FAQ’s Explained: Can I compost cicadas?

By: Sara Mack, Marketing Manager

As you probably know, the Brood X cicadas are on the way — maybe they’re already popping up in your neighborhood and backyard! 

With the entire Mid-Atlantic region holding its breath in anticipation of the 17 year cicadas that are expected to swarm any day now, we’ve been thinking about what will become of all of the cicada “waste” (shells and carcasses) once they arrive. We also know we aren’t the only ones thinking about this — one of our residential subscribers asked a few weeks ago if we accept cicadas in our compost buckets. The answer is absolutely yes! 

Cicadas, much like the majority of the organic waste that we accept in our Compost Crew bins, are considered to be a “green” material for our compost piles. Other examples of green materials include fruits and veggies. In contrast, “browns” are also important in compost piles to balance out the high levels of nitrogen present in the “greens”, and they include carbon-rich materials such as dried leaves and cardboard. 

Cicadas are absolutely compostable, but there may be other ways to keep them from going to waste as well — we’ve been loving the cicada-focused recipes have been circulating online recently as another option. Brood X has been underground for the past 17 years, so if you’ve been waiting to try a delicacy a la cicada don’t miss your chance to try them before they disappear until 2038. 

Whether you’re planning to fry them for a salty snack or dip them in chocolate for a crunchy dessert, eating insects like cicadas is actually a more sustainable choice when it comes to meat consumption than most other popular animal-derived protein options.  Because cicadas don’t require any specialized land or resources, they don’t contribute to many of the problems perpetuated by factory farming such as soil degradation, deforestation, or methane production. Even though insects aren’t exactly a mainstream dish in most parts of America, they’re enjoyed in many cultures around the world, and they could be the perfect seasonal addition to your menu this summer. 

If you end up composting cicadas, or trying out a cicada-based recipe, be sure to tag us in the pictures! We’re thrilled to brainstorm ways to reduce waste being sent to landfills, even in situations as unconventional as a cicada swarm.