Image: Cicada
James Appleby - University Of Il  /  AP file
Cicadas are protein-rich, but their hard outer shells can cause vomiting and constipation in dogs and cats, officials warn.
updated 8/4/2004 7:40:08 PM ET 2004-08-04T23:40:08

When millions of cicadas emerge across the eastern United States for a rare mating season, they will appear as tasty morsels to pets who could get sick from eating the insects, officials warned.

The insects are protein-rich but their hard outer shells can cause vomiting and constipation in cats and dogs, said Randall Lockwood, vice president for the Humane Society of the United States.

“Imagine a yard full of chicken nuggets, that’s sort of what it’s going to be like” for dogs and cats, Lockwood said Tuesday.

Millions of the large, red-eyed insects will soon emerge from the ground for a once-every-17-years mating dance lasting well into June.

Experts say the insects will climb into trees and shed their shells to reveal their wings. Males will attract mates through a loud buzzing sound.

The approximately 1½-inch-long bugs “combine all the stuff that particularly dogs like to chase,” Lockwood said. “They’re kind of flying pet toys: They are loud, slow-moving, often low-flying.”

The Washington-based Humane Society advises keeping pets indoors, securing screens and holding tight to dog leashes outdoors.

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