May 13, 2004
Cicadas Pose Little Concern for Animals and Their Owners
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 12, 2004) –
Brood X of the periodical cicada is emerging in Kentucky. As encounters with
the public become more frequent during the next few weeks, a common question
will arise: “Will this noisy insect cause harm to people or animals?”
According to insect specialists with
the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service the answer is “no.”
“Myth and rumor to the contrary,
cicadas are not poisonous and do not sting or bite,” said Lee Townsend,
UK Extension entomologist. “Consequently, they pose no direct threat to
the health and well-being of livestock or humans.”
Townsend said dogs and cats may be
curious about cicadas as they fly slowly around and blunder into objects.
“Some pets may play with the
insects and could possibly eat some of them but, as with most food, overindulgence
would be the main but unlikely downside,” Townsend said.
Some people and animals may be disturbed
by the buzzing flight of cicadas, especially if they live near wooded areas
where the insect is abundant. If livestock are located near heavily-infested
woods it may be necessary to relocate them temporarily.
The singing noise of the periodical
is likely to be very loud where large populations have emerged.
“For the vast majority of people
other than fear and irritation, they are nothing
more than a curiosity,” said Doug Johnson, UK Extension entomologist.
Johnson said one of the myths associated
with cicadas is that they are locusts, but locusts are very different. Another
myth is that whatever fruit the cicada feeds on is poison, but that is false.
“There are a lot of stories
about them because they are so rare, they come out so quickly and then they
With the exception of a few small
pockets west of the Mississippi River, periodical cicadas are found nowhere
else in the world except in the eastern United States.
Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist
Department of Entomology
Room S-225 Ag Science- North
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40546-0091
(859) 257-7455 FAX (859) 323-1120
Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist
Research and Education Center
148 1205 Hopkinsville St.
University of Kentucky
Princeton, KY 42445
(270) 365-7541 x214 FAX (270) 365-2667
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