The interdisciplinary team behind The Brood X Cicada Outreach in the spring and summer of 2021 has been selected as the recipients of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Specialists’ Association (PUCESA) Team Award.
The Team Award recognizes innovative Extension programming by a team of specialists and their allied partners.
The cicada team, led by exotic forest pest educator Dr. Elizabeth Barnes, created a website, videos, social media posts, citizen science projects and more to educate the public about 17-year cicadas to prevent panic by framing the emergence as a wonder to be enjoyed and not a plague to be endured.
Cicada information ranged from myth busting – sharing that cicadas do not bite people or cause long-term harm to trees and are not “a plague of locusts,”- to general identification information, tree health, and human and animal health information related to the emergence. In addition, the team produced a poster illustrating cicadas and look-alike insects, shared jewelry and art projects, and even put on a cicada cookie decorating contest in conjunction with the Virtual Bug Bowl event.
“The Cicada Team anticipated the need for solid information for the public well in advance of the emergence of the 17-year periodical cicada,” Tom Creswell, Director of the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, said in a letter of supporting the team’s nomination. “They did an amazing job in creating an engaging and information packed website, complete with identification aids, cicada related children’s activities, fruit tree protection information and offered a newsletter signup for more information. This allowed us to much more easily field questions related to the cicada emergency and allowed us to point to Purdue generated information with confidence in the accuracy.”
The team included personnel from the departments of Entomology, Forestry and Natural Resources, and Horticulture and Landscape Architecture as well as Purdue Extension educators, in order to craft specific messaging for nursery crop producers, foresters, fruit producers, landscapers and homeowners.
The team’s website became a source of information for the public and media as well as extension educators across the state, introducing the insect and preventing panic spraying of insecticides or the hiring of contractors selling false promises of protection. The site had nearly 23,000 unique views, while videos deployed by the team on Facebook and YouTube were viewed more than 12,000 times. The related social media campaign reached nearly 85,000 individuals.
More than 30 local and national news outlets ranging from the Indianapolis Star and South Bend Tribune to NBC, CBS, ABC, NPR, Disney Plus and National Geographic picked up on the buzz created by the cicada team. Barnes conducted 47 media interviews herself, while many other local extension educators and specialists also gave interviews to various outlets armed with information from the Cicada website.
Emergence of the 17-year Cicada Website, Purdue Extension – Entomology
Cicada Activity for Kids, Purdue Extension – Entomology
Cicada and Their Lookalikes Poster, Purdue Extension – Entomology
17 Ways to Make the Most of the 17-year Cicada Emergence, Purdue College of Agriculture
Ask an Expert: Cicada Emergence Video, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension-FNR
Periodical Cicada in Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Cicada Killers, The Education Store
Zombie Cicadas Video, Bug Bowl 2021
Subscribe to Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
Elizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue University Department of Entomology