Cicadas and Pets: What Bugs Them


The good news is that cicadas don’t sting or bite and they’re not toxic to humans or pets. The bad news is that some peets are obsessed. It’s a problem every year but some places are witnessing the emergence of two cicada broods simultaneously, XIX and XIII. (I’ll be talking about this today, around 4:30 p.m. CT on WGN-TV Ch. 9, Chicago)

Rich in protein, cats, who are obligate carnivores can handle the red-eyed bugs. And unlike some dogs, cats generally tend to be more discerning, knowing when enough of the delicacy is enough. Some dogs – who might as well be named Hoover for all the cicadas they inhale, searching for more each time they’re let out into the yard. Walk those dogs on leash, for now, on sidewalks and away from the bugs. Have them focus on treats for dogs you’re holding instead. The cicadas are only around a few more weeks. And by July 4 will be gone – when then we worry about fireworks and pets

One problem is that dog GI systems aren’t set up for all that protein. Some dogs can tolerate the protein explosion, other dogs suffer an explosion of poop as a result or a generally upset tummy. For other dogs an inflamed pancreas, called pancreatitis which can result in hospitalization.

Many pet lizard species would enjoy a cicada snack. Still too much of a good thing can cause problems.

And for any animal eating anything with pesticides, can be an issue – particularly if many are eaten.

The tough cicada exoskeletons don’t always go down easy, and may potentially cause an obstruction in a cat, dog or lizard – and if that happens, surgery can be required.

Their Eas Can Hurt

Also, cicadas are the world’s loudest insects. On both sides of their thoraxes males cicadas have thin, ridged areas of their exoskeletons called tymbals. Tymbals are made of a rubbery substance called resilin. The cicadas vibrate their tymbals very fast using muscles in their bodies. With every vibration, a sound wave is released, and cicadas can send out 300-400 sound waves per second. Females also make sounds to attract males, but they use their wings to make a clicking sound, which isn’t quite as loud. Different cicada species make slightly different sounds. In places, there will be two types of cicadas making twice as much of the noise and dozens – if not more – individuals. According to the Centers for Disease Control the noise level could reach near 90 to well over 100 decibels, depending on several factors, mostly how many cicadas there are in one place and how close you may be to them. It’s like attending a rock concert.

Prolonged exposure to sounds that loud could prompt hearing loss. We just go into the house and close windows but some people have outdoor only dogs with nowhere to go. And prolonged exposure can cause hearing loss, particularly since their hearing is so sensitive.

The Dig Cicadas

Also, as cicadas are about to emerge dogs can hear them just below the ground, and may dig them up – leaving their tummies full and holes in the yard.