What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Carpenter Ants Devour Emerging Cicada
July 29, 2009
Dear Bug Man:
Thought you might be able to use one of these photos in your “food chain’ category. My son called me over to an old oak tree, to see a group of carpenter ants eating what he thought was a large caterpillar. When I got there, I could see it was an emerging cicada. I don’t know if the cicada died as a result of not being able to emerge fully from it’s nymphal skin, and the ants were just scavenging the carcass. Or, if the ants started attacking it shortly after it crawled up the tree. No idea what type of cicade this one is, but parts of it were a lovely turquoise green. This was the only cicada on the whole tree–no other shells or nymphs were around. Was this cicada’s biological clock working OK?
Chris O.
Wildwood Park, near Toledo, OH

Carpenter Ants devour emergent Cicada

Carpenter Ants devour emergent Cicada

Hi Chris,
Thanks so much for sending us your wonderful food chain documentation of Carpenter Ants devouring an Annual Cicada that was in the process of metamorphosis.  We suspect the Carpenter Ants attacked the Cicada while it was helpless and unable to escape.  The Cicada’s biological clock was right on time, as they emerge during the summer.  This is an Annual Cicada, and unlike the Periodical Cicadas that emerge every 14 or 17 years, the Annual Cicadas emerge each year.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

One Response to Carpenter Ants devour newly emerged Annual Cicada

  1. TmbrWlvsTchr says:

    While out on my 2nd floor deck, my cats alerted me to some fluttering down below in the garden. I could see leaves moving, but not the cause. After scanning the area with a pair of binoculars, I saw a cicada flitting its wings wildly and flopping like a fish out of water. It was still quite alive as a hoard of ants attacked. This was unsettling to watch, but I resisted the urge to change Mother Nature’s course and didn’t “rescue” the cicada. Thanks for posting your picture and commentary so that I could hop online and confirm what I had witnessed.

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