The Cicadas Are Coming: What You Need to Know

April 26, 2021

a Boston Terrier on a walk in the park

It’s been 17 years since the last emergence of the periodical Brood X, which means that soon we can expect billions of cicadas to emerge in several midwestern and eastern states. Anyone who remembers the last emergence will recall dodging cicadas as they fly around during these periods, looking for a mate. Maybe you also recall using ear plugs in an attempt to block out the 100 decibels of sound these insects can produce. Cicadas reign as loudest insects in the world.

Cicadas from Brood X will reemerge when soil temperature reaches about 64 degrees. This typically happens around the third week of May, but could occur sooner this year. The cicadas tend to stick around for about six weeks, just enough time to mate, and then die off—not to be seen again for another 17 years.

So, what does this mean for your pets? Are they toxic to cats and dogs or are there safety precautions you should consider? Don’t worry! The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has the answer!

The short answer is no. While pets love to snack on these large insects and will sometimes vomit them back up, they do not contain any toxins. Their exoskeletons are made of chitin, which is difficult to digest, so if your pet eats a lot of cicadas, an intestinal blockage could occur. Chitin can rarely cause allergic reactions as well. Most pets who ingest a few cicadas will only develop mild stomach upset, so you can expect a little vomiting and maybe some diarrhea.

The best way to avoid any potential problems is to keep your pet from eating them. Below are a few tips to prevent them from doing so!

  • Cicadas are least active around dawn and dusk, so take your dog for a walk at these times.
  • Cicadas are found in and around mature trees, so avoid walks in the woods or in parks that contain a lot of trees.
  • Limit the amount of time your dog spends outside when the cicadas are active and supervise them so you can prevent ingestion.

If your dog or cat does get sick from eating a few cicadas, take away their food and water for an hour to let their stomach settle down. If the vomiting continues despite this, contact your veterinarian. 

If you believe your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.