If you’re allergic to seafood and about to chow down on some juicy cicadas then please put that damn bug down. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) felt compelled to urge snack-curious Americans this week to be mindful about utilizing the fleetingly abundant food source, owing to the fact that cicadas are related to shrimp and therefore likely to trigger an unpleasant reaction in people with seafood allergies.
"We have to say it," tweeted the FDA. "Don't eat #cicadas if you're allergic to seafood as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters."
When it comes to shellfish, crustaceans are the usual suspects for triggering an allergic reaction. A reaction can present with anything from vomiting and diarrhea to shortness of breath and hives, so is not something you want to volunteer for. If you’re allergic to seafood, avoiding these symptoms means skipping on cicadas, as well as crustaceans, as these geographically distant animals are in fact related.
The relation is apparently reflected in the cicadas’ flavor, which was reported by The Atlantic to be shrimp-like, and best served air-fried. Ambitious restaurants are serving up the abundant protein source grilled, roasted, and even chocolate-coated — the taste buds tremble!
When not being served up on a platter, Brood X has enjoyed quite the party in 2021, having been rustling up from the ground since May after a 17-year siesta underground. They arrived in their billions and, as we so often do, humans began to see tiny, winged snacks instead of insects. In a world where sustainability is more important than ever, it figures that we should monopolize on such an opportunity, but no flavor is quite so bitter as that of anaphylaxis.
Unfortunately for the cicadas, the party was crashed by a less than desirable attendee. The culprit: Massospora cicadina, a well-known fungus among the scientific community, which spreads from cicada to cicada via sexual contact. The symptoms turn the cicadas into what scientists have termed “flying salt shakers of death” owing to the fact that it turns their butts to infectious dust.
It’s thought that the emergence of a cocaine-like substance enables the cicadas to keep getting their freak on despite riding butt-less, enabling them to coat fellow cicadas in the deadly dust.
A bum deal all round, then, but at least you don’t end up air fried, grilled, or covered in chocolate.