A bug buffet will be tempting our pets when billons of Brood X cicadas emergesoon. But are the red-eyed bugs dangerous for Fido?
WASHINGTON — I don’t know about your pets, but I call my girls “goats.”Peaches and Cherry, who are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, eat sticks,flowers and of course grass.
So I have to ask myself, what’s going to happen when the Brood X cicadasemerge and pets have billions of choices for a cicada buffet? Well, we askedan expert, Dr. Amy Fauth who works at the Falls Road Veterinary Hospital inPotomac, Maryland.
Are cicadas dangerous to pets?
‘No, but there’s a caveat there,” she said. “Okay, not toxic. These are notstinging or biting insects. They’re huge and ugly and that’s about it. But fordogs and cats, they’re fun to chase after and eat. The only thing that I’d beworried about is that these little guys are going to eat so many that thosetough exoskeletons, that crispiness will cause inflammation in the GI tractand cause vomiting, or maybe diarrhea.”
How to prevent pets from eating too many cicadas?
My next question for Fauth, was short of shop-vacing my entire backyard howcould I limit my pets’ access to the cicadas?
“There’s a leash law, so, in theory, they’re only going to be as far as theleash stick can extend,” Fauth said.
When to bring a pet to the vet over cicada eating?
While it’s good to hear that a few cicadas shouldn’t cause irreparable harm toour four-legged family members, I did ask Fauth what signs pet owners shouldbe on the lookout for that would necessitate a vet visit.
‘Vomiting is a more serious sign in a dog or a cat, and that should be seen bya veterinarian,” Fauth said. “We have some medications and treatment that willtreat the symptoms and, he or she will get through it, and it won’t be a bigdeal. Diarrhea is another thing that you might see with a lot of cicadaingestion — it’s maybe a little bit easier to treat, though. Vomiting is aserious sign and should be seen by a vet.”
Imagine pieces of chocolate springing up from the ground. I dare say somehumans would gorge themselves — I know I would. I asked Fauth who she thinkswill be likely to eat more of them — dogs or cats?
“I think cats have a better head on their shoulder, right?” she said. “I thinkmany dogs if you left food out all the time they’ll just eat it constantly.”
What other animals eat cicadas?
Birds, snakes, squirrels and even other insects eat cicadas for protein.
“Did you know that zoos around the country when they have cicada populationssparking up will use cicadas as enrichment for the zoo animals?” Fauth added.“They release them into cages. They’re brand new, exciting and like toys.”
Smithsonian entomologist Dr. Floyd Shockley explains the sheer number ofcicadas is the key to their survival.
‘No matter how many predators there are, even if they ate all day every day,they couldn’t eat enough to threaten the species,” Dr. Shockley said.
Are cicadas edible for humans?
I have eaten stink bugs in the past so I asked Dr. Shockley if humans can eatcicadas.
According to Dr. Shockley, the bugs can be used almost interchangeably withshrimp in cooking.
“I will warn you though, if you have shellfish allergies you can have anallergic reaction to cicadas,” Shockley said.
“I have a daughter who’s about to turn 18, so she was 1.5-years-old during thelast emergent,” Dr. Fauth said. “As a toddler, she loved to eat cicadas.”
Just like curious children, many pets will just want to play with the cicadas.Dr. Fauth remembered a story about her dog in the last invasion.
“She liked to get cicadas in her mouth and they would make that loud buzzingsound,” Fauth recalled. “She would just hold it in her mouth. She didn’t wantto eat it. She just wanted the buzzing sound, like a toy.”
There’s a viral claim going around the internet that the cicadas would attractcopperhead snakes to your house. But the reality is copperheads will not haveto look more than a few feet to discover an endless supply of these same bugs,so why would they make such an effort to change location when the food isright in front of them?
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