They're called Brood X, and they’ve been all over the news in the last month. Cicadas are back in eastern North America, and their arrival has thrilled scientists and annoyed people planning events, attending parties, or taking flights across the world. The cicada is not harmful to people, although sudden swarms of them can cause problems. But what about your dog or cat? Are cicadas dangerous to your pets? Here’s all you need to know about cicadas and pet safety.

A cicada crawls on a daisy.

What is a cicada?

The cicada is a sizable insect with a broad head, bulbous eyes, and transparent membrane wings. There are upwards of 3,000 cicada species; some are annual and show up when the weather is warm every July and August. Another species is periodical, where the cicadas emerge from underground every 13 to 17 years, in the South and North, respectively. 

It’s the periodical cicada that gets the most attention, and the current generation, referred to as Brood X, is making its way across the eastern United States right now. Are you wondering if Brood X is making its way toward you and your pets? Check out the Cicada Safari App to see where they are at right now.

Cicadas are loud insects whose “songs'' can reach between 85 to 100 decibels. The bugs make this noise to reproduce, defend themselves, and communicate. The most deafening cicada noises are the males’ mating calls. Cicadas will not hurt people --- they don’t even bite or sting. However, you should handle them with care if you pick one up due to the cicada’s piercing mouth, which it uses to suck juices from plants. You may inadvertently pierce your skin if you aren’t careful. 

A border collie lies in the grass.

Are cicadas harmful to dogs?

Cicadas are not harmful to dogs, provided that your dog doesn’t have a taste for them. Yes, dogs will often eat cicadas, and because this insect doesn’t bite or sting, it’s generally safe for a dog to eat one or two cicadas. It’s the overconsumption of these bugs that can pose a problem for your pup.

The cicada has an exoskeleton that is not digestible, but it’s that part of the cicada that makes it satisfactorily crunchy to dogs. While a few cicada treats should be fine for canines, if a dog eats numerous cicadas, it can cause health problems, including:

  • Mild to extreme gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, abdominal pain, blockages, and bloody diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions
  • Choking on the exoskeleton or stiff wings
  • Pesticides poisoning

If your pup is a fan of snacking on large amounts of cicadas, do what you can to keep her away from these insects. Accompany your dog whenever she is outside, use a basket muzzle, or take this as an opportunity to teach your dog the command for “leave it.” If your dog at any time eats cicadas and then exhibits any of the above symptoms, take her immediately to a veterinarian.

A calico cat prepares to pounce.

Do cicadas pose a threat to cats?

Like their canine counterparts, cats are not likely to suffer harm from cicadas unless they consume many of them. If your cat prefers to hunt and chase rather than eat insects, the cicadas will provide some entertainment for her. If your cat likes to eat her kill, then you’ll have to monitor her a bit more carefully. Unfortunately, like dogs, cats can suffer from stomach upset and blockages if they consume too many cicadas. The cicada’s hard outer shell is tough for a kitty’s tummy to digest.

Because cicadas are slow-moving and make their distinctive clicking and buzzing sounds, they are highly attractive prey for cats. Indoor-outdoor cats may need to spend more time indoors when cicada swarms are nearby, while indoor-only cats will quickly let you know if this insect is inside the house. The most likely issue for cats and cicadas is the cat overexerting itself to bat down and catch the insect. Keep an eye on your kitten, so her aerial acrobatics don’t lead to injuries.

Think pet insurance for unexpected insect-pet encounters.

If your cat or dog encounters cicadas this summer, they are unlikely to experience any harm or distress. However, should your pet eat one too many cicadas and suffer from stomach upset or breathing difficulties, you’ll want to take her to a veterinarian right away. A pet insurance policy can help cover most of the fees you will unexpectedly have to pay for your pet’s emergency treatment. Get a free quote for a pet insurance policy for your pet today, and be ready for whatever flies your way next.
 

References:

 

  1. Christopher, T. (2021). Like Clockwork. Retrieved from https://www.npca.org/articles/2838-like-clockwork?gclid=Cj0KCQjwzYGGBhCTARIsAHdMTQyNqtQhQDYEe1zSBZLuFnEx89A0JHMpulGEUHSBbiQ-MGeCn8t1aRcaApsFEALw_wcB
  2. Kubis, A. (2021). This App Takes Crowdsourcing Cicadas to the Next Level. Retrieved from https://www.alleghenyfront.org/cicada-safari-brood-x/
  3. ValleyHealth. (2021). Brood X Cicadas: The Latest Buzz on Hearing Protection. Retrieved from https://www.valleyhealthlink.com/blog/2021/may/brood-x-cicadas-the-latest-buzz-on-hearing-prote/
  4. Argento, M. (2021). Sympathy for the Cicada.  Retrieved from https://www.ydr.com/in-depth/news/2021/03/31/brood-x-cicada-spring-2021-noise-atltantic-region/6979256002/
  5. Gibeault, S. (2021). Dog Muzzles: When, Why, and How to Correctly Use Them. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/dog-muzzles-when-why-how-to-use/
  6. Kennedy, E. (2011). Step by Step Dog Training Guide for “Leave It.” Retrieved from https://thebark.com/content/step-step-dog-training-guide-leave-it
  7. Ward, T. (2021). Brood X cicadas offer pets a moveable feast of irresistible proportions. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/29/health/pets-eat-cicadas-feast-wellness/index.html