Do Squirrels Eat Cicadas? Unveiling the Surprising Truth

Squirrels are known for their diverse diet, which primarily consists of nuts, seeds, and fruits. However, their foraging habits extend to other food sources, such as cicadas, when the opportunity arises. The consumption of cicadas by squirrels can be particularly beneficial for them, as these insects are rich in protein and easily available during cicada emergence periods.

Cicadas emerge in massive numbers at specific intervals, providing a readily available source of nutrition for various animals, including squirrels. Although squirrels primarily feed on plant-based foods, they can also consume bird eggs, insects, and other animal matter when available. This flexibility in diet allows squirrels to adapt to different environments and food sources.

Given this information, it’s evident that squirrels do eat cicadas when the opportunity presents itself. This opportunistic feeding behavior allows squirrels to diversify their diet and take advantage of abundant resources when they’re available. The next time you see a squirrel scurrying around during a cicada emergence, remember that it might be on the hunt for these protein-rich insects.

Squirrels, Cicadas and Diet

Squirrels are primarily herbivores, but they sometimes consume insects for protein. Cicadas, also known as “land shrimp,” are large insects that emerge periodically and are eaten by various animals.

Cicadas provide essential nutrients to animals that consume them. Squirrels take advantage of cicada’s availability, feasting on them when they come out. Rich in protein and fat, cicadas complement the squirrels’ diets by adding variety.

Some features of squirrels and cicadas:

  • Squirrels: Small mammals, primarily herbivorous, agile tree climbers
  • Cicadas: Large insects, periodic emergence, a food source for various animals

Here is a comparison table of the nutritional values of cicada and squirrels’ usual diet:

Food Source Protein Fat Key Nutrients
Cicadas High High Protein, fat
Nuts & Seeds Moderate High Protein, healthy fats

Cicadas might appear on the menu of squirrels only when they emerge, which is infrequent. They provide the squirrels with a supplementary source of beneficial nutrients when they are available.

In summary, squirrels are primarily herbivorous but also opportunistic eaters. Cicadas, as a source of protein and fat, are a welcome addition to their diets when they emerge, even though their consumption is limited to specific periods.

Squirrel Diet Variety

Squirrels are known for their diverse diet, which includes a wide range of foods. Some common items they consume are:

  • Nuts: Acorns, walnuts, and hazelnuts are favored by squirrels.
  • Seeds: Pine cones, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are popular choices.
  • Vegetables: Squirrels may nibble on corn, peas, and leafy greens.
  • Fruits: Apples, cherries, and berries are attractive to squirrels.
  • Flowers: Squirrels enjoy eating flowers like roses and dandelions.
  • Mushrooms: They may occasionally forage for edible fungi.
  • Grasses: Green grasses are also part of their diet.

In comparison to nuts and seeds, which are energy-rich, other food items may provide fewer calories and less nutrition.

Food Type Nutritional Value
Nuts High
Seeds High
Vegetables Medium
Fruits Medium
Flowers Low
Mushrooms Low
Grasses Very Low

Apart from these food sources, squirrels have also been observed eating insects, eggs, and even young birds. However, their primary diet is predominantly plant-based. Their foraging habits and diet variety allow squirrels to thrive in various habitats, from forests to urban environments.

Predators, Prey and the Balance

Squirrels are small mammals that form an important part of the ecosystem. They serve as both predators and prey, helping to maintain a balance in their environment.

Predators of squirrels:

  • Birds, such as owls and hawks
  • Mammals, like weasels, foxes, and raccoons
  • Snakes
  • Larger rodents and other mammals

Squirrels are known to eat a variety of insects like cicadas as part of their diet. Cicadas also serve as food for many predators mentioned above.

Predators Squirrel Cicada
Birds
Mammals
Snakes

During cicada emergence periods, many animals experience a temporary increase in food availability, leading to what’s known as a “cicada feast.” Predators can take advantage of the abundance and rely heavily on these insects during such times.

In conclusion, squirrels and cicadas both play essential roles in balancing the ecosystem by acting as predators and prey. The interactions between these species and various predators ensure a constant cycle of consumption, maintaining the delicate balance in nature.

Cicadas in the Ecosystem

Cicadas play an important role in the ecosystem. They provide various benefits to wildlife and are native to eastern North America. Cicadas are generally not harmful to their environment, unlike locusts1. Females lay eggs on mature tree branches, which usually survive the process2.

Some characteristics of cicadas:

  • They serve as a food source for wildlife, such as birds and squirrels
  • They help recycle nutrients in the ecosystem by breaking down plant material
  • They do not bite people and are not considered a significant nuisance

Cicadas are available in abundance during their emergence periods, which occur every 13 or 17 years3. This abundance provides a valuable food source for various animals, including flying squirrels, grey squirrels, and fox squirrels. However, their numbers don’t last long, as they eventually die off, and wildlife needs to rely on other food sources such as caterpillars and acorns4.

Comparing Caterpillars and Cicadas in the Ecosystem

Feature Caterpillars Cicadas
Feeding habits Herbivores Herbivores (sap feeding)
Prey species Birds, reptiles, rodents, etc. Birds, squirrels, etc.
Impact Can defoliate trees and plants Minimal harm to their habitat5

In conclusion, both cicadas and caterpillars are crucial to North America’s ecosystem as they provide essential benefits to wildlife and contribute to nutrient recycling. Their abundance serves as a valuable food source for various species, including squirrels, which are known to consume both types of insects.

Life Cycle of Cicadas and Attractiveness as Prey

Cicada life cycles vary among species; while most species have a 2-5 year cycle, periodical cicadas emerge every 13 or 17 years1. The life cycle begins with a mating ritual, where male cicadas “sing” to attract females2. After mating, females lay eggs in tree grooves. The eggs hatch in six to seven weeks, releasing nymphs that fall to the ground and burrow into the soil2.

In their underground existence, cicada nymphs undergo a series of molts to grow larger3. The final molt marks the emergence of adult cicadas, which leave the soil to mate and restart the cycle3.

Cicadas’ life cycle stages determine their attractiveness as prey for squirrels and other animals. For example:

  • Larval stage: Cicada larvae are relatively safe from predators due to their underground existence3.
  • Emergence: When nymphs emerge from the ground to molt into adults, they are vulnerable and easy to catch3.

Cicadas have some characteristics that influence their attractiveness as prey:

  • Exoskeleton: Cicadas’ exoskeleton can be hard for some animals to digest, leading to constipation4.
  • No stingers or parasites: Unlike some insects, cicadas don’t have stingers or carry parasites, making them relatively safe for consumption5.

Comparing cicadas with some other common prey for squirrels:

Prey Attractiveness Reasons
Cicadas Medium Easy to catch during emergence, but exoskeleton can cause constipation45
Tree nuts High Easily accessible, nutritious, and tasty6
Fruits High Easily accessible and nutritious7

In conclusion, cicadas are an attractive prey for squirrels during their emergence stage. Although they lack harmful features like stingers or parasites, their exoskeletons may cause digestive issues45. Nevertheless, in the right conditions, squirrels might enjoy cicadas as a part of their varied diet.

Animals and Insects as Squirrel Diet

Squirrels Diet in General

Squirrels are known for their diverse diets, which often depend on their habitat and food availability. They typically consume various plant-based options, such as fruits, berries, bark, fungi, roots, and bulbs.

Insects in Squirrels Diet

Additionally, squirrels eat animal parts, including insects and invertebrates. Some common insects that squirrels may consume include:

  • Spiders
  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillars
  • Grubs
  • Wasps

Among these insects, cicadas are one example of a food source for squirrels. The abundance of cicadas during their emergence periods provides an attractive and temporary meal option for squirrels.

Cicadas vs Other Insects

Cicadas differ from some other insects in squirrels’ diets due to their large size and the rarity of their appearance. Moreover, cicadas can be easily captured and consumed by squirrels, making them a convenient meal option.

Insect Size Frequency of Appearance Ease of Capture
Cicadas Large Rare Easy
Spiders Small Common Moderate
Beetles Small Common Moderate

Interaction with Other Animals

While squirrels may occasionally interact with other animals, such as dogs, cats, and chipmunks in their habitats, they do not typically consume these animals. However, squirrels themselves may fall prey to various predators, including reptiles, birds of prey, and larger mammals.

Squirrels’ Nut Hunting Patterns

Squirrels are well-known for their love of nuts. Their nut hunting patterns vary depending on the type of nut they’re after. Some of their favorite nuts include:

  • Acorns
  • Walnuts
  • Hickory nuts
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts

Squirrels usually forage for nuts in the early mornings and late afternoons. They have a strong sense of smell, which helps them locate nuts on the ground or in trees.

For example, squirrels are particularly fond of acorns. They are known to bury acorns underground, creating a hidden cache of food. However, they might forget some of the buried acorns, which contributes to oak forest regeneration.

Here is a comparison table of some common nuts squirrels love:

Nut Type Availability Squirrel’s Preference
Acorns High High
Walnuts Moderate High
Hickory nuts Low Moderate
Almonds Low Low
Peanuts Moderate Moderate

Some pros and cons of squirrels’ nut hunting patterns are:

Pros:

  • Helps with seed dispersal and forest regeneration
  • Provides a food source for squirrels throughout the year

Cons:

  • Can cause damage to trees and plants
  • May lead to competition with other animals for the same food source

In conclusion, squirrels play a crucial role in the ecosystem by helping with seed dispersal through their nut hunting and caching behavior. They are drawn to a variety of nuts, but some are more preferred than others in their diet.

Impact of Squirrel Diet on Homeowners and Pets

Squirrels are known for their diverse diet, which can include cicadas, nuts, seeds, and fruits. Homeowners and pet owners may wonder how this diet impacts their daily lives.

When squirrels find a new food source like cicadas, they might show less interest in other human-made food sources, such as bird feeders. As a result, this can be both a pro and a con for homeowners:

Pros:

  • Less raiding of bird feeders
  • Reduced damage to garden plants

Cons:

  • Increased squirrel activity due to the natural food source

A comparison of squirrel diet components relevant to homeowners and pets:

Food Item Impact on Homeowners Impact on Pets
Cicadas Less reliance on bird feeders Not directly applicable
Sap Potential tree damage Not directly applicable
Bread Attracts squirrels to properties Potential choking hazard
Raisins Attracts squirrels to properties Toxic to dogs
Fish Attracts squirrels to properties Not directly applicable

Squirrels may try to access sap by stripping the bark on trees, causing potential damage. To prevent this, homeowners can:

  • Wrap trees with wire mesh
  • Apply repellents to deter squirrels

It is crucial for pet owners to be aware of the risks associated with squirrels’ consumption of certain foods. For example:

  • Bread can pose a choking hazard to pets.
  • Raisins are toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure.

In summary, the diet of squirrels can influence the interaction between these animals, homeowners, and pets. By understanding their dietary habits, households can take measures to protect their trees, gardens, and pets from potential harm.

The Nutritious Value of Cicadas and Other Prey

Cicadas offer a high protein source for animals like squirrels. They are as nutritious as certain types of meat and have an added advantage: fewer environmental effects.

Here are some benefits of cicadas:

  • High protein content
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Sustainable alternative to meat

Squirrels, especially robins, benefit from the nutritious value of cicadas. Cicadas also contain traces of calcium, crucial for bone health in animals.

In Antarctica, animals rely on alternative sources of protein. For example, krill provides Antarctic wildlife the nutrients they need.

Let’s compare cicadas with another common prey of squirrels, caterpillars:

Food Protein Calcium Vitamins
Cicadas High Low Rich
Caterpillars Moderate Moderate Moderate

In conclusion:

  • Cicadas are a valuable food source for squirrels and other animals
  • They provide high protein, vitamins, and some calcium
  • Caterpillars are another nutritious option, but cicadas outshine them in protein content

Cicada Predators Beyond Squirrels

Squirrels are not the only creatures that enjoy feasting on cicadas. Birds are also known predators of the periodical cicada, with species like robins, starlings, and common grackles relishing the insect meal.

In comparison to squirrels, birds have a slight advantage in their hunt for cicadas thanks to their ability to swoop down and quickly snatch them from the air or tree branches.

Apart from birds, there are several other predators that feast on cicadas. Here’s a list of some other cicada predators:

  • Mammals like raccoons and opossums
  • Various reptile species, including snakes and lizards
  • Insects such as praying mantises, ants and spiders

Interestingly, some of these cicada predators aren’t restricted only to the 17-year cicada but also feed on other cicada species, like the annual cicadas. Moreover, it’s crucial to note that some of these predators are opportunistic and may feed on cicadas in varying numbers.

In addition to the predators mentioned, let’s not forget about grasshoppers. Although grasshoppers do not directly prey on cicadas, they share the same ecological niche and face similar predators. So, it is not uncommon to find birds, mammals, and reptiles hunting both cicadas and grasshoppers.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the differences between cicadas and grasshoppers:

Feature Cicadas Grasshoppers
Lifecycle 13 or 17 years underground Shorter, usually just 1 year
Sound production Unique loud calls Chirping or buzzing sounds
Role in ecosystems Mostly prey Both prey and herbivores

In conclusion, it is evident that cicadas, including the 17-year cicada, face numerous predators in their natural habitats besides squirrels. These predators play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling cicada populations and providing food for various wildlife species.

Footnotes

  1. https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2011/05/19/cicadas-environmental-role/ 2

  2. https://extension.psu.edu/periodical-cicada 2 3

  3. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/education/teaching-resources/life-science/periodical-cicadas 2 3 4 5

  4. https://omnia.sas.upenn.edu/story/how-cicada-oak-tree-and-why-you-should-care 2 3 4

  5. https://news.arizona.edu/story/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-cicadas 2 3 4

  6. Squirrel Food Sources

  7. Diet and Nutrition for Squirrels

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Tiny Cicada from Texas

 

Teeny Tiny Cicada
I found the smallest Cicada today…I’ve been amazed by them all my life and never had any idea they came so tiny! In my online search for the tiny darlings (I thought I may have found a new species…haha) I came across your phenomenal site and had to say, ‘Wow, you are awesome as is your website!!’ I’ve been browsing for hours now…Thank you!!! I will attach photos…including a strange butterfly/moth?? and a Huge beetle (my daughter named it Fancy…hehe…She’s also a Bug Lover! Have a Fabulous Sunday :0) , Thanks again…
Chauntelle Grigsby
Boerne, Texas

Hi Chauntelle,
We thought you grew everthing larger in Texas!!! We must confess we are not certain about what your Cicada is exactly. We think it looks similar to a Beameria venosa posted to BugGuide that is also from Texas. Your photo shows more detail, so perhaps a cicada expert can provide more details. The butterfly is a newly metamorphosed Great Purple Hairstreak.

Update:  June 29, 2016
A new comment today caused us to update this posting and to look for other examples of
Beameria venosa online.  iNaturalist has a very nice image.

Update:  February 4, 2020
A new comment suggests this Cicada is Pacarina puella.  According to BugGuide, the common name is the Little Mesquite Cicada and it is referred to as a “Tiny cicada with a BIG head”

Letter 2 – Costa Rican Cicada

 

Turquoise and Black Beetle
Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 2:43 AM
Saw this one laying on the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica. I think it was dying because it wasn’t moving much and wasn’t scared of us. It was about 2 inches long. So beautiful..
Tori
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Cicada from Costa Rica
Cicada from Costa Rica

Hi Tori,
Your mystery insect is a Cicada, not a Beetle. Cicadas are often responsible for the loud buzzing sounds you hear emanating from the treetops. We don’t know the species here, but perhaps one of our readers can supply that information. Meanwhile, we are going to ask Paco the Gardener from El Salvador to tell us the lore surrounding the Cicada in Central America and eventually post what he relates.

Update:
Hi Daniel:
This gorgeous cicada is in the genus Zammara, probably Z. smaragdina. There are one or two other possibilities in the genus, but Z. smaragdina looks the closest. I will be visiting Costa Rica myself in a few weeks and I will be looking for this beauty! Regards.
Karl
Link: http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/Honduras/Hemiptera/Zammara%20smaragdina.htm

Letter 3 – Spotted Cicada from Costa Rica

 

what’s that bug?
Dear Bugman,
I live in Costa Rica near Lake Arenal. We have a common cicada there that makes a noise like a high pitched jet engine scream. It is so incredibly loud, if you have it in your house you have to find it or you will not sleep. I have the photo attached to this e-mail. Do you know the common and scientific name? I have web site that is a guide to the area that I live in. It has several photo galleries. One of them is a bug gallery and I am trying to find the name of the bugs in the gallery.
http://www.sabalito.com/Photos/Bugs_Gallery.htm
If you like bugs you would like this place. They are everywhere. Thank you very much,
Augustinus Linssen

Hi Augustinus,
What a beautiful Cicada, sadly, we don’t know what it is. Perhaps someone will write in with an identification.

Update (07/17/2006)
I looked in several books and catalogues here at the Field Museum and I believe I found your cicada with 98% certainty. The illustration was in black and white but the wing pattern body shape, and size were definite matches. Later in the week I can go through the collections –time permitting– and perhaps find a collected specimen. Common name: spotted cicada Taxon: Zamamara smaragdina
David Mendez
Field Museum
Chicago, IL

Letter 4 – Teneral Cicada

 

bug
Hi Bugman,
Please help us identify this bug. We are students from 5c and 5g at George W. Truett Elementary in Dallas, Tx. Also do you like all bugs, or just some? Thanks

Hi Elementary School Students,
This is a Cicada in the genus Tibicen. Since it is in its teneral stage, immediately following a molt, the insect is pale and soft and has not attained its true adult coloration. This make exact identification much more difficult. Though we can appreciate the complexity of life on this planet and understand that all insects have a purpose, our level of tolerance drops sharply with invasive exotics that have no natural enemies and threaten other species to extinction. Additionally we have no mercy with aphids on our tomato plants. That said, we don’t exactly “love” all insects.

Letter 5 – Unknown Cicada

 

Cicada
Mon, May 11, 2009 at 11:40 AM
What kind of cicada is this? I found it today in my garden. I live in Pinetop, Arizona, which is around 7000 ft. elevation.
Thank you,
Diana Jeanne
Pinetop, Arizona

Unidentified Cicada
Newly metamorphosed Cicada

Hi Diana,
We are posting your wonderful photo of a Cicada in the hopes that one of our readers will be able to identify the species properly.

Identification: Wed, 13 May 2009 00:16:25 -0700
Daniel:
Oh, the unidentified cicada from Pinetop, Arizona is likely in the genus Platypedia, or a related genus. Males lack the tympanal organs of the more familiar cicadas. Instead, they tap their wings against whatever they are perched on.
Keep up the great work!
Eric Eaton

Letter 6 – Unknown Cicada from Brazil

 

can you identify this bug
January 15, 2010
Please could you tell me what this fly / insect is
Emma
Ilha Grande, Brazil

Cicada

Hi Emma,
This is some species of Cicada, but we are unable to identify the species at this time.  Perhaps one of our readers will know the species and provide a name.

Thank you very much for this information!

Possible Identification
hi,
the cicada in 2010/01/15/unknown-cicada-from-brazil/ looks like it belongs to the Orellana genus based on the shape of the pronotum, and the dark spots on the wing.
Dan
http://www.cicadamania.com/


Letter 7 – Treehopper from Costa Rica

 

Beautiful Red and Blue Coloured Cicada
Location: Costa Rica
April 28, 2012 12:32 pm
Dear Bugman,
I encountered this beautiful Cicada last week in Costa Rica, however, I cannot find any information or pictures of it on the internet. Could you tell me which species it is? Thanks in advance. Kind regards, Sjoerd Biesmans
Signature: ?

Treehopper

Dear Sjoerd,
We do not recognize this insect and we have not had any luck in our initial search of the internet with regards to identifying it.  While it is Cicada-like, we are not totally convinced it is a true Cicada.  It might be some other Free-Living Hemipteran in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha that also included Treehoppers as well as Cicadas, and we have our suspicions that this might be some species of Treehopper in the family Fulgoridae.  See BugGuidefor some North American representatives of the family Fulgoridae.  There is something about the front legs and eyes that makes us doubt that this is a Cicada. 
Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Not Cicada, rather a Treehopper

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your response. I’ve been looking around a bit more also to find out exactly what kind of unusually beautiful cicada-like bug this is.
The closest I’ve come so far is that it is most likely a plant or tree hopper indeed, probably a Scaralis spp.  Yet I’m not sure which one.
What are your thoughts on this? Thanks for the effort.
Kind regards.
Sjoerd Biesmans

Treehopper

 Thanks to your research, we believe we may have identified your Treehopper as Scaralis neotropicalis on Encyclopedia of Life.  It is one of the Fulgorid Treehoppers based on information on the AnimalBase website.

Hi Daniel,
I’ve looked at neotropicalis also and though it looks very similar, it seems to be lacking the blue on the abdomen and the blue/white vein like structures in the wings.
I think it is Scaralis for sure, but I’m not sure if it is neotropicalis. On the other hand, in this illustration:
http://scientificillustration.tumblr.com/post/17936839305/tab-5-laternaria-1-species-poblicia-2
the one looking most like my picture would indeed be Domitia (thus Scaralis) neotropicalis, but the one in the picture on encyclopedia of life seems more like a Domitia miscella..
Complicated… Seems like some of the webpages might have their facts wrong…
Thanks again, kind regards.
Sjoerd Biesmans

Letter 8 – Tiny Cicada Exuvia

 

Subject: Fairy Cicada
Location: Austin, Texas (June 21, 2017)
June 22, 2017 7:11 am
So, fairies have cicadas too?
As a lifelong Cicada lover, this is the tiniest shell I have seen. I thought it was a bee!
Signature: Joy always~ Quay

Possibly Exuvia of a Grass Cicada

Dear Joy,
While we cannot state conclusively that the exuvia you discovered belongs to a member of the genus
Cicadetta, the Small Grass Cicadas, there is a strong possibility that it does.  According to BugGuide:  “These are small delicate cicadas often mistaken for ‘Tree/Leaf Hoppers’.  All members are less than an inch in length incl. wings.  They are variable in color from bright lime green to tan to boldly patterned with browns and/or greens.”   According to BugGuide, Cicadetta texana is found from “TX to Gulf Coast” but there are no images. 

Grass Cicada Exuvia, we believe
We are guessing the Exuvia of a Grass Cicada

Letter 9 – Superb Dog Day Cicada

 

Subject: Neotibicen superbus
Location: Upper Texas Coast
July 4, 2017 11:34 pm
I found this superb dog-day cicada, Neotibicen superbus, lying in the street a week or two ago. While it is sadly deceased, I sent it in anyway because you do not seem to have another picture of the species aside from a blurry one from some years ago.
The cicada provided a meal for some ants, one of which is visible near the wing.
Signature: Lachlan

Superb Dog Day Cicada

Dear Lachlan,
Thanks so much for sending in your image of a Superb Dog Day Cicada.  According to BugGuide:  “This is the ‘greenest’ member of the Genus
Tibicen and characteristically distinct.  The abdomen and the outer margins of the wings are usually strongly yellowish-tan in color while the remainder of the insect is a bright lime green with reduced black patterning as compared with related species.”  BugGuide also notes it is “distinct in appearance and rarely if ever confused with other Tibicen spp.”

Letter 10 – Teneral Cicada and Exuvia

 

Subject: Odd Bug on Tree
Location: Massachusetts
July 15, 2017 1:05 pm
Hey bugman,
I was weed whacking today and noticed a very odd Bug on our pear tree. I’ve never seen anything like it before and it was 3-4 inches in length. What do you guys think this bug could be?
Signature: Sean

Teneral Cicada

Dear Sean,
This is a teneral or newly molted Annual Cicada.  If you look closely at your image, you can see the exuvia or cast-off exoskeleton several inches below the Cicada and to the left.

Teneral Cicada with Exuvia

Letter 11 – Southern Oak Cicada from Alabama

 

Subject:  Just submitting this picture. Thought it was really beautiful!
Geographic location of the bug:  Odenville, Alabama
Date: 07/24/2019
Time: 02:05 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi! I wanted to submit this picture I took today. Found this guy on my porch and thought it was beautiful! I am not sure what kind of bug this is but thought you guys would like the picture!
How you want your letter signed:  Brittni

Southern Oak Cicada

Dear Brittni,
Not to demean other submissions we receive, but we get much more pleasure reading a letter like yours that is actually excited about an insect sighting than we like reading submissions from horrified parents who have killed some insect because they fear for their child’s welfare, or from paranoid homemakers who believe everything that gets into the house poses a threat to the home and its inhabitants, or because a person perceives things that no one else believes are living in their bloodstream and that look like blurry chunks of mucous.  This magnificent insect is a Cicada, but it is not like the typical Dog Day Harvestflies we get submitted each summer.  We believe your individual is a Northern Dusk Singing Cicada,
Megatibicen auletes, which we identified thanks to numerous images on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide it is also known as the Southern Oak Cicada and “Despite the common name, this cicada is most common across the South.  Extreme n. Florida (“the Highlands”), Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina & Virginia.” BugGuide also notes:  “T. auletes is our LARGEST EASTERN Tibicen SPECIES.  In fact, it appears to be our largest and most robust North American Cicada (north of Mexico).”  A final note from BugGuide is “PRUINOSITY: These cicadas often look as though they are molded or have been dusted in “powdered sugar”. No other US species is so pruinose (NOTE: This white wax will wipe off and over time, esp. in older specimens, much of the white can be lost! Reduced white wax often changes the general appearance of these insects).”  According to Cicada Mania:  “These very large cicadas are loud, but not the loudest.”  According to Insect Singers:  ” Grating slow-pulsed song.  Calls from high in large trees.”  Thank you for your sweet submission and also for getting us off to a cheerful morning.

Thank you so much for the information! My son and I love taking pictures of wildlife and learn as much as we can! Thank you for everything that you do!

Letter 12 – Superb Cicada

 

Subject:  some kind of beatle
Geographic location of the bug:  Austin TXI
Date: 10/13/2021
Time: 12:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found it 09/01/2021 on my porch obviously dying
How you want your letter signed:  Bob McElhaney

Superb Cicada

Dear Bob,
This is not a Beetle.  It is a gorgeous Cicada.  We identified it as a Superb Cicada or Green Cicada,
Neotibicen superbus, thanks to BugGuide where it states that it:  “occupies several habitat types from forested to arid scrub. It is often associated with conifers; however, strong populations of this cicada can be found in areas where hardwoods are abundant.”

AKA Green Cicada

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

45 thoughts on “Do Squirrels Eat Cicadas? Unveiling the Surprising Truth”

  1. I have found 2 of these itty bitty cicadas this summer, I am in Sanger, which is on I-35, about 30 miles south of the TX / OK state line. There is a large population of the regular sized cicadas in this area and the little ones look much like them, just very petite !!

    Sure would like to know what they are …. Nancy

    Reply
  2. I have found 2 of these itty bitty cicadas this summer, I am in Sanger, which is on I-35, about 30 miles south of the TX / OK state line. There is a large population of the regular sized cicadas in this area and the little ones look much like them, just very petite !!

    Sure would like to know what they are …. Nancy

    Reply
  3. I saw one of these on my porch just now. I live in Plano, TX. I’ve seen it a couple of times in the last month. Proportioned exactly like the normal cicadas, but out half as long. I got it to crawl around on the tip of my index finger. Very cool. I also wonder what species it is.

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  4. I saw my first last week and now I walk out on the back porch and there are 2 more. Glad to finally know what I’ve been seeing!

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    • This is so weird lol i live in north TX andjust found two of the tiny lil fellas on my porch tonight! Came across this site while googling age of cicadas lol

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  5. I live in San Antonio and have have several of these itty bitty guys through the years. I just thought they were runts. They’re awesome… Like micro machines but alive.

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  6. I saw one last week in the yard, and just now found one in my house. So tiny! I used to look for emerging cicadas as a a child in Kansas, and didn’t realize they came in a small version, also. I live in Georgetown, TX.

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  7. Excellent! Thank you.
    I will be looking for grass cicadas now. I’m curious to hear those tiny tymbals in action:) ~Quay

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  8. Excellent! Thank you.
    I will be looking for grass cicadas now. I’m curious to hear those tiny tymbals in action:) ~Quay

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  9. I live in San Antonio, TX and I just had my first encounter with a tiny cicada. I had no idea they existed and I’m always looking out for strange bugs. Tiny Cicadas are adorable!

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  10. Found one in southeast MS while camping and was dumbfounded! Seen the bigger ones my entire life in the south but never that small. I thought I was seeing things.

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  11. One landed on my arm about 10 minutes ago (in relation to this post). I couldn’t believe my eyes as this was a cicada but much smaller than I’d ever seen before. Thanks to Google I found this website and discovered what it was. I’m in Houston, TX so they’ve made it this far into Southeast Texas.

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  12. I found one last year in my back yard. It was shedding its shell while hanging from a blade of grass. I live in Richardson, Texas(north of Dallas). I saved the shell as proof that I actually saw this little critter. This one was less than an inch long.

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  13. I found one of the tiny nymphs on a sidewalk in a park in Grand Prairie yesterday evening. It was raining so I could not get a photo but I moved it out of the rain into a dry area where it could continue it’s journey.

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  14. They’re emerging in City of Hempstead, Waller County. I found two in as many days. Nice little critters; I find one crawling all over my work glove. cCc

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  15. It’s been a few years since the original post but since it has sporadically garnered interest over the past three or so years, it should be noted that the cicada is Pacarina puella. It’s actually a little bit larger than Beameria venosa and is associated with mesquite, when present, throughout its range in Texas. The easiest differentiating morphological trait are the wide set eyes. Beameria venosa is covered more generously in pruinosity (white powdery wax) and has more wing infuscation (darkness) in the apical (outer) forewing veins. Cicadas of the genus Cicadettana are also tiny.

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  16. I saw a bug darting around in the garden tonight after dark. I was following it with the beam of my flashlight until it landed on my shirt. It was the smallest cicada I had ever seen. First I thought it was a baby before thinking about it more and realizing they are adults once they leave their shells. Had no idea they came in a small species variety lol. Very cool!

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  17. In Costa Rica these are known colloquially as “chicharras”. They start to emerge around this time of year (April) and the noise they make has to be heard first-hand to be believed. It sounds like the fan belt slipping on a car, if the car were the size of an aircraft carrier. I’ve clocked it at 92 dB.

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  18. I live in the mid Atlantic where we are waiting for the periodic 17 year Brood X cicadas to emerge in about a month. When I was a kid, though, we lived in the Dallas area. I used to catch the annual cicadas and keep them on our screened porch. One time I found a tiny one. Back then, I thought it was a baby. Now I understand, of course, that they emerge after their larval stage full sized, so I did a little searching today and found this. So fun!

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  19. I saw this cicada this weekend at Black Forest Lodge, Cayo District, Belize. It was large, I’d say 1.5 to 2″, and totally a light shade of turquoise, like some New Mexican artefact, not at all emerald green. It was hopping around a low light marking the path. At first I thought it was a frog because of how it was hopping and skeetering from point to point, but what really astonished me was that it sounded like a frog croaking – no screeching or shrilling or whistling from this one. I watched it for some minutes, and heard it throughout the night. The lodge’s bird guide knew nothing about it.

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  20. Found one in my sink after bringing in veggies from the garden yesterday! Cute little thing, took him outside and put him in my sage….he was a bit wet since I didn’t see him till I already started running the water in my sink! Hopefully he dried out and flew where he needed to be….

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  21. I live in Weatherford, Texas.
    I have seen the occasional Cicada, I’ve seen the nymphs
    This year I’ve seen over 15 miniature adult cicadas.
    I’ve seen only 5 normal adults, and 3 normal nymphs.
    I have one mini cicada pinned with other insects.

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