Can you eat cicadas? Try these tasty recipes with Brood XIX, Brood XIII this summer

Cicadas are loud, big and will number in the trillions this year, but there is perhaps the most important question of all to ask: are they delicious?

Broods XIX and XIII are already arriving in states across the Midwest and Southeast in a rare, double brood event. The two broods have not emerged at the same time since 1803, and will not do so again after this year until 2245.

If you are brave enough to sample the periodical insects appearing in two simultaneous broods across 17 states, there is a wealth of recipes already available to try, from chocolate-covered cicadas to cicada stir fry and others to satisfy your cravings.

Here's what to know about catching, cooking and eating cicadas.

Are cicadas dangerous? Busting myths on the harmfulness of the noisy pests.

Why do people eat cicadas?

Cicadas are safe for most people to eat, aid Margaret Slavin, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services, told the university in 2021.

“Cicadas and other insects contain high-quality protein,” Slavin told George Mason University. “Insects are generally considered to be good sources of protein, fiber, and minerals. They are commonly eaten in other places around the world for their nutritional qualities and their taste.”

During a cicada emergence in 2011 an ice cream shop in Columbia, Missouri called Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream offered cicada flavored ice cream, which was a huge hit and which quickly sold out.

However, the local health department was not thrilled and there won’t be a repeat in 2024.

"In and of themselves cicadas aren’t dangerous,” said Tamra Reall, a horticulture and etymology specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.

“But with such a long life history underground, you don’t know what they’ve been exposed to,” she said.

In 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted on X that people who are allergic to seafood should refrain from eating cicadas, as the insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters.

What kinds of cicadas are best to eat?

The best cicadas for cooking are tenerals, or those that have newly hatched, because their shells will be softer, according to “Cicada-licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas,” a mini cookbook created in 2004 by Jenna Jadin, a graduate student at the University of Maryland .

Jadin said it is best to collect these cicadas in the very early morning, "just after they have emerged, but before they have time to climb up out of reach." Once you have collected your desired amount of cicadas in a paper bag, you can either cook them immediately, refrigerate or freeze them.

If you plan to roast cicadas, Jadin recommends to freeze them first. And to prep for cooking, make sure to remove "all the hard parts," like wings and legs.

Jadin included 10 recipes in “Cicada-licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas,” but we'll share just a few of those with you.

How to make chocolate covered cicadas


  • 8 squares of good-quality semi-sweet chocolate

  • 30 dry roasted cicadas


  • Roast teneral (newly hatched) cicadas for 15 minutes at 225 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double-boiler over low heat. Dip insects in chocolate, place on wax paper and refrigerate until hardened

How to make cicada rhubarb pie


  • 4 cupts chopped rhubarb

  • 1 cup fresh cicadas, washed and any hard parts removed

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/4 of it over pastry in pie plate. Heap rhubarb over this mixture. Sprinkle cicadas in amongst the rhubarb. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour. Dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with top crust.

  • Place pie on lowest rack in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue baking for 40-45 minutes.

How to make cicada stir fry


  • 1 onion, minced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh gingerroot, minced

  • 3/4 cup chopped cauliflower and/or broccoli

  • 1 can water chestunuts

  • 3/4 cup bean sprouts

  • 3/4 cup snow peas

  • 40 blanched teneral (newly hatched) cicadas


  • Blanche cicadas for 1 minute in boiling water. You can store them in the freezer or use immediately.

  • In a wok or other pan, head a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add ingredients in the order listed above with the most recent addition are partially cooked.

  • Serve over whole grain rice and add soy sauce to taste.

2024 double cicada broods: Check out where Broods XIII, XIX will emerge

The two cicada broods will emerge in a combined 17 states across the Southeast and Midwest, with an overlap in parts of Illinois and Iowa.

They will emerge once soil eight inches underground reaches 64 degrees, expected to begin in many states in mid-May and lasting through late June.

Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Can you eat cicadas? Try these cicada recipes with Broods XIX, XIII