Cicadas and Pets
Brood X sounds like a dystopian sci-fi thriller coming straight out of Hollywood, but this year’s cicadas are, by and large, harmless. As billions of cicadas emerge across the Midwest and Eastern United States, pet parents worry that these deafening insects will hurt their curious or peckish companion animals. Fortunately, cicadas do not bite or sting, and are not innately poisonous–which is great news for the many pets and people who find them to be a crunchy delicacy. The ASPCA and the Animal Poison Control Center have confirmed that they do not contain any toxins, which is a huge relief for those of us who have cicada-obsessed pets.
Cicadas Are Not Toxic to Pets But Can Cause Tummy Upset
That said, cicadas can still cause digestive upset, and even intestinal blockages, if consumed in excess. This happens because their exoskeletons are made of chitin, which is difficult for the body to process. In rare cases, pets can have an allergic reaction to cicadas as well, just like humans. In fact, the FDA and other health agencies advise humans with shellfish allergies to stay away from these arthropods, who are in the same phylum as lobsters, shrimp, crabs, and crayfish.
Think of cicadas for pets like Doritos for humans–a handful is fine, but an entire bag? Probably not the best idea. However, even in instances where dogs or cats manage to feast on a large amount of cicadas, most pets only have a mild reaction–perhaps a bout of diarrhea or vomiting. Veterinarians caution against letting your dogs or cats snack freely on these bugs, but agree that munching on a few of them should not be a problem. If your pet has gorged herself, becomes sick, and does not recover quickly, aapp recommends a trip to the veterinarian.
Alter Your Routine, If Necessary…and Perhaps Give them A Try
Cicadas will be among us for the next 6 weeks, and then they will disappear for another 17 years. In the meantime, you may need to change up your daily habits to work around their existence. If your dogs are prone to devouring them en masse, you may want to take walks at dusk or dawn, when these singing insects are less active; avoid wooded areas with lots of mature trees; and limit your pets’ exposure to the outdoors.
Finally, if culinary bravery is your thing, there are countless recipes online for cicada appetizers, salads, main dishes, and desserts, and since they are high in protein and a very sustainable food source , you and your pets might sample just a few together.
All things in moderation, indeed.