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July 4, 2018

Are cicadas safe to eat?

Filed under: Eating Cicadas | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 1:01 am

Update (July 2018): A company called Meat Maniac sells cicadas in a can. Don’t know which species, but they have a “nutty flavor”.

Also, send me a box of these cicadas from China… um, I mean Chinese City Tells Citizens to Fight Bug Infestation By Eating Them.

Meat Maniac cicadas in a can

Also, read this amazing story about how Brood VII cicadas helped kept the Onondaga Nation alive during a time of famine.

The original article from 2006:

[WARNING:] Cicadas, 17-year cicadas at least, are well-known bioaccumulators of mercury. If consuming mercury is a concern, you should not eat cicadas.

Dogs, cats, squirrels, fish, and people can’t stop eating cicadas. Are they crazy, or “crazy like a fox”? (Foxes will eat them too.)

Pets and other domesticated animals

This is a cartoon of a dog about to eat a cicada

People want to know: “is it safe for my pets to eat cicadas”. The truth is in most cases your pets will be fine if they eat a few cicadas, however, you still need to be cautious and keep a close eye on your pets. Watch them for odd behavior, and don’t let them gorge themselves. Be cautious: the Humane Society has warned: “Cicadas Dangerous to Pets” [the original link is gone].

Pet-related concerns:

  1. Pets can choke on the rigid wings and other hard body parts of the cicadas.
  2. Pets will gorge themselves on cicadas, and possibly become ill and vomit.
  3. Pets who consume cicadas sprayed with copious amounts of pesticide can and will die.
  4. Pets might have an allergic reaction to the cicadas just as people do.

Bottom line: play it safe, and don’t let your pets eat cicadas if you can help it.


Whether they’re curious, hungry, or doing it for the shock value, people are eating cicadas. Asian peoples have eaten cicadas for centuries, and there are records of Native Americans eating cicadas. People joke that they’re Atkins friendly [also no gluten]. I’ve heard they taste like asparagus, popcorn, minty shrimp, and piney shrimp — YUMMY PINE.

A man in Bloomington Indiana had an allergic reaction to cicadas after eating 30. He was also allergic to seafood — both cicadas and shrimps are arthropods so this makes sense.

[Note to self, “Do it, Dan, don’t be a wimp!”]

People related concerns:

  1. Cicadas are well known bioaccumulators of mercury.
  2. You could choke on their hard body parts.
  3. You could have an allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to seafood, don’t think about eating them.
  4. Do you really want to eat something that’s been marinating in lawn fertilizers,
    pesticides and other chemicals for the past 17 years?
  5. If you get the gout, it makes sense to avoid them.

People related links:

  1. National Geographic: National Geographic News :Low-Fat, High Protein Cicadas: New Health Snack
  2. Stephanie Bailey’s Internet insect cookbook has tips on how to prepare insects for human consumption! [note that the link now goes to an article by Stephanie about eating insects in general.]

Bottom line: You’re not a contestant on Fear Factor [a reality TV show in the 00s]. Why eat cicadas when you can choose from many of the fine menu choices at Applebees [a chain restaurant]?

Fish, turkeys, squirrels and everything else

If a creature has a mouth or some other mechanism to digest cicadas, it likely will try to eat them. Cicadas make great fish bait. Squirrels (yes, they’re nuts for cicadas too), birds, possums, raccoons, foxes, other insects, fungi… they all love cicadas.

Bottom line: let nature do the dirty work and clean your yard one bite at a time.

Tom, Cicada Gormandize:
Tom eats a cicada


  1. Jean Lewis says:

    Cicadas are beautiful.We should respect the fact that they have spent so many years in the ground and are on the last part of their life journey.Stop destroying these great creatures and educate yourselves.

  2. Tom says:

    I had lots of Japanese beetles on my property in Tennessee a few years ago and my chickens gobbled them up. I’m sure they’ll do the same with cicadas when they free range. Should I have any concerns about that?

    1. Dan says:

      I don’t see why not!

  3. Ange Bryant says:

    My cat certainly thinks they’re tasty (and fun to play with!). I guess if people consider fried grasshoppers with a dab of honey is a delicacy, cicadas must be also. 🙂

  4. Faith Kauffmann says:

    Why does anyone think grass needs fertilizer and pesticide spray? The beautiful mix of greens does fine with nature, and you and the dogs can eat as many cicadas as you wish…no mercury!


    god dagit tis dood ate a cicada and he aint gunna die lol thats bad :((((( XD Rawr

  6. DDD the Human says:

    Bob the dog frantically eats all he can. Bob is an accomplished Frisbee Dog sooooo of course I threw one at him, he caught it mid flight and it was game on! He has probably eaten around 100 or so since he found the buffet of crunchy goodness and is fine so far. On the other hand Lucky the dog could care less…. I have lived through several hatchings in my life time and this one is HUGE! I am just south of Cleveland where ground zero seems to be. I can hear them through ear plugs I wear to sleep!

  7. Cam says:

    I have two dogs and this 2016 emergence is quite a nightmare. They both think it’s an all you can eat buffet and one of them seems to be allergic to them breaking out in hives in the evening. Its hard to have to take them out on a leash several times a day and them fighting each step to have a bite. Damn you cicadas, damn you 😜

  8. Kevin says:

    Brood V as arrived in North Central WV. I saw a about a week ago, but this weekend (May 22nd) they are all over many plants and in the yard. My two yorkies checked them out. The male nipped at them. but my 5lb. female grabbed one in her mouth and them started chewing. She was hooked and the all you can eat buffet was on. She ate about five before we stopped her. We weren’t sure if it was safe. She went inside and was fine. She came out later and ran to the plants were they were congregating and starting woofing them down. we had to make her stop and put her insiude.

    1. Kat says:

      This is my third 17 year cicada hatch in the last few years, as I moved from mid ohio, to sw ohio, then here to wv. In each place, my dogs went crazy catching and eating them. Just limit the time outdoors, keep the grass cut, and relish in the fact it only lays a few weeks.

  9. Michael says:

    Love your website! Very informative and nicely done, with humorous illustrations and commentary as well. Genius work!

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