What Do Cicadas Eat

Discover what cicadas eat and how their diet affects the ecosystem. Find out how these insects feed on plant sap, xylem, phloem, and tree roots to survive and thrive in their environments.


Cicadas are known for their loud buzzing sounds during the summer months, but many people are curious about what these insects actually eat. In this article, we will explore the diet of cicadas and how they sustain themselves throughout their short lives.

Plant Sap:

One of the main sources of food for cicadas is plant sap. These insects have a specialized feeding structure called a proboscis, which they use to pierce plant tissues and suck out the sap. This sap provides cicadas with the nutrients and energy they need to survive.

Xylem and Phloem:

Cicadas are known to feed on xylem and phloem, which are the two main types of plant fluids. Xylem carries water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves, while phloem transports sugars and other organic compounds throughout the plant. By feeding on these fluids, cicadas are able to obtain a well-rounded diet.

Tree Roots:

In addition to feeding on plant fluids, cicadas also consume tree roots. These insects have strong piercing and sucking mouthparts that allow them to extract nutrients from the roots of trees. By feeding on tree roots, cicadas are able to access additional nutrients that may not be present in plant sap alone.

Case Studies:

Researchers have conducted studies on the diet of cicadas in different regions. In one study, scientists found that cicadas in certain areas prefer to feed on specific types of plants, indicating a level of dietary specialization. This research helps us understand the ecological role of cicadas in their respective environments.


According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cicadas are considered pests in some agricultural areas because they can cause damage to crops by feeding on plant tissues. In these cases, cicadas may need to be controlled to prevent significant losses in crop yields.


While cicadas are best known for their distinctive sounds, their diet plays a crucial role in their survival and impact on the ecosystem. By feeding on plant sap, xylem, phloem, and tree roots, cicadas are able to sustain themselves and contribute to the biodiversity of their habitats.

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