A Brood X cicada perched on a tree stump.

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:

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:

Enjoy Brood X’s company over the next few weeks, but don’t get too attached. They won’t be back until 2038!