Can Dogs Eat Cicadas Threats, Prevention Tips, and Guide

Can Dogs Eat Cicadas? Threats Prevention Tips and Guide

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

The good news is that cicadas are not poisonous or toxic for dogs. As a result, dogs can eat cicadas, but they should consume them at a minimal level. Consuming one or two cicadas is not a problem.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Can Dogs Eat Cicadas? Threats Prevention Tips and Guide“.

In 2017 the cicada season began after 17 years of hibernation. Now you see your dog digging in the ground devouring a vast buffet of these red-eyed bugs. Can dogs eat cicadas?

Can Dogs Eat Cicadas Threats, Prevention Tips, and Guide

How should you proceed?

There is no sting or bite to them. So is it okay to feed your dog cicadas?

This article will address the following questions:

  • What is a cicada and is it dangerous for dogs?
  • What should you do if your dog eats cicada?
  • And how can you stop your dog from eating cicadas?

This article will be helpful if you’re worried about cicada eating and its effect on your dogs. 

Therefore lets delve into the mystery of cicadas and learn more about them.

What is Cicada?

Insects that produce sound cicadas have two pairs of membranous wings and large compound eyes. 

Over 3000 species of cicada exist divided into two groups – annuals which emerge every spring and periodicals which emerge after 13-17 years of dormancy. 

Contrary to locusts they do not decimate crops they do not bite and they do not sting at all. 

A swarm of cicada can spread over an acre at a rate of 1.5 million according to entomologists. Swarms of cicada can reach 96 decibels loud enough to drown out the sound of a motorcycle. 

Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?

Humans can consume cicada and the largest of 12 broods with a 17-year lifespan is said to taste like shrimps. However what is the fate of our four-legged friend?

Dogs are unable to discern tastes and as a result they might mistake a gazillion cicadas for an unlimited bug buffet. 

The good news is that cicadas are not poisonous or toxic for dogs. As a result dogs can eat cicadas but they should consume them at a minimal level. Consuming one or two cicadas is not a problem. 

In addition to squirrels and birds they are eaten by other animals as well. 

You should watch out for your dog ingesting too much however because if he consumes many bugs outside of his usual diet it can wreak havoc on his stomach. 

Effects of overindulging when dogs eat cicadas: 

Your dog might be in danger if he eats too much cicada including: 

Gastrointestinal inflammation

It is tempting to eat the crunchy shell of cicadas. Overeating bugs such as these may irritate the stomach lining leading to stomach aches and inflammation.


A dog may also vomit and become lethargic when suffering from an upset stomach and inflammation. Cicadas in their vomit can be disgusting and make you feel sick as well. 


Dietary indiscretion or diarrhea can also be a result of intestinal irritation. 

Allergic reaction

The biological makeup of insects like cicadas and crustaceans like shrimp is very similar. As a result these bugs can cause allergic reactions in dogs with shellfish allergies such as anaphylactic shock. 

As the name suggests it is a severe allergic reaction that occurs within a few seconds or minutes after being exposed to antigens – the substances that cause the allergy. 

How to Prevent The Urge For Dogs Eat Cicadas?

You should keep your dog away from cicadas to avoid health problems that may arise from eating this type of bug. 

The following tips can help prevent your dog from ingesting this type of bug:

Distract your pets when they’re outside

The cicada can be found anywhere from trees to the ground when they emerge. 

Dogs can easily catch and gobble them since they fly slowly and stay low to the ground. 

Therefore you should try to distract your dog when you’re walking outdoors by giving it treats or keeping it away from cicadas. 

You can play fetch with your dog to distract it or give it a command if it is snooping around during this season. 

Supervise when outdoors

Its important to watch out for your dog if you let it out in the yard especially if you have just sprayed your yard with pesticides. 

Cicadas may contain pesticides once they emerge which is extremely dangerous for dogs and can make them very sick. 

Keep your pet indoors

Keeping your pet indoors as much as possible during cicada season is the best way to protect it. 

To make your dogs indoor time more enjoyable you need to give them some toys and spend a lot of time with them. 

Since we have been spending most of our time in our homes for more than a year already four to six weeks of staying indoors are no big deal during this time of the pandemic. 

Therefore it can certainly be done. 

Dogs Eat Cicadas: Training Your Dogs With “Take It” and “Leave It” Commands

You should teach your dog that not everything thats on the ground should be grabbed in order to prevent your pup from eating cicadas.  

But how do you teach your dog to ignore dropped objects including insects like cicadas? 

The best way to train your dog is to teach him the “leave it” command. Its goal is to develop automatic behaviors of not picking up items from the ground or ignoring them without prompting. 

It is best to begin with the “take it” cue if you want to develop self-control.

How to teach the “Take It” command

Your dog can be taught the “take it” command through free-choice exercises. Using this command will help your dog recognize when its time to eat. 

Its necessary especially for grabbers who snatch food or treats out of your hand. Exercises like this can help them determine if something is okay to eat or not.

You will only need some high-value treats and a clicker if you have one for this exercise. This should be done in a quiet place with limited distractions. 

The following tips will help you:

Step 1. Introduce the treat in a closed fist

Take a treat and put it in your fist. Allow your dog to try and lick paw or sniff it until it gets it out of your hand. 

Step 2. Say the cue

Mark this moment with a clicker and say “yes” or a praise word when your dog leaves your fist alone. As you offer the treat open your fist and give the cue “take it”.  

Step 3. Repeat the exercise

You should do this several times until your dog learns to ignore the treat. You should wait a few seconds before cuing “take it” and offering the food.

Step 4. Test in an open palm

Put the treat in your open palm this time. When your dog tries to get the treat close your fist and wait for your pup to ignore it. Then say “take it” and give it the food. 

You can teach your dog that ignoring the treat is the way to get it by following these steps.

Teaching the “leave it” command

The fact that your pet ignores the treat in your open palm until the “take it” cue is given shows that your pet understands to leave things alone until permission is given. 

As a next step take the matter to the floor where insects like cicadas nestle and introduce the “leave it” cue. 

Step 1. Teaching dogs to sought for better rewards

Cover the treat with your hands after you put it on the floor. Let the dog try to get the food just as it did with the “take it” command. Once the dog behaves and ignores mark the moment with your clicker and give it the reward. 

However do not use the treat on the floor. Reward your dog with something from another hand or pocket that is more valuable. 

You must let your dog know that this time it isnot about getting something eventually. It will instead emphasize that leaving certain things alone has a high chance of being rewarded. 

Step 2. Helping it learn when to leave it

If your dog is voluntarily leaving the covered treat alone then remove your hand. At all costs you must keep your pet away from the treats. 

So be prepared to cover it if your sneaky fido reaches out for it. 

In order for your dog to learn to ignore the uncovered food on the floor watch for signs of disinterest including leaning back or looking away. 

If it does mark it and reward it with a higher value treat from another hand. 

Step 3. Repeating the exercise while on a leash

Do the same exercise while standing up but this time with your dog on a leash. This time pick up the dropped treat with your foot.

A leash is primarily used to prevent your dog from getting food if you accidentally kick it away or miss it.

Step 4. Adding the “leave it” cue

It means that you have taught your dog impulse control if he/she now ignores the food you drop on the ground. 

Therefore when you drop food the “leave it” cue will be added. If your dog ignores the food on the floor reward it with an extra special treat.  

After a few repetitions your pup should be able to understand the meaning behind “leave it.” This isnot the end of the process. Now its time to put it into practice. 

Applying the “leave it” command in the real world

The hazards are everywhere from cicadas in your yard to spoiled sandwiches and garbage on the ground. 

As a result you need to train your dog to ignore anything that should be ignored. 

Step 1. Place some low-value treats along the ground five feet apart in a row. Then tell your dog to “leave it” and walk away from the food. 

Your pup should be rewarded every time it passes a food one step at a time. 

Make sure your foot covers the food if you see your cat trying to get the treat. 

Step 2. You can reward your pet with a special chew bone or a game of tug after he successfully walks past a row of treats.

Perform the same exercise in different places such as your yard or sidewalk. You will teach your dog to respond wherever you are if you expose it to different places while executing the “leave it” command.

You can also replace the food with other items like chew toys or tennis balls and repeat the cue. The dog will be able to generalize the signals from treats to objects you do not want them to grab. 

What to Do If Dogs Eat Cicadas?

Here are some tips on responding to situations when your sneaky dog still tries to get a handful of cicadas despite your best efforts. 

Limit your fido’s cicada intake

In case your dog still wants to eat cicada limit its intake and do not let it gobble them up.

One or two at a time isnot too bad for them but as it munches on a cicada try to drive away others. If it tastes awful to your pet it will no longer eat and may even spit it out. 

Watch out for signs of Gastrointestinal issues

If your dog vomits and suffers from diarrhea after eating cicada it could be a sign of gastrointestinal illness. 

The good news is that its temporary and can be treated with medication.  

Furthermore some pets may develop intestinal blockages from eating too many cicadas. Despite being rare cases like this can result in frequent vomiting and require intensive veterinary treatment. 

Look out for any allergic reaction

Only a few pets have suffered an allergic reaction after eating cicada but you should watch out for signs of anaphylactic shock in order to ensure your pets safety. 

Some of the symptoms are:

  • pale gums
  • cold limbs
  • trouble in breathing
  • drooling excessively

When to Bring Your Dog to the Vet Over Cicada Eating?

When you notice your pup frequently vomiting or showing signs of an allergic reaction due to overfeeding with the cicada then you should not take matters into your own hands. Talk to your veterinarian and have your pet checked out. 

The symptoms will require some medications and treatment but your dog will usually be okay. 

Where Do Cicadas Nestle?

There are cicada species from all over the world but the periodical breeds are found only in North America especially in the eastern and central regions. 

Their primary diet consists of tree roots twigs and branches allowing them to live underground for 13-17 years. 

In 17 years of burying themselves a foot or two under the ground they usually emerge when the soil temperature reaches 65°F (18°C) and shed their shells. 

Cicada males will sing high-pitched songs to seek a mate and females will lay fertilized eggs on tree branches before they die. 

Once the eggs hatch the nymphs fall into the ground and burrow underground to restart the almost 2-decade-long cycle.  

Each cicada brood is composed of 15 different insects that emerge simultaneously. 

Brood X started being released a few days ago and it is the most anticipated one for 2021. 

This is also their mating season and they can be found from Washington DC to 15 other states including: 

  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • New York
  • Western Illinois
  • Southern Michigan
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

If you live in one of these states be sure to watch over your dogs to prevent them from overindulging in this tempting buffet. 

How Long Does Cicada Live on the Ground?

Cicadas spend the majority of their lives under the ground and they can only live in the outside world for a few weeks. 

They will spend their short and sweet time in the outside world primarily on mating and then they will be gone by the end of June. 

The ground will then be free from cicadas again even though constantly monitoring your pets for overeating can be exhausting. 

Other Buzzing Insects That May Harm Your Dog

In addition to cicadas other buzzing insects pose a threat to your dog such as:


Dogs love exploring by touching bees with their paws and biting them but they sting if they are cornered. Your dog will experience painful swelling as a result. It is also possible for pets to suffer an allergic reaction to bee stings causing inflammation itchiness and other symptoms.


They can sting your dog with their long stinger if they are aggressive and territorial. The stings of wasps can be deadly and those allergic to them may suffer a severe reaction that requires immediate medical treatment.  


A single sting from a giant hornet can also be life-threatening because of its venom. 

Our Takeaway When Dogs Eat Cicadas 

The cicada is not harmful in and of itself but it poses a threat when it is overeaten. Because your dog tends to overindulge in this mysterious bug type it would be best to keep him away from them. 

If you teach your companion the “leave it” command and watch out when they’re outdoors during the cicada season you can ensure its safety and protect its digestive system.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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