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May 19, 2016

Keeping cicadas for a short period of time

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 12:44 pm

We previously discussed raising cicadas from egg to adult. How about keeping adult cicadas for an hour, a day or more?

If you plan on keeping cicadas for a few hours, many containers will do. Just keep them in the shade, make sure the container is ventilated (has holes so air can flow in and out), and add a moist paper towel for a source of water & moisture.

I prefer to use Butterly Pavilions, which are small, expandable, portable enclosures. You can reuse them for other insects once the cicadas have gone.

Any Longer than a few hours, and you should make sure the cicadas have a source of fluids — the best source is a tree branch.

Temporary Cicada Enclosure

Cicada researcher & enthusiast Elias Bonaros shared his secrets for keeping adult cicadas alive. His record is 28 days for a Neotibicen auletes.

I usually used oak branches for above two species. I placed them into a butterfly pavilion. I used a small spring water bottle into the enclosure and placed the end of the branch into it. Be sure to place some paper towel or cotton in the open spaces at the mouth of the bottle because I had some specimens walk into the bottle and drown! Our beloved cicadas are not too bright.

I have never tried the sapling although that would seem the best as the tree can generate its own xylem pressure.

I change the branch every day vs every other day. Every third day is not good.

Takes a lot of work.

Another idea is to surround a branch of a live tree with netting, and place them in that — the same type of netting you would use to keep them off a branch will keep them on it.

The advantage of a Butterfly Pavilion is you can keep the cicada inside your home or lab.


  1. The cicada master says:

    I have a really rare cicada a blue eyed one I have made it a place with a large Tupperware box with holes and put a bunch of leaves and a branch without leaves do you think it will survive?

    1. Dan says:

      For a short period of time. They do get thirsty. You can try some paper towels soaked in water, so see if they’ll drink, but the best thing is to put a small branch with leaves into a corsage vial of water (or something similar) to keep them alive.

  2. Morgan says:

    I was digging up roots and accidentally dig up a cicada I’m not for sure that I need to do I don’t have a butterfly provilion what kind of tupwear should I use what should I put in the tule wear right now I have apple tree branches and some sliced apples I put a little electrolyte hummingbird feeder nectar on the apples but I need help I don’t know what to do he seems not very strong and moving super slow and falls on his back easy

    1. Dan says:

      It depends on how far along it is in its lifecycle. If it’s almost ready to molt, it might do so in the pavilion.
      If it’s too young, it might be best to put it back in the ground next to a small exposed root.

  3. Star says:

    OMG!! This morning meditating at the park this “beatle” bug climbed on me up to my shoulder and stayed there. When it was time to leave it didn’t want to get off. So I drove home, made breakfast, did some cleaning all with it on my shoulder. I thought it had died. Then I went to sit and it “hatched” molted and came out a beautiful and green circadia. I am going to the park now to get him a branch, he seems to want to stay with me for a while. So I am going to support him in every way I can. Thanks for the Amazing info!!

  4. Zain Al-Shemmeri says:

    I will be trying this 🙂 thanks for the info

  5. Laura says:

    At the end of the 2004 Brood X emergence, I collected egg twigs and brought them to a nearby park and stuck them in the ground. I was hoping to re-establish the brood at a place where it *probably used to live…Valley Forge Park PA.
    I went back there the other day but I didn’t hear anything. Either it was a poor environment …it was deep woods, rather than edge lands…or they hatched and birds ate them.
    I might do the same thing this time. Any advice?

  6. i have a pet cicada who will not eat the sticks i bring him i make sure they have sap but he wont touch them! im worried. help!!

    1. Dan says:

      They don’t eat the sticks, but they will drink from fresh branches. Give them a fresh branch to drink from.

  7. jacob the cicada says:

    i was digging around my front lawns stone bricks and found a cicada larva and i am next to him right now

  8. brayden says:

    i put netting on the top instead

  9. brayden says:

    i put my pet cicada in a clear crissont box then poked some holes, i got a few tree branches and put them in along with a moist paper towel will it work?

    1. Dan says:

      Poke a few more holes in for good measure. I usually use a butterfly pavillion, and keep twigs alive with floral vials.

  10. privet says:

    hey i found 1 hurt cicada and 1 that is fine but it wont fly in total 2 cicadas but how should i take care of them, i’m just a cicada loving kid?

  11. Cameron says:

    I have many Magicicada septendecims and septendeculas in captivity. They are mating and laying eggs. I’m here in NJ. So Brood IX should be here in 17 years!!!!!

  12. Dody Augustein says:

    how long do they live when out of tree?

    1. Dan says:

      3-4 weeks.

  13. david emery says:

    We used a small tree growing in a large pot and place double-speced netting (about 3 cm space) on a wooden frame over it. The spaced netting was to stop birds attacking cicadas which were crawling on the inside netting

    1. Cameron says:

      We did that too!

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