner windshields and goodbye to a distinct, deafening buzzing sound – for four years, at least.

Brood X (“ten”), the noisy batch of cicadas running rampant throughout the East Coast and Midwest, will be departing over the next couple of weeks.

West Virginia University mycologists, however, said this appearance has unveiled a few learning lessons. They found several “rare” blue-eyed cicadas (usually, they have red eyes). And most important to these scientists, they witnessed a wave of public fascination that made interacting with the brood seem “like a team sport.”


“Maybe we hadn't paid as much attention to it before but we found several rare blue-eyed cicadas, which was a real treat for us. We saved them to use in a future study looking at eye pigments."

“Very little is known about the blue-eyed cicadas, but here’s a resource on the variation that’s out there: Cicada Mania—eye color.”

 “There is also a myth about blue-eyed cicadas being worth a lot of money. There has been some popular debunking coverage of this myth." — Brian Lovett, postdoctoral researcher, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


“Although our lab has been obsessed with cicadas and talking about them since 2016 when Brood V emerged in Morgantown, it’s clear that Brood X was different for those around us. It was rare to not see at least a couple of news stories per week devoted to periodical cicadas. This was a great opportunity to educate people and share this biological spectacle with those on the fence about insects. The combination of the expansive range of Brood X coupled with the widespread use of community science platforms and social media, made interacting with Brood X feel more like a team sport. We spent a lot of time in Northern Virginia with cicadas not particularly focused on the fungus but simply enjoying their big show."

“Brood XIV in 2025 is the next time we can expect periodical cicadas in WV and across much of the Mid-Atlantic:"  - Matt Kasson, associate professor of forest pathology and mycology, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design



VIDEO: Return of the zombie cicadas

How Cicadas Become Flying Saltshakers of Death (National Geographic)

Fact check: Brood X cicadas are infected with a sexually transmitted fungus (USA Today)

A fungus could turn some cicadas into sex-crazed ‘salt shakers of death’ (Washington Post)

Billions (Yes, Billions) of Cicadas Soon to Emerge From Underground (New York Times)

The buzz around Brood X: Don’t fear the cicada, WVU scientists say

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