How to Use Cicadas for Compost


Periodical cicadas visit some regions of the world every 13 or 17 years. They descend on crops, darken the sky with their numbers and can look more like a biblical plague than a swarm. Meanwhile, annual cicadas show up each year in some places. But cicadas, while frustrating, can benefit farmers and the landscape. Once the cicadas die, they can be collected and added to your compost pile to provide a nitrogen-rich or "green" source of nutrients.

Step 1

Add the cicadas to your compost bin. If possible, collect them, spread them out and run over them with the lawn mower a few times to grind them into small pieces that will compost more quickly.

Step 2

Add twice the amount, by volume, of brown, carbon-rich material to your compost pile, like dried leaves or straw. To compost effectively, compost piles need roughly a 1-to-2 ratio of nitrogen-rich "green" material to carbon-rich "brown" material, thus one-third green. For a more complete list of brown and green compost material, see the resources section below.

Step 3

Add a few handfuls of garden soil to the pile to add the microorganisms responsible for breaking down compost into rich, brown humus.

Step 4

Use a shovel to turn the pile to thoroughly mix its ingredients.

Step 5

Turn your pile once weekly until its contents turn into humus.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost bin
  • Green compost material
  • Brown compost material
  • Shovel
  • Garden soil


  • Univeristy of Connecticut: Cicada Central
  • MSNBC: In Death, Cicadas Boost Plant Life
  • Compost Council of Canada: At Home with Composting

Who Can Help

  • Green and Brown Compost Material
Keywords: compost cicadas, cicadas as compost, green compost, brown compost

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.