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Are Cicadas Harmful to Pets?

Return of the Cicadas: Are these noisy insects harmful to pets?

                 Summer generally heralds the return of the cicadas and their incessant song.  These large bodied, clumsy flying insects have varying life cycles emerging from the ground every one to seventeen years.  This year, 2021 marks the hatching of the largest group of 17-year cicadas known as Brood X (Brood “10”).  The bugs are expected to arrive in record numbers over the next few weeks as the weather warms. They brood will span much of the Eastern United States from Georgia north into Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  If predictions are correct, York County is likely to see a lot of cicadas!

               So, are cicadas harmful to pets?  Cicadas are sort of creepy to look at with their big bodies, cellophane wings and beady eyes, but cicadas do not bite or sting.  They are not toxic and do not carry any diseases.  Cicadas tend to be slow-moving and easy to catch, so they are easy prey for dogs, cats and wildlife. 

            Some dogs like to snack on cicadas.  While the bugs are not toxic, if they eat too many, dogs may develop severe stomach upset, abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.  Cats may also catch and eat cicadas and could also develop gastrointestinal upset if they ingest too many, but are not likely to gorge themselves.  Cats and dogs may also be able to hear juvenile cicadas under the ground as they tunnel through the soil to emerge.  If you see your pet digging up the yard or tilting his head and listening intently to the ground, you may have cicadas or other insects like beetle grubs under the ground.   (By the way, grubs aren’t toxic either, but they CAN carry parasites or toxins from the soil, so it is best to prevent or limit your pet from eating grubs.)

        What if your dog or cat eats a whole bunch of tasty cicadas?  If he stops eating, starts vomiting or having diarrhea and seems to be painful or distressed, have your vet check him out.  Some pets may need intravenous fluids, pain medications, GI protectants and anti-nausea drugs.  It may take several days for them to recover.  Eating one or two cicadas isn’t likely to make them sick, but, if they are snacking on loads of them like potato chips, they could become ill.  The bottom line is, don’t panic if your kitty or pup decides to munch a bunch of cicadas, but do try to limit the number they eat!

      This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.