Are Those Deafening Cicadas Harmful to Humans?

While summer insects are common in Illinois, not every year do we see and hear cicadas, sometimes incorrectly called 17-year “locusts.” (Locusts are actually a different species.)

According to the University of Illinois Extension, the Great Eastern Brood X emerges in our service area in late May to early June 2021. While an emergence of cicadas can be overwhelming, they are not harmful to humans.

“Cicadas lay their eggs in tree branches so this is where we may expect to find them the most. Cicadas don’t bite or sting, but they can be distracting. Make sure you pay attention to the road or walking path rather than flying insects,” said Erin Kirkpatrick, PA-C, with Memorial ExpressCare. “For the most part—it is other summer critters like ticks or mosquitoes, not cicadas, that you need to avoid.”

Cicadas will be gone within a couple of months after emergence, but other pests stick around for the whole summer. If you are at a ball game, swimming, hiking, camping or at a backyard barbecue, protect yourself against mosquitoes and ticks, which can be a nuisance and can impact your health.

Here are some tips to help you avoid insect bites this summer:

  • Use repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency has a search tool to help you find the insect repellent that’s best for you. Always follow product recommendations for age and application. Remember sun safety—always apply sunscreen before insect repellent.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Wearing hats, long sleeves and long pants in wooded areas can help to prevent tick bites. If spending a lot of time in these areas, consider clothing treated with a recommended insect repellent like permethrin.
  • Keep insects outdoors. Use window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from moving inside your home, tent or camper.

Get Help

If you are bit by a tick, or have a mosquito or insect bite that you’re concerned about, speak with your doctor or visit your nearest urgent care.

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