Cicada: Concern over Allergies

Subject: Allergic Reaction To Insects!
Location: Arkadelphia, Arkansas
July 19, 2014 12:39 pm
My son and I found this bug on our driveway it had landed and was fluttering around on the. ground. Being that I just found out that I’m allergic to some insects and I do not know what this thing is I’m really concerned about this.
Signature: Kia Harris


Dear Kia,
This is a Cicada, and since we are not medical experts, we are uncertain how to address your allergy concerns.  According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology:  “Experts estimate that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings, and many of these individuals are at risk of suffering life-threatening reactions to insect venom.”  Since Cicadas do not sting, we would suppose that should not be an issue.  We are aware of allergies to Cockroaches, and according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology:  “Cockroaches live in all types of buildings and all kinds of neighborhoods. Some people develop allergy symptoms when they are around cockroaches. Luckily, there are ways to treat a cockroach allergy and prevent and get rid of cockroaches.”
  Since Cicadas are not even remotely related to Cockroaches, we do not think that should be a concern for you.  Many insects will bite, so we decided to research bite allergies, and according to the Mayo Clinic:  “Signs and symptoms of an insect bite result from the injection of venom or other substances into your skin. The venom causes pain and sometimes triggers an allergic reaction. The severity of the reaction depends on your sensitivity to the insect venom or substance and whether you’ve been stung or bitten more than once.  Most reactions to insect bites are mild, causing little more than an annoying itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling that disappear within a day or so. A delayed reaction may cause fever, hives, painful joints and swollen glands. You might experience both the immediate and the delayed reactions from the same insect bite or sting. Only a small percentage of people develop severe reactions (anaphylaxis) to insect venom. Signs and symptoms of a severe reaction include:
Facial swelling
Difficulty breathing
Abdominal pain
Deterioration of blood pressure and circulation (shock)
Bites from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants are typically the most troublesome. Bites from mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, ants, scorpions and some spiders also can cause reactions. Scorpion and ant bites can be very severe. Although rare, some insects also carry disease such as West Nile virus or Lyme disease.”  Cicadas are not mentioned in the list of insects with bites that might cause a reaction.  According to Cicada Mania:  “Technically cicadas don’t bite or sting; they do however pierce and suck. They might try to pierce and suck you, but don’t worry, they aren’t Vampires nor are they malicious or angry — they’re just ignorant and think you’re a tree. Just remove the cicada from your person, and go about your business. Cicadas also have pointy feet, egg-laying parts (ovipositors) and other sharp parts that might feel like a bite.  Cicadas don’t have jaws (mandibles) like a wasp, mantis or ant, built to tear and chew flesh. Cicadas don’t have stingers, like bees and wasps, meant to deploy venom and paralyze or otherwise harm their victim. See a video of a Japanese hornet to see what I mean.  Cicadas obtain sustenance by drinking tree fluids, which are relatively watery compared to human blood. Drinking human blood would probably kill a cicada.”
  For many years we informed our readership that Cicadas do not bite nor sting, and then in 2009, we received this report:  “A few years ago, while working in a state park nature center in Indiana, a young (6 years old) entomologist brought his latest aquisition, a cicada, to show me. I picked it up and let it crawl on my thumb. When I was ready to give it back, the thing wouldn’t let go, and decided to press that sucking mouth part into my thumb. It was pretty painful. They can DEFINATELY bite (or perhaps STAB is a more appropriate term).”  In our opinion, you do not need to fear Cicadas because of an allergic reaction, but we must qualify that with the reiteration that we do not have medical credentials, nor entomological ones for that matter.

3 thoughts on “Cicada: Concern over Allergies”

  1. About 2 and 1/2 years ago I was bit on my lower back by a Tussock Moth Caterpillar. Now years later I have been diagnosed with Shingles. I have a very painful red purrulent rash from near the site of the bite involving my lower back, below my bra and above my buttocks which travels around to my mid front and down to my groin. Could this untreated bite be responsible after this time elapse. I had no treatment at time of exposure.

  2. We had a Cicadas invasion this year. The pupae crawled up the side of the house in droves to the point we couldn’t stand any more. I smacked them with a flyswatter and killed close to 100 a day as they emerged. After every session of swatting, my nose ra profusely for the rest of the day. I do not suffer from pollen allergies so I have determined that I am allergic to cicada guts


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