Cicadas and Pet Safety - PetFirst
Cicadas and Pet Safety
Pet Care & Health

Cicadas and Pet Safety

by MetLife Pet Insurance
5 months ago

After almost two decades underground, Cicadas are now working their way to the surface where, for about a month, they will begin to molt, mate, and lay eggs.

You won’t be able to miss the trillions of “Brood X” Cicadas emerging from their 17-years underground as they blanket cars, trees, and the ground. By mid-Summer, the adults will die, and their offspring will burrow underground to resurface in 17 years6.

As you get outside and enjoy the warmer weather with your pets in the coming weeks, what actions should you take to keep your pets safe if you happen to come across Cicadas? Keep reading as we discuss pet safety, what to watch for, and where these Cicadas can be found. 

Are Cicadas Dangerous to Pets?

The good news is that cicadas do not bite or sting and they are not toxic7.

These insects will typically stay outside and will not invade your home. However, when the soil temperature reaches the mid-60ºs Fahrenheit, dogs can hear something we cannot: young cicadas tunneling underground and getting ready for flight.

If Fido digs, he may encounter one of these insects, so what should pet parents know?

According to Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer:

“In most cases, your dog will be fine after eating a few cicadas however, dogs that gorge on the large, crunchy insects will find the exoskeleton difficult to digest and can suffer serious consequences8.” 

Should your dog or cat attempt to ingest Cicadas, problems including choking on stiff cicada wings or hard exoskeleton could result in abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and severe stomach upset.

Where Will Cicadas Emerge? 

According to entomologists, as many as 1 ½ million Cicadas will land per acre in some areas! Also knows as the Great Eastern Brood, billions of these Brood X Cicadas will surface in about 15 states, primarily in the mid-West and mid-Atlantic states inculding9:

  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

How to Recognize a Cicada

Cicadas have six legs and antennas that are about 1-2” long and sing a love song (in hopes of attracting females of their species) that can reach about 100 decibels.

Periodical Cicadas, as Brood X are classified, are easy to differentiate from the more than 3,000 species of annual Cicadas seen yearly. Those seen yearly are typically black and green while the those classified as Brood X have striking black bodies, orange wing veins, and red eyes. 

These insects will feed on the juice and sap of tree roots, typically causing minimal damage to the plants. While underground, cicada nymphs aerate the soil by constructing tunnels which allow tree roots to gain better access to nutrients and oxygen. 

They also serve as meals for many creatures: birds, spiders and snakes find them a delicacy. Humans have also been known to use them as fishing bait and to eat them as well!

What is a Pet Parent to do?

Keeping your dogs safe

While Cicadas are out in full force, consider keeping your dog on a leash and teach and enforce the “leave it” command. Redirect your dog’s attention away from the insects with a positive reinforcement like a toy, treat, or other fun time spent with you. 

Remember, you must always be the most interesting thing to your dog. If you have a pet who consumes everything in sight, you may have to be their constant companion outside for a couple months. Just make sure you are supervising  if cicadas inhabit your area. 

Keeping your felines safe

To keep your felines safe during this time, consider keeping them indoors or in an enclosed area away from the Cicadas. If they do make their way outdoors for some fresh air, consider staying with them to supervise during that time.

Stay aware of your surroundings 

Cicadas do not fly very well and may even fly into you or your pet.  Typically, cicadas fall to the ground or land on plants and trees making them accessible to curious dogs and cats.

According to Dr. Amy Fauth, Falls Road Veterinary Hospital, Potomac, Maryland, vomiting is a serious sign if seen in a dog or a cat. If you find that your pet is ill and vomiting, they should be seen by a veterinarian for further treatment10

If your pet consumes these insects, they may require pain medications, anti-nausea drugs, intravenous fluids, and gastro-protectant medications to protect and heal the mucous lining from bleeding and irritation.

Brood X Cicadas will be making only a brief 8-week appearance, so remember to supervise your dogs and protect them from any potential harm. A bug buffet might seem like a good idea, but the result of crunching too many of these critters could leave your furry friend feeling less than perky.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.


1Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”) is the insurance carrier for this product. IAIC, a Delaware insurance company, is headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC to offer and administer pet insurance policies. This entity was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an assumed name and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other assumed names or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions. 

2Provided all terms of the policy are met. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

6Brood X Cicadas are Emerging at Last by Kate Wong and Cherie Sinnen, Scientific American, May 10, 2021.

7My Dog Ate a Cicada! Are Cicadas Poisonous to Dogs? by Katie Cook and Dr. Justine Lee, Pet Poison Helpline.

8Dogs Eating Cicadas: Tasty Treat or Trouble? By Harriet Meyers, March 4, 2021.

9Brood X Cicadas: Frequently Asked Questions, Pest World, 2021.

10Cicada Edibility: Everything you need to know about pets — and humans — eating cicadas by Topper Shutt, WUSA-TV9, Washington DC, May 18, 2021.

Denise Fleck has been the proud mom to a dozen rescue dogs.  Thanks to them, she is also known as the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 25,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes, her “The Pet Safety Bible,” and the dozen other books she has penned.  Learn more at www.PetSafetyCrusader.com

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