Cicadas in Indiana: what you need to know for your pets and trees. Plus two restaurants serving them up on the menu

Kelly E.

Dogs, cicada diets, and protecting your trees
The cicadas have arrived in IndianaWikimedia commons

The cicadas have emerged on mass in Indiana. You've probably noticed them crawling up trees, most of them still in their final nymphal stage. Here's what you need to know.

They "came out in a big way" Thursday night in Bloomington, a former Indiana University professor who studies cicadas told IndyStar

When the cicadas first emerge they are still in an immature form. You'll be able to spot them by their brown color and the fact that they have no wings at this stage. The main job of these newly emerged insects is to climb the nearest vertical object, usually the tree it emerged under.
Cicada nymphs are starting to be seen around IndianaWikimedia commons

Nymphs often emerge at night and shed their final skin in the dark, but if you watch carefully you may be lucky enough to catch one molting. Indiana residents will be finding empty exoskeletons on the trees and ground for a few weeks!

You can sweep them up and place them in the compost if you like, or just leave them as food for the birds.

The adult cicadas are initially pale in color and grub-like. Over a few hours they will inflate their wings and form their adult exoskeleton.
Indiana residents will see newly shed exoskeletons attached to trees and vertical surfacesWikimedia commons

Some people like to collect them off the trees and eat them at the newly emerged adult stage.

Feeling adventurous enough to eat them?

If you're feeling adventurous too, this is the best time to grab your cicada meal. If you collect older adults, once their exoskeleton and wings are fully formed, they'll be much more crunchy and tough.

Jessica Fanzo, the director of Johns Hopkins’ Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, told Forbes, "the nutritional composition is probably similar to other insects which are low in calories but high in protein and iron."

But do they taste okay? Fanzo thinks so.

“They're good, they're really good,” she said.

Just make sure you give them a good wash or boil before you roast or fry them up as they have been living underground for 17 years!

If you'd rather someone else did the work, try one of these Indiana restaurants with cicada on the menu in June:

Le Petit Cafe, Bloomington, Indiana

"While I was dipping my cicadas in chocolate I had a terrific idea: In 2 weeks it's Fathers' Day, right? Don't you think Dad has enough wallets, Hawaiian shirts, books to read, fishing rods,, etc? This is what I suggest: Come to the Window this Saturday, buy a piece of cicada cake and stick it in your freezer for a week."--Le Petit Cafe

Pili's Party Taco Truck, Bloomington, Indiana is doing occassional "cicada surprise" days. Keep an eye on their Instagram!

What about your pets snacking on cicadas?

If your pup has taken a liking to the taste of cicada, one or two won't hurt them. But if they're overeating and getting stomach problems you might want to put a stop to it.

"The thing about cicadas is that they’re not toxic … they don’t bite and they don’t sting. So in and of themselves, they’re not dangerous," said Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club told Indystar. "But like anything else, it's if they do it in excess."

Sweep up the shells if you have pets and keep an eye on them.

Severe reactions are rare and mostly eating cicadas is harmless, but if your dog or cat gets very lethargic, vomits or has diarrhea, and seems off their food, take them to the vet as they may need treatment to recover fluids they've lost and get their digestive systems back on track.

Hardly any Indiana vets offices have seen pets sick from eating cicadas so far, but some confirmed with IndyStar that they have seen a few.
Indiana dog owners may want to keep an eye on their cicada snacking habitsWikimedia commons

Protecting trees

Cicadas don't eat vegetation like locusts do. They are actually quite good for our environment overall but they do lay their eggs on the leaves of trees and this can damage small, newly planted trees.

If you've recently planted you can protect your trees by covering them in tightly woven netting. Be sure to completely seal up the seams and wrap the bottom to stop cicadas crawling up the trunks.

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