ST. LOUIS – With 13-year cicadas now swarming St. Louis and 17-year cicadas emerging elsewhere, scientists are calling on all of us to go on a cicada safari to help them study this rare, natural phenomenon.

The last time these 13-year and 17-year broods emerged in the same year was 1803. There’s a lot for us to learn from it. It starts with you downloading the Cicada Safari app.

“For me, it’s really a lot of fun. I come out with my coffee in the morning with my puppies,” said Stephanie Seligman, at her home near Maryland Heights. “I just take a few photos of the cicadas. That’s helping science.”

She is among more than 225,000 now in the app’s user database. She uploads cicada photos and locations.

The app led FOX 2 to a cicada hot bed in Seligman’s neighborhood.

Her trees, fences, and portions of her house are covered with crawling cicadas. The app’s developer, Dr. Gene Kritsky, Ph.D., is a top cicada researcher from Mount St. Joseph University near Cincinnati.

“Take a picture of a cicada. Take a good one. Don’t be afraid … get right up to it,” he said. “Take its picture. Send it to us.”

Dr. Andreia Figueiredo Dexheimer, Ph.D., a fellow researcher at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, said you can take it even further.

The university’s STEM center offers safari kits, which include things like bug vision goggles, insect nets, viewing containers, and an insect species guide that people can check out, use, and return free of charge.

“Watch the bugs! They tell us a lot about the world. This is also their planet. It’s not just our planet. We’re sharing the planet with them,” she said. “They’re fascinating. They’re beautiful. They have super complex behaviors that we’re just now learning about.

“They’re very sensitive to temperature. We know the signal for them to emerge is temperature. We might not be feeling it, but other things that are more sensitive to temperature, humidity, air pressure are feeling it, and one day we’ll feel it.”

Researchers hope such efforts will warm us to the bugs, their piercing mating calls, and soon, all of their carcasses.

“They will stink to high heaven … but that stink is because they’re decaying,” Kritsky said. “As they decay, the nutrients in all those cicada bodies…are going into the soil, creating a nutrient cache around the tree.”

“They do a lot of good for the dirt and ground. I like (their) noise,” Seligman said. “The birds and the cicadas, they all mesh together beautifully. It’s music to my ears.”

It is the sound of safari in St. Louis.