Have you ever seen animals that eat cicadas? What kinds of animals eat these noisy insects?
Cicadas are found on every continent except Antarctica, and if you’ve spent much time outdoors in the summer, chances are you’ve heard their signature song.
But not everyone knows that cicadas are a delicacy to many species of animals.
Numerous animal species have been spotted tucking into cicadas worldwide, from bats to birds, tortoises to tigers.
In this article, we will look at two specific groups of animals that enjoy feasting on these tasty critters – frogs and raptors – and explore their interactions with cicadas.
Let’s dive into this blog post of animals that eat cicadas!
The first of this list of animals that eat cicadas, skunks are interesting animals regarding their food preferences. While many people know them for their distinctive smell, skunks also have a strong appetite for cicadas. Skunks will burrow into the ground near where cicada nymphs (larvae) live underground and wait until the cicadas emerge from the ground as adults in summer before they feast on them.
These opportunistic feeders won’t hesitate to eat virtually any insect they find, including cicadas, aphids, grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, beetles, and much more. Skunks alluringly hunt cicadas by ambushing them as they fly near foliage or trees at night. Interestingly enough, pond-dwelling skunks use water instead of foliage to ambush their prey – simply waiting by the water’s edge while listening out for any approaching buzz of a cicada.
When it arrives at the banks of a body of water and lands in reach of the skunk, who is lying in wait beneath some nearby vegetation -the nocturnal predator jumps out with ferocious agility and instantly captures its unsuspecting prey. Despite this clever hunting method, even skunks can be caught off guard by larger species, such as female “periodical” cicadas, because of their formidable size, making them harder to catch.
Bobcats, also known as North American wild cats, are fierce predators that can be found all across the continent. These animals predominantly feed on small prey such as rabbits and voles but have been known to hunt much larger animals when necessary and eat various types of insects. One of the most favored insect meals for bobcats are cicadas.
Bobcats like to eat adult cicadas and egg masses, which they often find while scavenging around tree bark or digging in the ground near their burrows. This hunting behavior has led some researchers to claim that bobcats may contribute to population control of these insects when their own food supplies become scarce due to seasonal fluctuations or environmental changes.
Bobcats, as animals that eat cicadas, seem to especially savor the taste of the protein-rich chitinous exoskeleton of the insect. This adds it to their diets not just during times of need but possibly even out of interest for its unique flavor.
While it’s unlikely that bobcats prey extensively on cicadas due to scarcity in certain areas, this behavior shows up again across habitats where cicada populations have started booming. This proves repeatedly that these fearless predators are always willing to add something new to their diet if given the opportunity!
Dogs are among the most popular animals in the world as well as one of the most curious when it comes to food. While their diets usually consist of regular canine-appropriate meals, there is an interesting delicacy that some dogs can’t seem to get enough of: cicadas. Cicadas are insect larvae that emerge from the ground in large swarms during the summer months and are a great source of nutrition for pets.
Dogs are also animals that eat cicadas and have been seen snacking on them with great enthusiasm and relish. Some dogs seem to enjoy eating cicadas so much that they will go out of their way to find them! For humans, consuming cicadas may sound unappetizing; however, these insects provide essential nutrients and benefit dogs in various ways.
Since these bugs spend most of their lives underground, eating plant roots and stem, they accumulate large amounts of protein and other important minerals. These include iron, vitamins B6 and B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc which help promote healthy skin and coat in our canine friends. Additionally, their shells act as a natural toothbrush by helping clean teeth when chewed on by a dog (though this should be done carefully).
Dogs can consume both the adult version and nymphs in moderation. Still, it is important that pet owners ensure that no pesticides or chemicals present on plants consumed by cicadas have been ingested by their pets beforehand. Overall, providing your four-legged friend with a few cicadas every now and then can be beneficial health-wise. However, you should consult your veterinarian before offering anything new to your dog’s diet.
With that being said, if you’re looking for an interesting snack alternative while spending time outside this summer, why not let your pup investigate those swarming bugs nearby? Who knows – maybe they’ll even like it! We are just getting started with this list of animals that eat cicadas!
Cats are among the most popular pets worldwide and are beloved by many for their affectionate and playful personalities. However, some people may not realize that cats are also adept hunters and predators who sometimes predate upon invertebrates, such as cicadas. As a natural predatory behavior, cats can oftentimes be found stalking, chasing, and pursuing any cicadas they find within a reasonable distance from their homes. They might even catch the occasional unlucky cicada if they’re lucky!
Cats are animals that eat cicadas and have multiple senses that help them locate potential prey, including the sound of which cicadas make plenty. This means they have a greater chance of catching one once they know where to find one. They use their keen eyesight to spot movement and focus on hunting small prey species such as cicadas.
In addition, cats also have excellent hearing, which helps them hone in on their target easily and quickly zero in for the kill! Cats may also employ other hunting techniques like stalking or pouncing to catch cicadas in certain situations. All of these behaviors make cats very effective predators when it comes to preying on smaller invertebrates like cicadas.
Squirrels are animals that eat cicadas. As omnivores, they enjoy a varied diet which often includes cicadas as a source of protein and other nourishment. In addition, squirrels can detect the location of cicadas by listening and feeling their vibrations through the ground with their feet, enabling them to find food in areas where cicadas are plentiful easily.
Squirrels usually climb trees to get to cicada larvae that live underground because they don’t have the tools or skills to dig deep enough into the ground. Once they reach their destination, they gladly snack on these bugs, which offer high nutritional value and greatly benefit their health.
Another interesting fact is that Squirrels typically don’t hoard or store food in their burrows like other animals. However, when it comes to cicadas, they will sometimes take too much, leaving leftovers behind only for them to be found and eventually devoured elsewhere by another animal.
Rats are historically known to be omnivorous, meaning that they will eat almost anything, including insects, such as cicadas. Rats have been observed somewhat frequently consuming cicadas when they are available, with some reports suggesting that they may even prefer them over other food sources due to their high-calorie content and soft exoskeleton. Rat populations in regions where cicadas emerge in large numbers may benefit from an annual influx of food that may not be available elsewhere in their habitats.
Furthermore, cicadas remain intact during digestion and have been found in rat droppings, further supporting that rats may select them as dietary items. Ultimately, although not all rats will consume cicadas specifically, these animals have all the necessary tools to acquire this incredibly valuable resource. This makes them potential predators that any observer studying local cicada populations should consider.
Of the different types of animals that eat cicadas, the anteater is also one that specializes in eating these insects. They have evolved specialized adaptations for hunting, catching, and consuming them. Anteaters use their long sticky tongues to capture and eat cicadas from the ground and from trees, branches, and leaves.
The tongue can widen and flap rapidly, allowing the anteater to quickly snag these small bugs. They can also extract more energy from cicadas than most other animals due to their unique digestive system. Anteaters forage for cicadas by taking advantage of a wide range of environmental cues, such as temperature changes or reports of insect activity among other animals at a distance.
It is thought that they can smell the broken-down odor molecules of dead bugs or hear the sound of flying ones triggered by ultrasonic signals associated with male mating practices. Moreover, they have one of the best acuities in hearing among land mammals, allowing them to detect tiny noise signals emitted by certain cicadas in motion. This combined set of adaptations enables anteaters to locate cicadas before any other predators and allows this remarkable species to thrive close yet distant relative living among us!
Raccoons, native to North America and parts of Central and South America, are known for their adaptability and opportunistic feeding habits. These animals are omnivorous, consuming a variety of vegetation and small animals, including cicadas. This can be especially beneficial during the summer months when cicadas emerge in large numbers across the United States, creating an abundance of insects.
Raccoons are animals that eat cicadas too. They have adapted well to living near urban areas, which offer them easy access to human food and trash as sources of nutrition. However, when these other options are scarce, and cicadas emerge from their burrows in the ground en masse, raccoons may also enjoy hunting down these large insects to supplement their diet.
Cicadas contain lots of protein which makes them an ideal snack for raccoons. They also provide good energy for these wild creatures to overcome environmental stresses or build up reserves for harsh winters. In addition to providing a source of sustenance, catching cicadas may be a form of entertainment for these mischievous mammals as they chase down the bugs skittering on bark or branches.
Compared to the rest of the animals that eat cicadas, bats are one of the few animals that actively hunt and feed on them. There are several species of bats, both large and small, that can be found hunting cicadas, directly or indirectly. During their mating season, many species of males emerge and gather together in ”singing parties,” – making them a perfect meal for bats that rely on sound to locate their prey.
Additionally, some species of bats like to eat insects in any form, whether raw or cooked. As long as there is an abundance of cicadas around during the warmer summer months, bats will continue feeding upon them regularly.
Furthermore, as cicada populations wax and wane with changing seasons and years due to factors such as climate change and drought, bats have been known to move from one area to another. They always look for food sources whenever populations do not support their own numbers.
Bears, one of the largest and most powerful animals in North America and Eurasia, are known for their omnivorous diets. Although they occasionally hunt larger animals for food, bears typically survive on nuts, fruits, and insects. Cicadas are a particular favorite, especially when in season during late summer and autumn.
In addition to foraging directly off trees or eating those that have already been killed by predators such as birds or larger mammals, bears can use their superior strength and agility to shake trees or tear apart decaying wood to access larvae or eggs lying within. Bears will often gorge on cicadas while they are available before switching to less energy-intensive food sources as winter approaches. This list of animals that eat cicadas is not complete without bears!
Woodchucks, or groundhogs, are a type of mammal in North America. These playful animals are unique because they eat cicadas, which are large insect-like pests. Woodchucks can consume large numbers of cicadas during mating season when the insects swarm around trees and fields looking for mates.
As omnivores, these rodents also enjoy plants and other small organisms in addition to their insect-based diet. Woodchucks, which are animals that eat cicadas, hibernate during the winter months to conserve energy and scarce resources.
This species is often seen digging burrows in suburban yards, gardens, and pastures as they look for places to find food near human settlements or communities. In addition to eating cicadas, these animals rely on fruits, nuts, grasses, roots, and various vegetation types during summertime when food sources become more plentiful.
The opossum is one of the animals that eat cicadas and is a nocturnal marsupial native to the Americas. As an omnivore, the opossum diet consists of insects, fruits, vegetables, and small animals. Cicadas are one type of insect that opossums love to eat! From late spring through early fall, plenty of cicadas in the woods or gardens provide opossums with a delicious snack strung amongst vegetable matter or larvae.
Moreso, they use their sensitive fingers and sharp claws to grasp the hard outer shell of a cicada and even “shave” away bark around them if necessary. Opossums have adaptations that make it easier for them to find and feed on cicadas than other mammals. They have a “bifurcated lower jaw,” which helps them hold onto these large bugs without issue.
In addition to eating live cicadas off trees, opossums also enjoy scavenging dead bugs from their homes or burrows. During peak molting season, when the cicada population explodes across many areas of North America, an abundance of heavily sought-after nutrients can be found in dead cicadas scattered throughout wooded areas or yards.
For example, during peak molting times in Ohio, when annual species like Magicicada septendecim appear in massive numbers each summer, local opossums can feed off decaying parts of these cicada carcasses for weeks at a time with no shortage of sustenance! While they may not actively seek out features such as wings or legs sometimes found on deceased bugs, this often doesn’t stop opportunistic animals from taking advantage of an easy meal while they still can!
13. Red Fox
The red fox is an agile and intelligent mammal that is well suited to preying on small animals like cicadas. Red foxes have long, bushy tails with distinctive white tips and vary in size from just over one foot at the shoulder to reaching up to three feet tall. Red foxes live across much of the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia, in various habitats and ecosystems ranging from tundra to grasslands.
Red foxes primarily eat insects like cicadas but supplement their diet with small mammals such as mice, voles, and rabbits. The red fox will often track the sound of its prey using its large ears, pinpointing its exact location before rapidly chasing it down. Red foxes can sprint up to thirty miles per hour for short bursts, making them some of life’s fastest predators on land.
Additionally, red foxes are opportunistic foragers who will opportunistically eat whatever food is available when necessary, making them quite versatile feeders. They can hunt day and night thanks to their sharp vision, which helps them catch prey in low-light conditions. Because of their varied diet and adaptability, red foxes, as animals that eat cicadas, are considered surprisingly successful hunters despite their diminutive size.
Ultimately, cicadas provide an important source of nutrition for many mammals, birds, reptiles, and even some insects. While they are a potentially dangerous nuisance to humans and their properties, they can also be an essential part of an animal’s diet.
Due to cicadas’ abundance in many parts of the world, their availability as a food source ensures that animals can find the food they need to survive. We hope our list of animals that eat cicadas was helpful enough. All the best!