Giant cicada wants to be friends

This is, to put it mildly, a much larger cicada than I am accustomed to. Most likely, judging from the video and Wikipedia, you're looking at a Malaysian Empress Cicada—a species that can have a wingspan of 8 inches.

Apparently, they (and other species of cicada) make a delightful, low-fat snack.

Cicadas spend most of their lives underground sucking sap from tree roots. The plant-based diet gives them a green, asparagus-like flavor, especially when eaten raw or boiled, according to Kritsky.

Aspiring cicada gourmands should begin by collecting the raw ingredients.

The insects are best eaten just after the nymphs break open their skins but before their exoskeletons turn black and hard, cicada aficionados say. These newly hatched cicadas are called tenerals.

If tenerals are unavailable, the next best menu item is adult females—their bellies are fat and full of nutritious eggs.

Video Link

Thanks, Antinous!


  1. “The plant-based diet gives them a green, asparagus-like flavor…”

    Which one notices immediately within the 1/500th of a second between the bug touching one’s tongue, to one’s primal instincts kicking in, spitting it out and one runs to find a dry towel to rub obsessively on their tongue until the taste is gone and/or blood from the tongue appears from excessive rubbing. Within a few minutes one might start to look at their companions differently and even utter “How the @$%# do I even know you??!?!” before the door slams, feet run down the staircase and one gets into one’s car, hits the gas and drives in any direction to get as far away from said location as possible.

  2. It’s certainly big, but only about twice the size of the largest cicadas I saw back during the cicada cycle in the 80s. Hate to be cleaning one of those off the windshield.

  3. Did anyone else immediately think of the film “Mimic”? Especially at the 0:13 mark? Did anyone else get at least slightly freaked out at that point? 

  4. I think it is interesting that many people who have no problems eating shrimp and other crustaceans still recoil in horror at the thought of eating insects.

    1. Oh man, me too! The periodical cicada is such a crazy wonderful thing. I have a few friends who are post-’04 transplants to the area and they don’t believe me. “Yeah, yeah,” they say, “but cicadas happen every year, and they’re loud and stuff…” “NO! You don’t understand,” I say, “BILLIONS of them!”

      1. If you live in Maryland, take them around North Charles street up near Towson or any part of Patapsco State Park.  They won’t be able to hear themselves think.  Heh.

  5. Remember, unless you’re eating Cicadas within a minute or two of their emergence, you should trim their wings before eating them.

    My favorite preparation has always been Tempura Battered & Fried, then drained & topped with Powdered Sugar.

  6. Really, why do you eat shrimp (Chinese restaurants serve them deep-fried with the heads on), crabs, and lobsters? They’re also members of the phylum Arthropoda, and much larger!

  7. And to start, may I suggest the Tenerels; lightly steamed, quick dipped in our signature batter and crisped in quick deep saute’, with a decoration of ginger cinnamon must sauce?
    Yeah, sure. Sounds good.

  8. Around here we just went through our 13 year cycle this spring – there’s a newly-landed immigrant community of Karen from Myanmar that had an absolute field-day with the cicada emergence. Flash fried, crispy like popcorn shrimp, and nowhere near as disgusting as people might think.

  9. These cicadas littered the streets of Bintulu, Malaysia when I lived there. As far as I was concerned, catching one of the big black adults made for a banner day — and, yes, the locals would catch the green ones, strip the wings off, and eat them raw. (I was only 11, and not brave enough to try.) They would fall into the pool and float for hours, croaking that unmistakable croak, making it sound from blocks away like a flock of ducks had taken over the pool. If one flew into the side of your head, it was like being hit by a golf ball. And they had an unerring knack for flying up beneath my mom’s skirt — which was hilarious, to little pubescent me.

  10. To answer those queries about why shrimp are appealing while cicadas are not, the answer is rather simple. Cicadas look like overgrown, croaking horseflies. If you like the idea of shoveling big spoonfuls of crunchy, juicy horseflies into your gob, then I guess jumbo horseflies must sound mouth-watering.

    I’ll stick with shrimp. They don’t look like anything nasty, they’re easy to clean and cook and they taste wonderful. If you want to eat roaches, flies, spiders, crickets, ants, centipedes and beetles, well… good luck with your eHarmony ad.

    1. Dude, it’s cultural! To me, anything peanut butter & jelly is one of the grossest things ever concocted by humans, probably because I wasn’t raised on it.

      (Also, shrimp look like fat, slimy worms. Beats me why they would be inherently less disgusting.)

  11. Am I the first to request a unicorn chaser for this post?

    I don’t know what I was expecting, but the title misled me into believing this would be more in the “cute/amusing” category, most likely of the animation genre.

    1. Yeah, it’s the Disney-esque “wants-to-be-friends” that has you picturing puppies and Bambi or maybe a friendly pony.

      I watched the whole video, but as for me, I much prefer the legless creatures in the previous post. Too many legs is worse than not enough, IMHO.

  12. got to wonder what the period is on a bug that big.  That thing may be older than the person holding it.

  13. My first summer in Japan (June 2003) was a Cicada Summer. We lived near Anjinzuka (the shrine named after the guy SHO’GUN was (VERY loosely) based on) and for about a month or so, we had to raise our voices over those critters, there were so many and they were so loud.

  14. Cicadas make noise and have charm.  Other than that they are winged bags of guts.  Shrimp have no charm, but do have fleshy, substantial innards.

    1. Strictly less than two?  So bipeds are on the menu, eh?

      In the words of John Paul Ziller, “Protein is where you find it.”

  15. If I had tiny tiny hands, I’d make youtube videos with normal sized insects and freak out the populace. 

  16. I feel like Bill the Cat after seeing that.  AND, I blame cicadas (or their “song” at least) for intolerable August heat.

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