Trillions of Brood X cicadas have emerged in eastern states after 17 years underground—and while the insects are being praised as a tasty low-fat food source, the Food and Drug Administration has sounded a note of caution. "Yep! We have to say it! Don't eat cicadas if you're allergic to seafood as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters," the FDA tweeted Wednesday. United Nations researchers recently warned that people allergic to crustaceans are "particularly vulnerable to developing allergic reactions to edible insects, due to allergen cross-reactivity," reports NBC.
David Stukus, a member of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s Medical Scientific Council, tells the Washington Post that people with seafood allergies would be wise to take a better-safe-than-sorry-approach. "There’s no good clinical research evaluating the risk of ingesting cicadas for people with shellfish allergies, so we are extrapolating," he says. Stukus says the allergic reaction to shellfish is triggered by the ingestion of a muscle protein and there is no danger of a reaction if people just handle the insects or their skeletons. The Post notes that chefs have been sharing recipes for cicada cookies, cicada sushi, cicada tacos—and, for the first time, cicadas cooked in air fryers. (Read more cicadas stories.)