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Cicadas bring out enthusiasts looking to learn more about intriguing bugs

"We started noticing them yesterday morning and ever since then the kids have just been enthralled," Bridget Taylor with Louisville Nature Center said.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The students at the Swallowtail Forest School are receiving a hands-on lesson that comes just once every 17 years as the Brood X cicadas have started popping up around their outdoor classroom at Louisville Nature Center.

"We started noticing them yesterday morning and ever since then the kids have just been enthralled," Bridget Taylor, education programs manager at Louisville Nature Center and the director of the Swallowtail Forest School, said.

"It's fun to see how excited they are. They made a welcome sign for them yesterday," Rebecca Minnick, the executive director at Louisville Nature Center, said. "They love bugs and it's so cute to see how tender and empathetic they are with the bugs."

For these young students, ages three through five, it is their first time seeing these cicadas in person. While they may be young, they have learned quickly these bugs do not bite or sting humans, showing no fear in picking up these red-eyed bugs and letting them crawl on their hands and arms.

"It's memorable," Taylor said. "These kids will remember this summer as the first time the cicadas came out. I think that's cool."

But it's not all fun and games when it comes to the cicadas. Entomologists are especially interested in learning more about these creatures, with some observing cicadas in fewer locations over the years.

"The map of Brood X, this particular brood that is emerging in Kentucky, is not the best understood," Jonathan Larson, an extension entomologist with the University of Kentucky, said. "We have some data on it. It's spotty in different places."

Researchers have created an app, Cicada Safari, that encourages people to take photos of the cicadas and upload them into a database.

"We will be able to get the geotag from it and we'll be able to produce this really nice map for Kentucky of what counties actually have Brook X," Larson said.

"We have to inspire the future environmental stewards," Taylor said. "We really need especially our kids to build those connections early."

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