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Healthy Cicada Snacks? Why Not!

How could these pests actually be an asset?

When it comes to eating right and staying fit, resourcefulness is a great asset.  For example, when traveling, you can use canned goods instead of weights for resistance exercise.

After several recent pseudo-attacks from swarms of cicadas, as well as the disconcerting crunch of their carcasses everywhere I walk lately, I decided to think of some ways to make these pests a positive asset, too.

Cicadas, or Magicicada septendecim, use an overwhelming hum to attract their mates, as anyone driving down Highway 141 around rush hour recently has heard. According to National Geographic, periodical cicadas like those around this summer don’t cause plagues, but they are less than pleasant.

This round of periodical cicadas comes out every 13 years en force to assure that some of the creatures will make it to mating. They are only around for 4 to 6 weeks, but that is long enough for me to have pondered how they could help rather than hinder.

I once interned at the  and I remember packets of crickets being sold as snacks. Then I heard a story of a Columbia, MO, ice cream shop creating and selling a cicada ice cream.

I also vaguely recalled bugs being a source of protein from some survival show, so I checked in with the experts at the Butterfly House.

“Insects are wonderful sources of protein," Mark Deering, acting director of the Butterfly House told me. "This alone might make them a good candidate for a snack, but add in that they taste great (if cooked well) and you have a win-win combination."

So how would one eat cicadas? Deering suggests humanely freezing them, and then tossing them in light oil with a dash of seasoning for a crunchy, nutty-tasting treat. Legs and wings don’t need to be removed, but make sure to rinse the insects well.

The Columbia Missourian also did a recent article on several healthy recipes for our winged friends.

Deering did warn, however, that the insects shells contain chitin, which is similar to that of shellfish.

“If someone has a shellfish allergy, I would suggest staying away from insects."

Other ways to use cicadas for health and fitness?

  • Take cicada shells and string together with sturdy fiber for an all-natural jump rope.
  • Spell out health public service announcements on sidewalks with cicada bodies, such as “Brush your teeth!”
  • Create a cicada “maze” out of shells and practice navigating.
  • Gather several live cicadas and put a jar next to your child or spouse’s ear to motivate them to wake up early—or just to test your son or daughter's mettle.
  • Shepherd swarms of cicadas in trees outlining “easy” walking routes around your work campus or the parking lot. Your co-workers will thank you!
  • Increase speed and agility by setting up a pattern with cicada shells and crunching them, hopscotch style. You could even using a stopwatch to time yourself!
  • Get a cage full of cicadas to keep in your living room to drown out your children’s favorite TV shows so they play outside.
  • Leave live cicadas in the pantry where you store your junk food so you’ll think twice about whether you really want that cupcake.

Disclaimer: The suggestions were made with a bit of humor. Please use cicadas responsibly.

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