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Will Squirrels Eat Cicadas?

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Cicada mania is sweeping the United States. They’re everywhere, and people from all over are picking them up and posting pictures of cicadas on their social media profiles.

It’s been 17 years since the last emergence of cicadas from their underground nests and it’s all fun and games until they get here, but the sheer number of cicadas quickly becomes something everyone wishes would disappear.

Except for squirrels and other insect eaters, that is. Squirrels no doubt woke up after cicadas started clawing their way to the surface filled with surprise and joy over their impending feast.

single squirrel sitting on a tree

Squirrels Go Nuts for Cicadas

Squirrels love nuts, that’s for certain. They can be found all year dancing around acorn trees, collecting the precious nuts for the winter. Open up any one of those trees, and you’re likely to find quite an impressive stockpile of acorns.

But squirrels don’t only eat nuts. Yes, they pretty much love to snack on any seed or nut you can think of, but their diets are much more diverse than that. Squirrels will eat things like:

  • Oats
  • Cereals
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruit
  • Bird eggs
  • Vegetables

These are just some of the things they eat. People all over the world go outside to find squirrels digging in their trash.

Squirrels are smart, so they will recognize your garbage as an easy, reliable food source, even if it doesn’t have the foods they love to eat the most.

Knowing they’re not exactly discerning eaters makes it easier to understand how squirrels react to cicadas and what you can expect to happen when your yard is filled with these noisy little bugs.

Cicada bug hanging on a leaf with shimmering light on background

Let Nature Do Its Thing

When news of the cicada emergence started flooding the news stations, people began to feel a bit anxious about how so many insects would affect life on the east coast. How will we get rid of them? Who will clean them up?

Cicadas can indeed cause a mess when they come out of hibernation, but that mess isn’t permanent.

Eventually, squirrels and the rest of the cicada predators will do the trick, and you’ll start to see them slowly disappear. Everything from crows and ducks to snakes and other animals will munch on cicadas until they are clear from the streets and off your grass.

The good news is that the cicada phase can be great for local ecosystems. Rodents, birds, frogs, snakes, and other animals will have an abundant food source. Likewise, any dead cicadas will gradually decompose and fill the soil with rich nutrients that feed into a healthy life cycle.

Watch Out for More Animals

A few extra squirrels can be fine and fun to watch but people also wait for the cicadas because they bring birds from all over the region that people don’t normally see.

But what about an explosion in the squirrel and overall rodent population? The number of cicadas could mean fatter, bigger, and stronger small animals running around your property.

No big deal, maybe, if it’s a fuzzy squirrel in a tree, but what if it is rats running around in your garden or digging around in your trash?

Local government officials, anticipating the potential rapid increase in animal populations from cicada feeding, are warning people to make sure that their garbage cans are secure and to avoid leaving things outside that could fall victim to any sort of rodent infestation.

At the end of the day, cicada swarms like this only come by once every 17 years. That’s only a few times in a lifetime, and, while it can be annoying, will pass.

If you can, let nature do its job and soon enough you see the cicada population start to dwindle thanks to squirrels and many other hungry animals.


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