There's been a lot of buzz (no pun intended) about cicadas coming out of hiding and swarming into some areas of the Midwest and Southeast this summer. With proper precautions, cicadas present minimal risks to pets.  

In this blog post, I’ll answer frequently asked questions, explore any potential risks of cicada encounters for pets, and provide tips on how to keep your pets safe around these flying insects. 

Key Takeaways

  • While they are large and quite loud, cicadas present only a minimal risk to your pet

  • Cicadas are not poisonous, and “zombie cicadas” cannot infect your pet

  • If your cat or dog eats a cicada, it’s important to keep an eye out for any digestive issues and the potential for choking

What are 2024 Cicadas and Are They Dangerous for Pets?

For the first time since 1803, two species of cicadas have emerged from hiding - the 13-year cicadas and the 17-year cicadas. Scientists consider the return of the “2024 cicadas” to be a historic event as it won’t happen again until 2037.

While rare, the cicadas in 2024 are unlikely to present significant safety issues for humans or their pets.

An infographic depicting the hot spots for the 2024 cicada emergence.

Are Cicadas Poisonous to Pets? 

No. The good news for pet parents is that cicadas are not poisonous or venomous. Cicadas don’t bite or sting as they lack the ability to do so. While your pet may be alarmed by the insect’s size and loud buzzing sound, cicadas do not pose a threat of harming your pet by biting or stinging. 

What are Zombie Cicadas, and Can They Infect My Pet?

The term “zombie cicadas” refers to insects infected by a zombie-like fungus. While it makes for a good news story, this fungus is only a threat to the cicadas themselves. 

What Happens if My Pet Eats a Cicada?

There is the potential for digestive issues when a pet, especially a dog, decides to snack on these crunchy insects. Cicadas have a hard exoskeleton that can be tough for some pets to digest.

While a single cicada is not likely to cause significant problems, ingesting large quantities could lead to one or more of the issues listed below:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Intestinal blockage—In extreme cases, especially with smaller pets, eating many cicadas could create a blockage in the intestines, requiring veterinary attention.
  • Choking hazard - like any foreign object, there is the possibility that a pet could choke on a cicada.

If your pet has eaten one or more cicadas, it’s best to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance.

Should My Pet Be Seen by a Veterinarian?

Should My Pet Be Seen by a Veterinarian?
1. Have you noticed changes in your pet’s appetite?
2. Does your pet have diarrhea or loose stools?
3. Have you noticed changes in your pet’s thirst/water consumption?
4. Is your pet having accidents in the house?
5. Is your pet pacing and unable to settle?
6. Is your pet panting more than usual?
7. Is your pet whining or vocalizing more than usual?
8. Is your pet shaking more than usual?
9. Is your pet hiding or avoiding physical contact more than usual?
10. Is your pet more lethargic and sleeping more than usual?
11. Are you concerned about changes in your pet’s behavior?
12. Is your pet scratching their ears?
13. Is your pet licking their paws more than usual?
14. Does your pet have a rash?
15. Is your pet moving more slowly than usual or having a harder time getting up or down?

Should My Pet Be Seen by a Veterinarian?

1. Have you noticed changes in your pet’s appetite?
2. Does your pet have diarrhea or loose stools?
3. Have you noticed changes in your pet’s thirst/water consumption?
4. Is your pet having accidents in the house?
5. Is your pet pacing and unable to settle?
6. Is your pet panting more than usual?
7. Is your pet whining or vocalizing more than usual?
8. Is your pet shaking more than usual?
9. Is your pet hiding or avoiding physical contact more than usual?
10. Is your pet more lethargic and sleeping more than usual?
11. Are you concerned about changes in your pet’s behavior?
12. Is your pet scratching their ears?
13. Is your pet licking their paws more than usual?
14. Does your pet have a rash?
15. Is your pet moving more slowly than usual or having a harder time getting up or down?

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Keeping Your Pets Safe During Cicada Season

Here are some practical tips to ensure your pet's safety during cicada season:

  • Supervise Outdoor Time: Keep a close eye on your pets when they're outside, particularly during peak cicada activity periods.
  • Distraction: To discourage your pet from snacking on cicadas, provide your pet with engaging distractions like toys or chew treats.
  • Maintain a Clean Yard: Rake up fallen cicadas regularly to minimize the temptation for your pet to eat them.
  • Beware of Pesticides: If you use pesticides in your yard, choose pet-safe options and monitor your pet's access to treated areas during cicada season.
  • Consult Your Vet: Always seek veterinary attention If your pet shows signs of vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing after encountering cicadas.

Could My Pet Be Allergic to Cicadas?

While uncommon, some pets might experience an allergic reaction after ingesting cicadas. Signs of allergies can include:

  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Itching

If you suspect your pet has an allergic reaction to cicadas, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Pets and Cicada Season: Last Words

It is unlikely that the 2024 cicadas will harm your pet. Understanding the potential risks and taking appropriate precautions can ensure your pet's safety.

Discuss any concerns with your veterinarian, and always seek veterinary attention if your pet is showing concerning behaviors or symptoms.

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More Frequently Asked Questions

Are cicadas safe for pets?

Generally speaking, cicadas are safe for pets to be around, given that they do not eat too many or choke on them. 

Is it OK for me or my pet to touch a cicada?

Since cicadas cannot bite, it’s ok if you or your pet come into contact with a cicada. 

Will cicada killers sting pets?

Cicada killer wasps are a different species entirely from 13-year and 17-year cicadas, which do not sting.

Are cicadas harmful to cats?

As mentioned above, if your cat does not have an allergy to cicadas (which is rare), the biggest health risks to your cat would be stomach upset or the risk of choking if ingested. 

Can cats eat cicadas?

While cicadas aren’t poisonous, eating them isn’t recommended for cats, as they may present a choking hazard. 

Cicadas and dogs: does the buzzing sound scare them?

The buzzing of a cicada can be quite loud, but in my experience, the sound does not typically trigger a dog’s anxiety levels like fireworks or thunderstorms would.