Millions upon millions of Brood X cicadas are emerging, and entomologist Marianne Alleyne didn’t want to miss it. "I didn’t see it 17 years ago, and I wanted to experience it," says Alleyne. "My brother-in-law actually put it perfectly: ‘This is your entomology Woodstock, isn’t it?’" Brood X isn’t the only group of cicadas that spends nearly two decades underground, but it is the biggest and most famous. The return of these enormous black bugs only lasts about six weeks and is a rare chance for researchers to try to understand everything from the creature’s basic biological design to the impact of its mass appearance on other living creatures. That’s why Alleyne recently made a road trip to Maryland from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She studies how the intricate structure of cicada wings makes water droplets roll right off, and she wanted to collect some cicadas from this particular brood. Other researchers are busy collecting too. Jake Socha , a professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, and researchers in his lab set up a makeshift research station in a rented house outside Washington, D.C. On a recent evening, as brown, shrimp-like cicada nymphs began to […]

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