Brood X, also known as Brood 10, is a massive population of periodical cicadas that emerges every 17 years across various regions of the eastern United States. This phenomenon captures the attention of scientists and the public alike due to the synchronized emergence of these insects in astounding numbers, often reaching into the millions or even billions. The cicadas spend the majority of their long underground life feeding on the roots of trees and shrubs, gradually maturing until they are ready to emerge.

Once Brood X cicadas emerge from the ground, they molt into adults and fill the air with their distinctive buzzing and mating calls. Male cicadas produce loud sounds to attract females, creating a symphony that echoes throughout the forests and urban areas where they emerge. After mating, females deposit their eggs in tree branches, and once hatched, the nymphs drop to the ground, burrow into the soil, and begin their lengthy 17-year cycle anew. The emergence of Brood X cicadas is not only a remarkable natural spectacle but also plays a crucial role in forest ecosystems, serving as a food source for various predators and contributing to nutrient cycling and forest regeneration through their feeding activities and decomposition. While their emergence can be a source of fascination and wonder, it also presents challenges and disruptions to local communities due to the sheer numbers and noise of the cicadas, as well as potential damage to vegetation.


Long Term Monitoring and Analysis of Brood X Cicada Activity by Distributed Fiber Optic Sensing Technology

Brood X is the largest of the 15 broods of periodical cicadas, and individuals from this brood emerged across the Eastern United States in spring 2021. Using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology, the activity of Brood X cicadas was monitored in their natural environment in Princeton, NJ. Critical information regarding their acoustic signatures and activity level is collected and analyzed using standard outdoor-grade telecommunication fiber cables. We believe these results have the potential to be a quantitative baseline for regional Brood X activity and pave the way for more detailed monitoring of insect populations to combat global insect decline. We also show that it is possible to transform readily available fiber optic networks into environmental sensors with no additional installation costs. To our knowledge, this is the first reported use case of a distributed fiber optic sensing system for entomological sciences and environmental studies.