When cicadas emerge, they can be overwhelming, with as many as a million per acre. Luckily, they don’t want to be in our homes any more than we want them to be there. Here’s how to eliminate cicadas if they start getting in your home.

Are Cicadas Dangerous?

No. Cicadas do not transmit diseases to people or pets, nor do they bite, sting or scratch.”Just don’t eat them,” says Amy Yarger, Senior Director of Horticulture at Butterfly Pavilion. “Some people are allergic to eating them!” (But don’t worry if your dog does. Cicadas are safe snacks for pets.)

Do Cicadas Bite?

No, cicadas do not bite or sting. Their mouthparts aren’t capable of that. But “cicadas will defend themselves by flicking their wings, making their iconic loud buzzing, or urinating on you,” says Emma Grace Crumbley, an entomologist with Mosquito Squad.

Should You Use Pesticides to Get Rid of Cicadas?

No. It’s not effective, especially because of their sheer numbers. Instead, “it is best to let them get on with their lives and enjoy the spectacle,” says Matthew Shepherd, Director of Outreach and Education at Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “They will only be around for a few weeks.”

It’s also a good idea not to use pesticides on cicadas because they are important to the ecosystem, providing food for birds, chipmunks, foxes, raccoons and more. When they’re exposed to pesticides, harm is transferred up the food chain. Pesticides also make matters worse by getting rid of cicadas’ natural predators, says Jeremy McReynolds, a pest expert at TruGreen.

Cicadas are also beneficial because, as they decompose, they add nutrients to the soil, and while they’re nymphs, they create tunnels that help aerate the soil, says Dr. Daniel A. Herms of The Davey Tree Expert Company.

How To Prevent Cicadas from Getting In/Around Your House Without Pesticides

Though cicadas sometimes crawl up the side of homes, they aren’t trying to get in. Here are a few ways to minimize their chances of accidentally ending up inside.

Secure Entry Points

Keep windows and doors closed, seal any significant gaps, and ensure screens are intact. “Unlike ants, flies or roaches, these large, chunky insects cannot use small cracks and crevices to get in your home,” says Crumbley. “If a cicada is found inside, it likely wandered in through an open door or window.”

Limit Your Lighting

Keep outdoor lights turned off and curtains closed at night. “Like most other bugs, cicadas are attracted to light, so minimize outdoor lighting during the peak,” says McReynolds.

Do Preventative Landscaping

Discourage them from being near your house by trimming tree branches, cleaning out gutters and protecting trees with netting or foil barrier tape to keep them from climbing. “Spraying down tree and shrub branches with water also makes the habitat less attractive to cicadas,” says Yarger.

What to Do If Cicadas Do Get Into Your House

To get rid of cicadas in your home, relocate them outside by catching them in a cup or container or using a vacuum to extract them from hard-to-reach spaces. “They will likely make a loud noise when you grab them, but that’s all,” says Shepherd. “To use an animal analogy, they are all bark and no bite.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What attracts cicadas?

Soft, woody plants and trees attract cicadas. There’s also some evidence that loud vibrations, such as those from HVAC units, lawnmowers and leaf blowers interest them. “Cicadas communicate through loud buzzing, and these vibrations may confuse them into thinking a mate is nearby,” says Crumbley.

Why do cicadas make noise?

Cicadas make noise to attract mates. “The males have a pair of ridged membranes on their bodies that they rub together to create the loud noise,” says Shepherd. “Females flick their wings in response, which makes a lesser noise but still contributes to the din.”

What do cicadas eat?

As adults, cicadas suck sap from young trees, shrubs and other woody plants. As nymphs living underground, they feed on plant fluids from plant roots.

When do cicadas come out?

Annual cicadas emerge every year, once the soil temperature reaches a certain warmth, usually in late spring or summer. Periodical cicadas emerge every 13 or 17 years, depending on the brood.

About the Experts

Matthew Shepherd is Director of Outreach and Education at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, where he has worked form more than two decades.Daniel A. Herms is Vice President of Research and Development at The Davey Tree Expert Company. He has a Ph.D. in entomology and was a professor of forest and shade tree entomology for 21 years in the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University.Amy Yarger is Senior Director of Horticulture at Butterfly Pavilion, where she has worked for more than two decades. Butterfly Pavilion is the first standalone, Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited non-profit invertebrate zoo in the world.Jeremy McReynolds is a pest expert and TruGreen‘s New York Compliance Manager.Emma Grace Crumbley is an entomologist at Mosquito Squad and a self-described bug nerd who uses her expertise to educate people about the fascinating world of bugs.Read More