Cicada Mania

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June 28, 2008

Do cicadas bite or sting?

Filed under: Anatomy | FAQs — Dan @ 12:03 pm

If you believe you’ve been bitten and you’re concerned, the best thing to do is to consult a doctor, not this webpage. 🙂

Technically cicadas don’t bite or sting; they do however pierce and suck. They might try to pierce and suck you, but don’t worry, they aren’t Vampires nor are they malicious or angry — they’re just ignorant and think you’re a tree. Just remove the cicada from your person, and go about your business. Cicadas also have pointy feet, egg-laying parts (ovipositors), and other sharp parts that might feel like a bite.

Cicadas don’t have jaws (mandibles) like a wasp, mantis, or ant, built to tear and chew flesh. Cicadas don’t have stingers, like bees and wasps, meant to deploy venom and paralyze or otherwise harm their victim. See a video of a Japanese hornet to see what I mean.

Cicadas obtain sustenance by drinking tree fluids, which are relatively watery compared to human blood. Drinking human blood would probably kill a cicada.

Caution: Don’t hold cicadas in a closed fist — you can hurt the cicadas, and they might try to drink from your hand meat.

(Reference these meme groups for more info Entomemeology and Wild Green Memes For Ecological Fiends).

Actual photo. Even with an open palm, they might take a taste!
Hand meat

Here is a video of a cicada that has confused my thumb for a juicy tree limb:

Magicicada trying to take a drink from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

See if you can spot the cicadas’ sucker in this illustration:

Illustration from Marlatt

Here’s a photo of a cicada’s mouth parts:

cicada mouth part

There is also a chance that if you believe you’ve been bitten by a cicada, you might have been bitten by a Cicada Killer Wasp. The Cicada Killer Wasp is a large wasp that hunts cicadas, and usually can be found around cicadas or often attached to a cicada. Cicada Killer Wasps normally avoid humans, but if you mess with one, it might attack.

Tip of the day: If you want to avoid cicadas, don’t use power tools, drills, saws, lawn mowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, etc. in their presence. Cicadas think the sound made by these tools and machines are other cicadas. Female cicadas want to mate with the male cicadas they think they’re hearing, and male cicadas want to compete. If you can, use these tools in the morning or close to dusk when the temperatures are cooler, and cicadas are less active.


  1. someone from the internet says:

    I don’t know what hand meat is and at this point I’m too afraid to ask

    1. Dan says:

      The flesh of your hand. Skin, fat and the muscle (meat) beneath.

  2. Courtney says:

    I just wanted to congratulate you on writing a 10/10 article which has accumulated a lot of attention and memes in a bug group I’m in on fb. Keep up the good work!

    1. Dan says:

      My pleasure.

  3. Lol everyone is making memes about the hand meat in the Wild Green Memes for Ecological Fiends group on Facebook and it is an awesome time 10/10

    1. Dan says:

      You just made by day!

      1. Glad to hear it! 🙂

    2. Jack Dis says:

      The memes have also taken over the Entomemeology group on Facebook, omg. Out of control! 😀

  4. NZ Nature Girl says:

    I got pricked by a cicada for the first time today. Literally saw it push it’s proboscis into my finger! I’ve handled them all my life and never had this happen before. It does feel like a sting, and has been itchy and irritated afterwards. I think I’ll be a little more tentative about handling them from now on!

    1. Rushdan Abdul Rashid says:

      Hi, Dan. Are cicadas traveling in groups and can they swarm humans and enter into the mouth like in the series From Season 2 episode 9?

      1. Dan says:

        Fortunately, no.

    2. JMac 713 says:

      I have been catching cicadas my whole life too!! At this point I have not been confused as a tree, but now I will start to be careful. I’m 39 and a nurse, we had one come in our building the other night and I was the only person who was used to catching(and releasing) these!!!

  5. Unknown says:

    I was bitten by a Cicada one time, and it doesn’t hurt. I live in central Indiana and I’m 11 years old, ya wimps! I collect their shells and them all the time with my friends and chase some people with them if they’re scared. It’s fun and they’re so fascinating. Dan, I do have a question, do cicadas scream to attract mates?

    1. Dan says:

      > do cicadas scream to attract mates?

      That is correct!
      The males of most species sing (vibrate their drum-like tymbals).
      Some species of males, click their wings — like Platypedia — and some just vibrate the ground – like Tettigarcta tomentosa.
      Many females communicate with wing flicks as well.

  6. Jon Sibtain says:

    I just got bitten on my top lip by a Cicada and bled! It happened so quickly. Basically this is the reason I found this site searching for potential problems arising from infection.

  7. Kimberly says:

    Cicada is a harmless creatures, how ever I saw some one got hurt by jumped out of the metro train when it about to take off because a cicada just landed on the train floor.

    1. Dan says:

      This can often be explained by looking at terrain and geology and considering what happened in the past that prevented cicadas from moving into an area.

      Modern reasons can be pesticides, development (totally rebuilding neighborhoods and wiping out cicadas in the process), dividing cicada habitat with roads, or other construction (malls, warehouse parks, etc) that wipe out or divide cicada populated areas making the brood weaker — divide and conquer.

      Historically… ~10K years ago when glaciers dominated the top third of North America, and most of the rest of eastern North America was kinda like Canada weather-wise, these cicadas we’re probably hunkered down in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and maybe Mexico. Then as the climate warmed and the glaciers receded, the host trees of these cicadas — mostly hardwoods like Elms, Maples, and Oaks — began to spread into North America. How do they spread — oaks spread when animals spread their nuts; same with maples and elms, but their seeds also spread in the air. As the trees spread northward, so did the animals that helped spread their seeds and the parasites of the trees, like cicadas. Animals and trees tend to follow coasts in particular rivers and streams. Rivers flood, spreading nutrients through sediments and also create fields and meadow areas. All types of species — plants and animals (and fungi) — follow the rivers into the land. Sort of like air filling the trachea of your lungs. Some cicadas stay, some cicadas keep moving as the trees spread northward. During the spreading of species, geology (like a mountain, or a very wide river, or soil or rocks that are poor for growing) or floods or the changing of a river’s flow, can impede the spread of trees and cicadas with them. Sometimes a tree can survive in a place — like the rocky side of a hill or an area that won’t sustain many plants other than trees — where cicadas won’t because they can’t bore into the rock.

      The ideal habitat for these cicadas is an area that has both hardwood trees and shorter plants and grasses. They don’t do well deep in a forest. They don’t do well in areas dominated by pines. And of course, they don’t do well in areas dominated by concrete and asphalt.

      So why? It could be one of the reasons above. Its answer could be lost in time, like an ancient river that blocked their spread. The answer could be buried underground, like some soil that the cicadas couldn’t burrow into. It would take a book just to explain it all.

  8. how do i pick up a cicada i usually grab them from there sides and carefully and gently lift them but is there a better was you know one that doesn’t scare them?

    1. Dan says:

      That’s fine. Don’t pick them up by a single wing or their head.

  9. yfdeds says:

    do cicadas lay egges in ski n

  10. Susan DeMone says:

    Omg all these comments about bring scared and then attacking this beautiful creature and shortening it’s already short life —show some compassion people and google it with your ever present phone —gee—live and let live already —we should share this earth respectfully with other species

    1. Miley says:

      Do cicada bites hurts

      1. Dan says:

        I don’t think so, but everyone feels different levels of pain.

      2. Dragon2O05333 says:

        Yes, they do hurt a little. I was bit by a green one that mistook my hand for a tree while handling it. First they tighten their grip on your hand with their hooked feet, which may sting a small bit. Then when they try to suck, it definitely stings a bit but I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as a bite. They mean no harm and when they realize your hand is not a tree, they stop sucking and crawl around. It would be best advised to carefully pick up a cicada on its sides (don’t touch its wings or head), gently pull and be patient and help along if you can without hurting it; it’s hooked feet may take a minute to unstick from your hand, especially if it starts gripping. They are harmless and not poisonous, so do not worry if a cicada attempts to suck tree sap from your hand.

    2. Timothy0921 says:

      Hey Dan; I found a Cicada Killer (Sphecious Speciosus) clutching a Cicada on the sidewalk. As I approached closer and closer for ever better pictures, the mighty hunter got spooked and flew off without its quarry. As (to my knowledge) the adult Cicada Killer Hornet does not outright kill the Cicada, rather its sing paralyzes the insect, so it can be carried to its nest, whereupon it will have eggs laid in it, the larva, upon hatching, then eat their way out of the still living Cicada, finally killing it. My question is this; a Cicada like the one I found, stung and paralyzed… if it was placed somewhere outside in relative concealment, and assuming it wasn’t subsequently eaten by a bird, or some other damned thing, would its body ultimately clear the paralysing agent, the Cicada finally waking up, relatively no worse for wear, free to fly off, clumsily, into the sunset, or is a Cicada that has been stung by a Cicada Killer, just ultimately screwed beyond that point?

      1. Dan says:

        Not sure about that — can a cicada recover from a sting as long as the larva isn’t installed on the cicada… I’m guessing probably not.

        1. Julia Gregory says:

          Last summer, I found myself in a similar situation. I tried to nurse the stunned cicada back to health with a protected, moist, dark environment, but it never recovered from the sting. Not a very big sample size, I know, but that’s what happened.

    3. Lori Andres says:

      I love your comment and agree with you 100%. Live and let live!

    4. Jamie says:

      As a kid, 35 years ago, my dad taught me how to hold a cicada and let it go without harming it. We didn’t have cell phones back then. He loves nature and the phone doesn’t really allow you to experience the male call close to your ear or in your hand. It’s crazy loud! I love these creatures, and every year to will catch one and look at it to see if it’s from a different brood. There are not very many so it’s interesting to see when a different brood comes up. Have a heart! Phones do not replace life experiences!! Now when a guy try’s to scare me, I just turn and take the little beastie and let him free. I caught one inside our building(nursing home) and showed a coworker the beautiful green-blue hues of the cicada this year, and all my coworkers looked like I was going to throw a black widow spider on them. I forget not everyone know about nature. So I explained to one that looked interested, but mostly I just showed her how pretty the wings are. These guys are not harming us. You can’t do that with a phone, I then took him outside and set him free, away from the door he flew in from.

  11. Fly Addict says:

    I’m lovin’ it! I actually just read like three of your posts today. So that means you better keep writing more, because I am going through these like they’re going out of style.

  12. Maddie057yl says:

    If a Cicada tried to pierce me, will I get a rash or infection?

    1. Dan says:

      Ask a doctor.

    2. D says:

      Nothing happened to me it just startled me.I used to catch them everyday with my brother.They were our favorite insect to catch.

    3. Kathy Little says:

      Sitting out side bbq when suddenly my sister screams her body jolted her head flew back and her spine cured she looked like she was stabbed in her back that’s when I saw th cicada it was trying to stab her again I whacked it with a towel as I am trying to whack it I noticed y dogs hey jolting it stung my dog to . Then the pain was unbarreblev then my sister broke out in Reddit’s all over her legs she couldn’t sleep or eat she was crying for weeks my dog had hives to I took the dog to vet and I took my sister to doctors ,3 different hospitals it was frustrating they all would say the same thing cicadas don’t bite cicadas don’t sting. I’m here today and they do and I got pictures of it. My sister had little things coming out of the hives like bodies of the cicada things now it’s already been a year and she still having problems with her feet drying and splitting, and seems like things are coming out of these bumps, my dog has a rash again and I just looks like my sisters, but I believe that these things are coming out in them in their skin I mean we really don’t know much about the cicadas other than they’ve been down in the ground for how many years and everybody’s so sure that these things don’t hurt us when that is a lie this thing screwed into my sister spine. Obviously it literally screwed her. We need help. We need scientist to look further into this because somebody’s missing a big picture here and my sister needs help.

      1. Conn says:

        Sounds like you are a great storyteller.perhaps you should look into writing Sci fi horror .

        1. Jamie says:

          I agree- nice sci-fi but I bet someone will read it and believe it!!! Then be terrified of it laying eggs in their skin that do not erupt for 17 years!!! Living that whole entire time with the little Larvea in the body!!! Getting ready to take over their nervous system!!! So scary ????

      2. Poplopo says:

        > my sister broke out in Reddit’s all over her legs

        oh damn dude that’s a hell of an infection you should definitely keep her away from redditors of all kinds

  13. Lucy says:

    They are in my house how do I get rid of them

    1. Dan says:

      Send a good photo of them to so we can give you the best advice.

    2. Leandra says:

      Why? Just let them be.

  14. Barbara Ratka says:

    How long will the cicadas be in our area?

    1. Dan says:

      Can’t say unless you say what your area is.

      1. Toejam says:

        5 to 6 weeks they start to decline

        1. Colin says:

          I believed it.

          1. Lisa says:

            They better go away…I hate them.

  15. Sadie says:

    I’ve been planning to finally see (and maybe hold) a live cicada this summer, so this is great to know! I didn’t think they bit, considering they feed off of tree sap, but I wanted to check just in case. Just in case I get to hold one and it tries to suck my blood, how should I remove them? I know not to grab it, but wouldn’t flicking it off hurt it? I just want to make sure that I’m gentle if I have to get it off.

    1. Dan says:

      Don’t wory about vampiric cicadas

  16. Patty says:

    I live in WV the Cicadas are coming out in full force. I don’t like them, I’m curious to know if they will harm hummingbirds. I had a lot of hummers until the last couple days and just “poof” gone. Hopefully they are ok.

    1. Dan says:

      Their song seems to drive away birds, including hummingbirds, but they always return (the birds). Since the cicadas usually start calling around 10am, so the birds might have a chance to feed earlier in the morning.

    2. Ruth says:

      We live in Ohio and the same thing happened here. Our hummingbirds appear to be gone. I will leave the feeders out & hope they are coming sometimes. I’ve heard that the cicadas will only be here about 6-7 weeks….

  17. Leslie says:

    Oh my goodness, I don’t know whether to laugh or shake my head at some of these comments. Coming summer of 2015: the Attack of the killer cicadas! LoL. It’s sad there are so many people who don’t understand this insect. I guess I take for granted my rural upbringing.

    1. dodi geary says:

      Why are you a year behind?

      1. Baby girl 34 says:

        For real life just noticed that hmm that’s just not right kinda fishy Hugh should be at the bottom of your 2016 not in the middle of the 2016’s . something’s off lol

    2. Kathy Little says:

      That’s a blessing so since ou have a rural education the cicada will never know the difference because after it drill s you with his needle you are going to wish you you never did then you’ll feel like the average person who has just been screwed by cicada left feeling so dumb not to mention how much pain you will have then the rash that can vets your burning body and the insomnia, you will have from all the baby cicadas climbing out of your skin and this goes on for months so when you’re thinking about holding that pretty little cicada lady, see what happens they don’t tell you about this because they’ve been in the ground for so long and nobody really does anything about it? These things are mean and nasty doesn’t take a royal education and know that .

      1. Lawrence says:

        What on God’s green earth are you talking about?

  18. Marguerite says:

    Yes – but not VA Beach. I checked the brood maps and we seem to be exempt. Perhaps it’s the sandy soil. 🙂 Either way, I’m glad for it. I am not a fan of the ambush.

  19. Marguerite says:

    I found your site by a Googling “do cicadas bite”. This afternoon, I went out into my yard to go float in my pool. (I live in Virginia Beach.) Before I got in, I noticed some large brown insects on the stairs of the pool. I went to look for the net to clean them out and got distracted by some plants in the garden that had gotten knocked down by hurricane/tropical storm Arthur last week and while I was bending over to check a plant, I felt something sharp on my backside. Instinctively, I brushed the area with my hand and something very large and brown flew away. I really did not get a good look at it, but decided to go in and clean the area that was bitten. When I came back out on my screen porch, I noticed the cicadas were singing and did a search to see if these were annual or cyclic/periodic. I found out that this area of VA does not seem to get periodic cicadas – so figured these must be annual and looked up a picture of the tibicen lyricen that seemed to be the species which sings at dusk. The picture appears similar to the insects on the pool stairs and the fact that I was wearing a brown swimsuit could mean they thought I was a tree! 🙂

    1. Dan says:

      VA gets the periodical cicadas, just not this year. 🙂

  20. Marshall says:

    I was using my trimmer in some high grass outside. This large heavy bug landed on the back of my arm. I flicked it off and went about my business. But it found the same spot on my arm again. I swatted it off then moved to another location. It found me AGAIN! so swatted really hard and in the corner of my eye I saw in fall in the grass. It looked dead so I picked it up by the wing and set it on my car trunk and took pictures. I saw the proboscis and got concerned. My research landed me on this website. I think this particular creature was going for the kill.

  21. Regina says:

    Once I see a cicada, I become afraid. They are very mean and they do attack, because one got after me one time and I ran. I’m very afraid of them!

  22. Tom P says:

    Was at Smith Mountain Lake in VA catching Cicada’s for fishing (amazing bait by the way). I would catch them and hold them in my hand sometimes 5 or 6 for prolonged periods. I would feel a bite or sting frequently. I thought it was just their legs grabbing hold. That night I woke up with bites like a mosquito or small hives. I literally have a hundred all over the palms of my hand. It is extremely uncomfortable. I have barely been able to sleep for 2 nights and have a doctors appointment today. It is not Poison Ivy (I get that too). I wish I could post a picture. I have had similar looking marks from catching bristle worms in the ocean. In any event, I have caught cicadas when they were around my whole life and never had this issue.

    1. Dan says:

      Go see a doctor and let us know how it turns out.

    2. Ed says:

      Why don’t you start wearing gloves?

  23. madison says:

    i was juskoutside when my dog was sniffing at somthing and my dad told me to see what he was sniffing at so i went and looked but i couldn`t see anything and then i saw a whole bunch of bugs i did not know where they came from but i asked my parents what it was and they said it was a cicada i started freaking out so i just ran inside to look up if they bite or sting so then when i finished reading i did this

  24. Patch says:

    I found a cicada in a parking lot where I work, picked it up and it started screaming bloody murder. I left it in a co-worker’s cash register drawer because i knew he was afraid of bugs and told him that there were reports of huge mutant virus flies that scream at you before they kill you. Having said that ive picked them up and held them before, never had a problem with one trying to drink the sap out of me.

  25. MrsJH says:

    Here’s a thought…wear a garden glove, then pick it up, or let it grab on. Then you can look through its wings…they’re clear, basically. Really fascinating creatures.

  26. Dave says:

    It’s only likely to happen if you hold a cicada in your hand for a very long time, so long that it begins to get thirsty from not being on a plant where it can drink, or if the cicada has been kept in a cage for a long time away from living plant material. You will never be pricked by a cicada that you just pick up and put on your hand briefly if you just caught it from the vegetation.

  27. M says:

    Its a good thing I found this site. I NEVER knew cicadas “bite”. I would always pick these insects up or off tree ever since I was young. And still do but won’t anymore. I’ve held these insects many many times. If you touch the behind part (don’t know what its call, the butt??) of these insects it would start to buzz. I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood.

  28. robin stachniik says:

    I used to play with these things when I was a kid and they never punctured me, I think people are exaggerating. During the 17 year ones in Illinois I used to grab handfuls of them and I am terrified of spiders, june bugs, any type of roach, and centipedes. These are kind of cute.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I am at school with a bug catcher full of cicadas.I have played with these things since I can remember.One has punctured me, it felt like getting a mesquito bite.I’m 11 people, stop being such wimps.

  30. Rachel says:

    I live in GA and I’ve never been stabbed by a cicada. We have them all over the place starting from about late May until early August and I find the nymph shells everywhere. But the point is.. They never bother us much. We have the really big ones too.

  31. Last night while sitting by a bonfire at dusk, a cicada flew into and got tangled in my hair. As I frantically tried to untangle it, it bite/or stung me in the forehead-it felt like a bee sting, or having gotten into itch weed, that stings! I didn’t see it actually, but felt it-and being I’ve handled many before w/no problem-I didn’t expect the painful stinging sensation. It got untangled and flew off without me seeing it, all I heard before and after was the fast whirring of wings like a hummingbird when they get close. It for sure did something, as it hurt for a few hrs., and then I developed a very painful headache on that side, even my jaw and teeth hurt on that side like when you have a sinus infection. Idk, but maybe when they spazz out from being held captive in tangled hair they pull out the big guns. I’m here to tell you that they do inflict much pain.

  32. Lisa says:

    I live in Florida and they drive me nuts! My cats LOVE to catch these things, bring them in the house and play with them until they no longer buzz lol…Tonight, one of the cats came in with one hanging out of his mouth, played with it for 15-20 minutes, and then ate it, ick. I noticed him limping, which was why I was wondering if they bite. Guess he must have gotten poked! Good to know though! Thanks for the info everyone!

  33. Ami says:

    I had a very similar experience to MaryAnn. I live in central Alabama. On the evening of august 24, a bug kept hitting my patio door with gusto. It sounded like it was really trying to get inside. I turned on the patio light to see what was making all of the racket, but didn’t see what it was….just something big and black. Later, after the noise had settled down, I opened the door to see a large (thumb sized) black bug with a hard shell on the door mat. I kicked it with my shoe to get it off the rug. The thing literally made a screaming “eee,eee,eee” noise. It sounded like a human or animal….I swear to it. It startled me so much, I scream, too, and slammed the door shut. I wish I had captured it and taken a picture. The next morning, it was gone. I thought it might have been a baby bat (except it had a hard shell) or a large beetle…I didn’t see any wings. FREAKY!

  34. MaryAnn says:

    I don’t care if the thing tries to eat me because it thinks I’m a tree, or if it bites, or if it tries to fight me because it thinks I’m a giant competetive male! Does it matter WHY it attacks you? 🙂 It’s a giant, screaming bug that is attacking you! I went outside last night to check out what was banging against my window when all of a sudden a giant bug divebombed me sounding like it was screaming. My husband thought it was a bat, I didn’t know what to think at first, but I screamed like a little girl and ran! I thought it was a locust, but now I realize it must have been a cicada. There’s nothing else it could have been and no reason to make this up (not like I’m googling screaming bugs for the heck of it)lol. And seriously, if the thing can pierce a TREE, I’m pretty sure it can pierce SKIN and I bet that would hurt! My experience was exciting to say the least, especially after it kept attacking the front door. Oh, and I wasn’t using any lawn equipment, and I didn’t speak or anything when I went outside to see what was making the noise against the window, and I’m 99% sure the thing saw me and then dived in my direction. It turned away from the window and flew towards me!

    1. Sasha Kelley says:

      I live in Washington DC, Cicadas will come out on May 31st 2021 7:56 am

  35. John says:

    I have a cicada stuck in my home in a crawl space I cannot reach. Any ideas on how to lure it out? The noise it makes at night while trying to sleep is horrible.

    1. Dan says:

      Try using a light source to lure it out.

  36. Lindsey says:

    I found a cicada about 10 minuites ago and I thought it was stining me, but apparently it thought I was a tree.

  37. Jess says:

    One flew into my house today…It landed in the sink. It’s trapped there now, but I’m terrified of them. What’s the best way to capture and get it back outside?

    1. Dan says:

      Use a pillow case, but remove the cicada before you go to sleep tonight.

  38. Molly says:

    Today on my way out of the house, I saw a cicada on my house on my garage door. I started to freak out, so I showed my mom. She thought it was a cicada but wasn’t sure. When we got home my mom found it in the garage and after reading these comments I’m scared to go in there because I have never been stung or whatever by anything before. It almost got into my house, so I am really scared now!!! 😐

    1. Dan says:

      Don’t worry. They’re not so bad.

  39. Mary says:

    I’m sitting in a chair in my booth at the Columbia, MO Pirate Fest. A cicada landed on my hand about 10 minutes ago and since I wasn’t freaked out about it, I just watched it for a while, and sure enough, after a few minutes it began to probe my skin for liquid. I’d never seen that before & was quite surprised. I poked it, it moved to another spot, implied
    I poked it, it moved & tried it again. It was then I decided to send it on it’s way & do some research. So I’ve learned something new today.

  40. Richard says:

    i was jumping on my trampoline when a cicada landed on my leg and it felt like it stung me

  41. Brie says:

    their were a bunch of cicadas at the Dairy Queen in Hillsboro Illinos.

    1. Kurtis Krupka says:

      Did u c what they were getting at DQ. After a long day of brooding,those cicadas deserve to cool off, right?

  42. Joe Schmoo says:

    I was attacked by thousands of bloodthirty Cicada’s. It was just like Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”. It is Lon Chaney’s death of a thousand cuts. At night they plot how to get into kids bedrooms. LOL

    Seriously get a life…. they are harmless..

  43. mancho-man says:

    I was attacked by hundreds of cicadas while attempting to weedwack my yard ! They were swarming all around me ,and I could see even more flying from down the street heading quickly towards me. I held my ground and began swatting them with my hat and even the weedwacker. Unfortunately this seemed to anger them. They continued to swarm around me in all directions attacking me one after another. AND YES THEY DO BITE (pretty sure) but I stood my ground and kept fighting them off. This seemed to make many many more come. By now my neighbors whom were watching all this seemed very amused , especially when I threw the dang weedwacker down and ran like hell back to the garage, all the while screaming helpppp!


    1. Dan says:

      Using a weedwacker is the worst thing you can do. Cicadas are attracted to the sounds of lawn maintenance equipment. They think it’s other cicadas, and they want to join it. A man with a weekwacker is like a small tree filled with singing cicadas, and very attractive to females looking for a mate, and competitive males. The best thing to do is to cut the lawn when it is cooler than 70F – in the morning, or before sundown.

    2. Angel dusenberry says:

      This happened to me this morning….One was on my neck and all I did was walk outside where my bf was weed eating…went back inside and there was this telecom like noise close to my ear and of coarse I did a big ol help me dance…didn’t think about the video I saw where they like the sound…so I go out to help weed eat and yep I remember now they swarmed at me like crazy and I was done said here ya go finish it urself…ugggghhh

      1. Dan says:

        That is correct. They are attracted to machinery. One tip is to do your gardening in the morning or near dusk when they are less active.

  44. Tia says:

    I had people throw them at me on the bus ! I am personally t e r r i f i e d of the things . Next person to throw one at me is Gonna get hit ! Those things are ugly &nd creepy . I don’t care if they can hurt me or not !
    I c k k k k k!

  45. Tess says:

    I hate cicadas!!!! I’m always afraid to go outside my brother says they won’t kill me but after reading this I have a reason to be afraid to go outside.

    1. Kerensa says:

      What do you mean @Tess after reading this you have a reason…? This clearly says that they are virtually harmless. Chances of one confusing you for a tree are fairly low.

  46. Tess says:

    I hate cicadas!!!! I’m always afraid to go outside. My brother is always saying they wont kill me but after I read this, I have a reason to be afraid to go outside.

  47. Jaye Ellen says:

    I live in Gallatin TN and my partner just mowed the lawn; the dumb bugs chased the mower (and her) and she ended up with 3 or 4 “bites”, but they could be from the priobiscus thingy. She said it’s quite painful and itchy. These nuisances have3 been around for 3 weeks already, and we may have up to 3 more weeks of this??? I sure hope not, as the nouise is earsplitting with the number of them flying and doing their thing … it can NOT end soon enough !!!

  48. Randa says:

    I feel as if I’m living in The Twilight Zone in Nashville right now! It’s so loud, it makes my ears ring…literally deafening. This is apocalyptic proportions of cicadas in the Vandy/West End area. They seem to be a goofy bug…they fly right into ya. One landed on the back of my calf y’day as I jogged and it felt like a stab, but i think it was the prickly legs they have. You’d hv thought they had their number in for my daughter running with me. She was screaming every minute. Uh. This is suppose to last for the whole summer??? Omg…

    1. Dan says:

      They only list 4 to 6 weeks max. Enjoy them while they’re around. 🙂

  49. Jake from Franklin, TN says:

    I’m 15 and every morning when I walk to the bus stop, I see these things all over the ground and in trees. I’ve sometimes picked them up, but they never bite me or anything. Sometimes they chase after me and my friends. And they’re not that scary. I think it’s their mating season or something. They also make a noise that’s crazy loud and anoying as hell when they all do it.

  50. Christa in Middle TN says:

    I found this site after a cicada climbed up my neck. He didn’t try anything but I figured I should Google to see if he could. 🙂 He apparently took a ride into the house on me after I walked the dog. He’s also the second one I’ve rescued from the house today. I have an insect removal device (coffee can with lid) that’s getting a workout lately. Due to moving around, this is my first big cicada season since I was a kid. The sound of them brings back some good childhood memories.

    1. Kurtis Krupka says:

      Don’t they bring back those hot summer memories of childhood? I find this enchanting. I played with them as a kid.(harmless) Like yourself..I also have an insect removing contraption. Why kill anything that means you no harm? I capture and free all kinds of critters that wind up in the house.
      I’m sure they’d rather be back outside with their world as well.

  51. Matt says:

    From NE AL, try cutting grass. Wow, swarms of cicadas were after me. At one point, I had three on my body. Needless to say I have took a break from grass cutting. Also, I was not bit nor stung, however they did follow and land on me. I was not stationary, I was on a riding lawnmower at full speed, so thinking I’m a tree belief does not bode with me.

    1. Dan says:

      The female cicadas think your lawn mower is a male.

  52. Lena Lin says:

    After reading almost all these comments about cicada’s I realize that there should be alarm if one gets on you, Because I do believe that they think your a tree, and may want to taste. The profestionals think it’s stupid to say they bite. But Have one pierce them, They’ll be singing a different tune. Many of you said that it hurts. Well, For those of you who haven’t been pierced yet, Don’t let them. They are as ugly and interesting as can be. But I’ll be staying away from the little monsters thanks to this website.

  53. ann godfrey says:

    Thanks’ for this site. I had never seen this insect and feared they would destroy our flowers. After reading your info. My little granddaughters had a ball.
    May 1, 2011

  54. nicole says:

    they are out in masses in greenwood,sc right now … there are so many you can’t walk outside our apartment without stepping on them GROSS lol

  55. Lisa says:

    I have handled cicadas many times with no problems. I love them and still do. Just now I found one in my bedroom, sitting on the floor. I picked it up and as it had cob webs all over it, I began cleaning it up. Once the wings were cleared I tried to move it so I could get to the cob web on it’s stomach. It didn’t like that and so it bit me and flew away.
    It hurt briefly but I put papaya ointment on and almost immediately the pain subsided.
    It certainly didn’t mistake me for a tree! It was telling me that I had gone far enough.
    Cicadas are beautiful friendly creatures and so I hope people don’t become afraid of them just because of the occasional freak bite.

    1. Kerensa says:

      Lisa, I agree completely. I was a child during the last brood (25 years old in northern WV), and back then I would go outside and hold them and “play” with them (lol). Now on this brood, I feel they are a bit more excessive than the last, but regardless I’ve never been harmed by one, so I see no reason to be afraid or to want to hurt them. As a normal rational person, I’d rather they not hang out on me, but if one lands on me I’m not going to freak out or squash it or scream like a little Nancy girl. As someone said earlier in the comments, they’re only here for 6ish weeks EVERY 17 YEARS. Suck it up wussies 😉

  56. david ortiz- austin, tx. says:

    WOW!!! I can.t believe how many people out there freak out with these tamed insects!? I have lived out in the country for years here near Austin, Tx. and in the city of Houston, and these things are a common site during the hot summers of texas. I love seeing them mutate from a crawling insect, climb a tree and then mutate into a flying insect once they break out of their old skin like shell which they leave behind. Their shell stays behind and they are reborn! Then they do their mateing call which is a loud cherping screeching sound that just ecoes into a hot quiet afternoon. When there are many in one tree they all cherp in one accord and it sounds so cool! Its part of a hot texas summer here in Austin. 🙂 I feel sorry for them bcause there are some large wasps that hunt them down and captcher them just to inject their eggs into their abdomens so that the wasps babies can hatch in the cicadas and eat them alive from the inside! I have seen this freak of nature in several occations. Note, when your a country man, you see alot of cool things in the insect world. 🙂 hope you enjoyed reading my take on this matter? good day ya,ll….. david ortiz

  57. Kristy says:

    Listen… to the people that say Cicada’s do NOT bite, sting or hurt… Cicadas feed by piercing the surface of plants with their mouth stylets. They then suck up the sap through a tube formed by the concave surfaces of two of the stylets. This piercing and sucking kind of feeding apparatus can be contrasted with the biting and chewing kind found in grasshoppers, cockroaches, beetles and caterpillars. Cicadas are able to hurt you, but they almost never do. These are facts from all kinds of places and life experience. I have a Cicada sitting outside on my chair, after reading these comments i decided i would test this theory. So i sat there next to him and observed him for awhile then put my finger in front of him until he crawled onto it, he then proceeded to stick out his stylet and feel around then walk a little more up my hand. Still feeling around he found a sweat pore and started pressing the front of his body down until it pierced my skin, it got a little too much so i pulled him off. Yes they DO hurt, but they don’t go out of their way to jab you.

  58. Briana l. says:

    Omg now im paranoid and scared of them now… 0.o

  59. chris/samy says:

    fistoff i pick cicadas up all the time and this biting never hapens second did you read the top it says “They might try to pierce and suck you, but don’t worry, they aren’t Vampires nor are they malicious or angry — they’re just ignorant and think you’re a tree.” so dont be afriad of them cicadas can be very butifull and interesting so pleas go find your firendly noborhood cicada.

  60. Old Goat Lady says:

    Oh, I will! Not just yet, though. I haven’t even gotten the videos off my camera yet. Will notify when I do.

  61. Old Goat Lady says:

    I just made 5 or 6 videos of a cicada who would not allow my family and me to go outside. It was false imprisonment, to say the least. A friend tried to go out, and a silent cicada flew in. Then, the other cicada, who was very boistrous, like a screaming cat, was attacking all of us in quite the psychotic manner. My son caught it and was holding it by it’s sides very gently, and he and the cicada began to have a screaming match. It was hilarious, and so I thought I might actually open a youtube account for giggles. We’ll call the videos “Cicada training, 101. No Cicadas were harmed during the taping of these videos, but let me tell you, every time we went to set the loud one free, he would charge right back at us with great vengeance, and a lot of screaming ensued. After setting his silent partner free, there have been no further skirmishes with this monster.:)

    1. Dan says:

      I hope you post the videos online!

  62. Dave says:

    I have a video of me playing with a cicada. It stabs a leather glove with it’s proboscis then it tries to stab my finger. Crazy video!

  63. Wolven Cappon says:

    Today on August 8,2010 I helped a little cicada get right side up off the ground, when it tried to pierce my finger(pointer) I quickly flicked it off. After about 30 min. my finger was still irritating me so I came inside to learn a little about cicadas. Instead, I found out that cicadas are so dumb that they thought my finger was a tree limb. 🙂

  64. christan says:

    i seen a cicada today at my sister’s. it was crawling into the ground,we were saying what’s that and dismissed it. later on one flew into the house and we caught it. it was screaming like a cat with a rocking chair on it’s tail. I have never heard of this bug until i looked it up on the computer. It really is a weird creature!

  65. Johnny says:

    Cicada’s don’t bite or sting. They don’t hurt in anyway. However if you catch one before it’s molted, the front claws can almost hurt. 🙂 If you have claimed to have been bitten or stung by one, it was something else or your imagination.

  66. kathryn says:

    Today I saw one on a rose plant I got my sister to try catch it in a jar as it was making a really annoying sound. When we put a jar around it made a sound that was similar to a wasps buzz it then flew away.. It doesn’t look that harmful but now I’ve read these comments I will not persuade anyone to catch one again !

  67. vicki says:

    they do BITE!!!!!!! was on my deck after swimming in the pool. I has a oil torch lit and was just sitting in my chair and it buzzed in my hair. when i swept it off my head, it bite my ring finger on my left hand and immediately it starting swelling up and hurt like hell!!! could not wear my rings for about 6 days and the bite site was red and tender to the touch…now, when i am outside, if i hear one screaming like the other one did, i RUN!!!!!

  68. Kathy says:

    My son was stung/bitten (near an apple tree) by a cicada bug last night! It was the most painful thing he has experieced. Stung him on the knuckle of his index finger, drew blood, and his entire hand is swollen up to his wrist! I witnessed it continuing to circle him, and keep trying to attack him!

  69. Jake says:

    There were hundreds of them flying around my front yard. My dad started to cut the grass and they all landed on him. I had to help him pick them all off!

  70. David says:

    Cicadas do not sting or bite, they are not venomous. However, their legs can be slightly prickly AND with just the right amount of fear mixed with imagination, you may think you’ve just been bitten or stung. They are harmless, although if you’re afraid of them they can cause you to hurt yourself trying to get away from them.

    I’m from Alabama and I love the sound of cicadas, to me their sound is pure 100% southern summer. (I know they live all over the world.)

    I have fond memories as a child, caching them as they crawled out of the ground, placing them in a jar and staying up most of the night to watch them molt from their shell and transform into their adult size. For me that process of transformation is still amazing!

    I love how moviemakers, producing summer movies, usually have cicadas singing in the background. I also love when novelist write about them to set a summer scene.

    Again, to me, it’s pure southern summer.

    1. Kurtis Krupka says:

      We also have the cicada symphony in central new York. I’d awaken on steamy summer mornings during summer vacation to their harmonious song. I couldn’t get outside fast enough to my neighbors wooden fence where I usually found several cicadas exiting their old skin shells..patiently I’d watch this fascinating display of new born magic. Moist.. as they shed their brittle shells.Now, with their wing ends still full of liquid. I knew better(by my wise father)to allow these new creatures time to absorb fluid sacs. In a days time I’d have a few of the little guys crawling up my arms.(simply harmless)Easy to get attached to for a child. Cicadas summer song echos wonderful memories in upstate New York.

  71. Ellie says:

    wow. i didn’t know that they did that. i dont think they’re trying to hurt you, though. the one i saved yesterday tried to feed on me and i know this because i saw his/her mouth thingy starting to fold out. i got kinda scared because i read this blog and i didn’t want to get hurt. now im kind of scared of them… i’m still going to save them though.

  72. Rosestormchicken says:

    The puncture does hurt. Went out the front door and twice this week there have been cicada lurking. I pointed my cane toward one to make it move and it attacked it. The one tonight got on my little finger, punctured, I howled and shook it off finally. Then when I went to whack it with my cane it jumped on the cane and then on my leg. Yuck! But life got short for it then. But they are tough!

  73. Ellie says:

    i save these awesome buggies all the time. i just now saved one when it came falling out of a tree. it hit my recycling can and its wings are all bent out of shape. hes running around like hes fine but he tried to fly multiple times but he didnt have any success 😛 i dont think they sting because whenever i hold them nothing happens. and i read that if you sit still while one is on you, it could think you’re a tree and it could try to feed on you. its not purposely trying to hurt you though.

  74. Raina says:

    I live in Indiana and I found one on a tree. I went to get my big brother to touch it with a stick,and when he did,a huge stinger came zig-zaging out!!! OMG!!!

  75. Shari says:

    I live in North Florida. I was surprised to read the post from the lady in Fl who said she often had them. I was born and raised in S. Fl and never saw one. But have moved to N. Fl now. One day I heard a VERY loud buzzing noise. It was so loud it alarmed me. So I opened the front door to find a dead Cicada (was his chirping his farewell speech)? I was so impressed by it and it’s massive size. I put it’s body in a jar to save and show to someone. My neighbor’s son collects insects and he ask for it. So that “little” guy “lives on” in a collection. It impressed quite a few of us who had never seen one. And now I have finally heard the sound I’ve heard so much about from others.
    Was it lost? Never seen one before or since and it’s been a several years.

  76. M W Desteiguer says:

    What is wrong with you psycho’s??????
    Cicada’s don’t bite….they don’t have a mouth!
    They do however have a straw-like appendage wich is how they feed themselves.
    Hell, if you was to leave one on your arm long enough sure they would attempt to eat, but they don’t suck blood….get real!
    I have considered Cicada’s my favorite insect for nearly 35 years. When I was 8 years old I would go out at night and gather them before they would hatch and put them on the inside of my window screen. They would hatch and in the morning I would send them on their way. Kinda my way of making sure one of God’s creatures survived the process of hatching overnight.
    They are quite harmless and after letting my kids read your silly stories they are laughing at each one of you….don’t confuse this with laughing with you……wimps.

  77. ook says:

    I was gardening with a friend when I saw a cicada on a plant. I let it crawl onto my finger and it stayed there for a while. Then I saw what looked like a proboscis or something come out towards my finger, so I flicked the cicada off. It didn’t pierce the skin, but it sort of freaked me out. 🙂

  78. RandmAxess says:

    I was sitting on my girlfriends couch petting her cat when all of a sudden there as a strange creepy feeling on my arm. I looked down and there was huge cicada latched to my shirt. It had greenish wings and big buggy eyes. My girlfriend heard me moaning and came to see this thing that was perched on my arm so she went to get a glass jar to capture it. By the time she got back she said I looked pale and thought maybe he sucked too much blood which really FREAKED me out! She said not to worry but keep it away from the cat he’s already too shy. We kept it in the jar but he died over night and I can’t find any taxidermists to mount it for me.

  79. BNyc3AtBall says:

    I was terrified when I was on my skateboard and I was about to ollie (jump with a skateboard) over a crate.. Next thing this HUGE bug falls centimeters from my head and it messed me up so bad.. I ran away for 10 seconds and came back… And it stopped screeching I was like !! What is that? Then I figured it had to be a cicada cause it was the loudest and biggest screaming bug I ever saw.. Then it was starting to get dark.. And I think I rolled over it =(..

  80. mostwanted says:

    i was at a 7-11 store and i was getting out of my car, and realized what was in the back seat,( a huge cicada) and it bit me, everyone thinks that its all in my head, it happened, i didnt take long for me to feel nausious, i think it wanted to kill me? but i lived to tell the story, and bottom line. they bite… and most people say that they dont hurt you, b.s ..oh… and someone also told me that they cant see? b.s… that one that bit me at first circled around the parking lot and attacked me again. my wife is a witness,

  81. Bruce Wrigleys gumchew says:

    I often wondered whether or not cicadas bite…or cause pain in some “weird” way. I live in Fla. and I get them on my driveway often. I often find them on their backs buzzing and chirping trying to get right side up. I just flip them over carefully with a stick. I never picked one up by hand though. Thats when I googled “do cicadas bite?” and found this site. Glad I read this. I have often been tempted to pick one up. Hah..not anymore. Thanks for the comments people 🙂

    1. Dan says:

      It’s possible that they could puncture your skin with their straw-like mouth parts because they think you’re a tree, but they don’t bite or sting in self defense like bees, wasps, and ants do.

  82. Rachel says:

    I saw two weird looking bugs on my trash can while cleaning my car. I took a picture of them and e-mailed them to my husband. Needless to say i quit cleaning my car. I DON”T LIKE BUGS. My nephew came out to see what all of the fuss was about. I was looking them up online. he told me they were called cicadas and that they normally don’t bite. I found out that it was only the shell that was on my trash can so no i get to go finish cleaning my car. I was really freaked out though, because i have never seen anything like it before.

  83. Jack says:

    Wow, cicadas hurt, and it’s especially annoying since I prevented it from being incinerated. It was crawling on me and suddenly i felt this VERY sharp pain in my finger and I saw the aforementioned very large, painful, proboscis.

  84. char says:

    omg the other day I was getting a cicada out of my pool because it was drowning. I saved it. It sat on me for a while but then it felt like it was stabbing me. I had a look and this big long stick like thing was stabbing my hand and it really hurt!!!!!

  85. Angus says:

    OK today I had a Cicada latch onto my arm and peiced through my shirt and started to suck my blood… It was sitting on there for about 10 minutes before I realised what was happening.

    Secondly I tried to get it off me, it flew back on and proceeded to bite me.


    im also not feeling so good at the moment.. Ive never been bitten by one before.

  86. Noel says:

    While my 7-month-old grandchild was in his saucer on the porch this morning, a cicada landed on his cheek and began to buzz. i flicked it off but his cheek is all red. i think it is from irritation (he has sensitive skin) rather than from any kind of bite.

  87. Dan says:

    I hope not — they aren’t that tough.

  88. letoya says:

    one was on my tire this morning. u said that it sucks, will it pierce my tire? i dont need another flat one.

  89. angel says:

    I am writing tonight July 19th 2008,I saw this other comment by Ashley and it blew my mind.I live in wolfeboro NH and I found a cicada last night after the thunderstorm we had and I held it on my finger and brought it to the store,I drove,walked around the store and payed for groceries while this thing was sitting in my thumb!!!I didnt realise what it was,my 4 yr old daughter was sticking her fingers in front of it and it lifted its 2 front legs and then opened its mouth and this like 3-4 inch straw like thing came out of its mouth,that was my que to get it off of my hand!!I flicked it and it flew away.It never made any noises or buzzing at all during the whole hour and a half!I am so happy that I got the opportunity to hold such an amazing creature especially for that long without it biting me!!

  90. ashley hemmings says:

    when i was younger i found a cicada and i was showing my mom ,then all of a sudden it pierced my finger.About 6 years later(today) i found another one on the ground after a freak thunder storm ant i don’t know if its going to do that buzzing thing or even sting me, are there any signs to show that they will buzz or sting?

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