Cicadas: Any Health Threats?

cicadas, insects, diet

Cicadas may appear gross to some people, but the emerging insects are harmless to humans and even considered a delicacy for adventurous eaters. They won’t bite, sting or spread disease, and they aren’t venomous or poisonous.

“Some cultures consider cicadas a delicacy,” said Memorial Wellness Center dietitian Erin Zepp. “People who are allergic to shellfish are usually allergic to tropomyosin, a protein found in many insects. The University of Illinois Extension recommends that people who have a shellfish allergy should probably avoid eating cicadas.”

But for the rest of us? Google “cicada recipes” and experiment with cicadas as pizza toppings or crunchy appetizers. The high-protein, low-fat insects can be a conversation starter as well as a healthy addition to your seasonal diet while they are so plentiful.

What about the noise? When millions of the male insects launch into mating calls, the noise level can seem deafening and ranks right up with the levels of a lawnmower or motorcycle, according to scientists with the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Fortunately, it only lasts for a few weeks out of the summer, so hearing loss is also not a potential risk.

The cicada explosion only happens every 15 to 17 years. You should definitely be fascinated by this natural phenomenon, but there’s no reason to be concerned about health risks.