FDA says to avoid eating cicadas 'if you're allergic to seafood'

ByArman Azad, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Cicada brood X begins to emerge in Georgia
AccuWeather meteorologist Reed Timmer reports on cicada emergence in Ivylog, Georgia.

Cicadas might seem like a crispy, protein-packed snack, but people with seafood allergies should think twice about eating them, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

"We have to say it," the FDA said in a tweet Wednesday. "Don't eat #cicadas if you're allergic to seafood as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters."

The loud, cacophonous bugs have emerged this month on the East Coast as part of "Brood X," which comes out every 17 years, according to the National Park Service. The agency says the brood is centered around Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, Indiana and eastern Tennessee.

To some, the brood's emergence is an awe-inspiring experience, worthy of glossy cicadas photoshoots and endless media profiles. To others, cicadas can be a creepy, inescapable nuisance (one recently crawled onto CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, during preparations for a live shot).

The brittle insects might be annoying, but 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," the EPA says.

"Cicadas don't sting or bite. Cicadas are not toxic," the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine said in a tweet late last month. Still, 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."

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Video via AccuWeather