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Can Pets Eat Cicadas? How Do I Keep Them Away? Experts Answer Your Cicada Questions

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Like something out of "Night of the Living Dead," they are tiny cicada skeletons emerging from the ground, their tiny feet scratching to move them along.

There is just no escaping the creep-out factor.

"I think they're gross" and "it's disgusting" were the comments of a couple of joggers in Sewickley as their feet crunched the cicadas to the point they ran into the street to avoid the unavoidable shells on the sidewalk.

"They are all over the bricks, up and down and around the doorway," Stephanie Smoker said as she pointed them out on her Bell Acres home.

From the house to virtually every shrub and tree in her yard, the Brood VIII cicadas have taken up temporary residence.

"It's pretty amazing. It's interesting. It's just a nuisance," Smoker said.

Since they can do a little foliage damage on the ends of the tree limbs, Anne Semes-Lynch asked on the KDKA Facebook page. "Is there a chemical you can spray so they don't get on your porch, car or house?"

Chad Gore, Ph.D., is an entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control.

"You can use insecticides, but we typically don't recommend that," Gore said.

He says cicadas aren't around that long, and insecticides are good for where you use them, but cicadas fly. So you treat on area, and they fly in from your neighbors' yards.


John Brozda and his painting crew have been being bombarded by the little flying mate-seekers. They are repeatedly landing on the fence they are trying to paint and on Brozda's crew.

"We just brush 'em off and move on. No, we throw them towards the chickens so the chickens eat 'em," Brozda said.

The chickens snap them up to the point they aren't eating their normal feed. Birds in general are having a feast, so are dogs and cats, prompting Gale Johnson to say on the KDKA Facebook page, "Don't let your dogs and cats eat them either. Cicadas are full of roundworms and their eggs."

"No, that's not true," said veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson, of Animal General in Cranberry. "The good news about cicadas is because they're underground for so long developing, they don't have any diseases to speak of."

That said Dr. Mike is concerned about the cicada shells piling up in the pet's stomach or intestines.

"It's a tough exoskeleton, if you will. It's crunchy, but that sits in their stomach and if they get too many, they can get digestive upset," he said.

Scott Wattenbaugh was collecting cicadas and putting them in a bag, hoping the trout in Ten Mile Creek will enjoy their lively dance on top of the water.

"They don't suspect them being fake. They see it twitching on the surface and they just take it," he said.

Fish aren't the only ones attracted to cicadas.

Dr. Gore says they are high in protein and people eat them too.

"They are full of fat, especially the females. They are put into lots of dishes around the world," he said.

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