A project mostly for fun today, especially if you’re a bug lover.

I’ve always liked bugs (well, most bugs — I could do without house centipedes or scutigera coleoptrata), and cicadae in particular have always fascinated me. They spend the majority of their lives underground, emerge in their thousands once a year, molt, and end their days after a very brief period of mating and egg laying. They also make a really cool noise, which always makes me think of summer.

WNYC is equally fascinated by cicadae, and this year, is calling on New York and New Jersey residents to help track the emergence of Magicicada Brood II, a cicada with a 17-year cycle. They want you to build a soil temperature sensor that will be able to report the temperature of the soil roughly 20 centimeters (8 inches) down, and they provide a complete parts list and easy how-to guide to get you going. Apparently this species of cicada typically emerges when the ground temperature is around 17 C (64 F).

Once you have built your sensor, you should get it into the ground by mid-April, and then you can start reporting data by going here. You can also check out their bug blog.

If you’re not handy when it comes to circuit boards or want to save some money, they recommend the following sensor at Amazon (this is not an affiliate link).

Photo by Benoit Gauzere on Unsplash

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