Cats and Brood X Cicadas
This summer, the skies and forests of many US states will welcome back Brood X (also known as the Great Eastern Brood), a group of cicadas who’ve lain dormant underground for 17 years. While amateur entomologists may enjoy the rare opportunity to observe Brood X, some pet owners wonder if these bugs could pose a threat to their dogs and cats.
Welcome Back, Brood X
There are more than 3,000 different species of cicadas and most wake up from their slumber every few years to mate and make a racket — Brood X’s buzzing can reach volumes around 100 decibels. These particular cicadas spend a longer time underground than most others, emerging in the trillions every 17 years. Residents of Washington, D.C. and the following states may see or hear from Brood X cicadas once they’ve made their way to the surface world:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
There’s even a mobile application to help you track Brood X and learn more about the cicada population in your region. Some areas are already abuzz with cicadas and they’re expected to stick around through the end of June.
Will Cicadas Hurt Pets?
A cicada’s bright red eyes and loud buzzing may startle pets and pet owners alike, but these creatures are perfectly harmless. Cicadas feed on plant matter, so they’re not interested in sneaking a bite of your pet or drinking their blood.
What If My Cat Eats a Cicada?
Since cicadas are preoccupied with mating, they’re often vulnerable to the attacks of hungry, curious pets. While cicadas aren’t an essential part of a balanced feline diet, some cats may feel tempted to indulge. Snacking on a few cicada carcasses is generally not cause for concern. The American Kennel Club advises pet owners, however, that regular consumption could present an issue. They’re concerned about the bugs’ hard exoskeletons and stiff wings. These may present a choking risk or lead to obstructions in a cat’s digestive tract. It’s also possible that swallowing a cicada can cause an allergic reaction or lead to poisoning by exposing pets to dangerous quantities of pesticides.
Safely Handling Pets During Cicada Season
Encounters with members of Brood X probably won’t mean trouble for you or your cat, but concerned pet parents may opt to exercise a little extra caution during cicada season:
- Avoid areas with heavy concentrations of cicadas: Cicadas tend to congregate and mate in wooded areas like parks and backyards. It may be safest to keep outdoor cats on a shorter leash than usual while Brood X is active.
- Keep an eye out for predators: An abundance of cicadas could mean higher than average numbers of hungry critters like snakes and rats. While cicadas aren’t dangerous to pets, many of these animals can present the risk of injury, infection, and even death. It’s the perfect reason to check with your vet to ensure your cat’s vaccinations against rabies and other diseases are up to date.
- Watch for warning signs: Cats sometimes reveal health concerns in subtle, almost imperceptible ways. Watch out for any unexplained behavioral changes or potential signs of trouble like vomiting, diarrhea, or a loss of appetite.
Enjoy Brood X’s company over the next few weeks, but don’t get too attached. They won’t be back until 2038!