Cicadas might seem like a tasty snack, and they’re packed with protein, but people with seafood allergies should think twice about eating them, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA tweeted yesterday, “Yep! We have to say it! Don’t eat #cicadas if you’re allergic to seafood as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters.”
As we , trillions of Brood X cicadas emerged for the first time in 17 years in 15 states and you can harvest and eat these critters. These cicadas spend most of their lives underground and come out for at least 3-4 weeks for a massive mating season. Many people have turned to eating them when looking for alternative ways to consume protein while reducing their carbon footprint — insects emit fewer greenhouse gasses and can boast more protein than meat.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cicadas aren’t harmful to humans, pets or gardens. If cats or dogs eat them, though, “this may temporarily cause an upset stomach or vomiting, but there is no need to worry if a pet eats a small number of cicadas.”
Cicadas are not dangerous and can provide some environmental benefits including a valuable food source for birds and other predators, aerate lawns and improve water filtration into the ground and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
“Cicadas don’t sting or bite. Cicadas are not toxic,” the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine said in a tweet last week. But their “crunchy/crispy exoskeleton can irritate the stomach lining if eaten in large volumes and can be a potential choking hazard, especially for small dogs.”
Cicadas don’t sting or bite. Cicadas are not toxic. Cicadas’ crunchy/crispy exoskeleton can irritate the stomach lining if eaten in large volumes and can be a potential choking hazard, especially for small dogs.#BroodX #cicadas pic.twitter.com/bCdB3MzUFm— FDA CVM (@FDAanimalhealth) May 25, 2021
Twitter users had some mixed reactions to the FDA’s warning:
@banditelli wrote, “Can’t believe you posted such a delicious bug and told me not to eat it! SAD!”
Can't believe you posted such a delicious bug and told me not to eat it! SAD!— Brett "Unions 2021" Banditelli (@banditelli) June 2, 2021
One user offered to correct the FDA’s tweet, insisting “Don’t eat #cicadas.” It didn’t take long for an interested cicada-taster to reply, “I’ve hear they’re good and if I see one I’m gonna fry it.”
I've heard they're good and if I see one I'm gonna fry it— springtime 4 skunk ape (@MaxMcAdams) June 2, 2021
@deangloster had the best pun:
In fairness, @US_FDA, you had me at "Don't eat cicadas."— Dean Gloster (@deangloster) June 3, 2021
I mean, I'm all about eating local food, but that just bugs me...
Our great hero Charles Darwin would not interfere with humans who choose to do so eating cicadas. He might not even bother watching.— Rick Mullin (@rick_mullin3) June 2, 2021
At least now I can fake a seafood allergy to avoid the cicada buffets at all the summer BBQs I'm invited to attend.— 🐻 Mike (@BuffaloBearGuy) June 2, 2021
They're like if shrimp could scream and fly 😋— Laird of Lochaber (@JoshIsBB) June 2, 2021
And all this time I've been paying $30/lb for lobster when I could have collected a bag of cicadas for free?!— Atlee Solomon (@SolomonAtlee) June 2, 2021
All this is telling me cicadas taste like shrimp... pic.twitter.com/WyYVBXIsVu— Dungeon Family (@SincereSole) June 2, 2021
They should have stopped this statement before “if”.— Mad Scientist (@Angry_PhD) June 2, 2021
If you aren’t allergic to seafood, and would like to try an adventurous protein-packed meal, check out our Brood X Cicada recipes story!