In Western Cultures we have created a stigma about eating insects; however over 80% of the world eats bugs as a part of their daily diet. They in fact are super foods. We have labeled them as disgusting, yuck, and gross, but in reality they can be quite delicious. They are packed with nutrients, and when it comes to protein, many insects have more grams of protein than beef.
Most people see insects as pest or even dangerous. It is true that numerous bugs have parasites, bacteria, and in some cases they can carry disease, but if cooked properly there is almost 0% chance of those dangers transferring to humans. In this post I want to share some things to consider when eating bugs.
Bugs to Avoid:
Bright Colored Bugs – “Red and Yellow kill a Fellow, Green and Brown eat em’ down.”
Known Venomous Insects
Insects that carry disease: Ticks, Mosquitoes, Leaches, etc.
Centipedes and Millipedes
Bugs that look sickly or ill. (Example: parasite coming out of side)
Abnormal bugs. When in doubt, don’t eat it.
Common Edible Bugs:
- Flies / Butterflies / Moths
The main concern with flies is they tend to feed off of dead carcasses and can carry hundreds of pathogens. It is best to look for their larva, and thoroughly cook those once you have washed them. Butterflies and Moths on the other hand are much cleaner and make a great roasted snack. Butterfly and Moth larva are a delicacy in many countries.
- Worms / Grubs
Many worms and grubs can be eaten raw, but I rarely ever recommend you eat a bug raw. I prefer to squeeze out any waste in their system, and then roast on a stick, fry, or even boil them. Earthworms and mealworms have a real earthy dirt flavor, where as big grubs can actually have a delicious nutty flavor. Don’t hesitate to eat these creepy crawlies.
- Ants / Termites
Your average ants and termites are the one bug that I am not concerned about eating raw; however bullet ants, fire ants, and other stinging ants should be roasted or fried. This keeps them from stinging you in your mouth or throat. In rare cases anaphylaxis can cause swelling in the throat if stung, causing breathing issues. For the most part I regularly let them climb on a stick, and then eat them off. You can lick your finger which will cause them to stick to it, and eat them that way. These little insencts are packed with tons of nutrients.
- Grass Hoppers / Crickets
When I was a kid I loved catching grasshoppers. Not so much fun when you haven’t eaten in a couple days, and are trying to get your hands on one. The best way to procure jumping or flying insects is to create a swatter. Usually I just get a stick with some branches on the end. You have to find a good balance, because if there are too many branches it will slow down your swatter.
Once you catch them, the best thing to do is remove the head and pull out the entrails. From there remove the any sharp wings or lower legs that might stab you or get stuck in your throat. My favorite way to cook these delicious hoppers is to skewer them on a long thin stick (spice bush works great), and then roast over a camp fire. This is a fun insect to get your kids started with.
- Beetles / Water Bugs / Cockroaches
I think out of all the bugs I have ever eaten, beetles and cockroaches have always been the hardest for me. They taste pretty good, but they have strong skeletal structure making them crunchy, and just the thought of eating a roach is a little mind blowing. They are one of the few creatures to survive and thrive after being exposed to nuclear matter. Never the less cook thoroughly, and you are good to go. Another fun fact: Cockroaches are the fastest insect on foot. Because of this it is better to try and trap instead of catch.
Fun Bug Collection Items to Use with Your Kids:
There are numerous other edible bugs, over 1500 recorded species to be more exact, which include spiders, scorpions, slugs, bees, wasp, and dragonflies. I personally choose to only eat bugs that aren’t as likely to cause me harm. Remember to use safe food handling practices and wash your hands regularly while handling these injects.
*Caution: Never Eat any insects that you are not able to properly identify as edible. Also, if you have any food allergies, do not any insect.
Show your support, share, and shop the provided links. Looking for more interesting edible bugs read the article from Primal Survival – Guide to Eating Bugs. If you are really interested in learning more, research entomophagy or entomology.
Thanks for Reading!
Justin “Sage” Williams
Director / Lead Instructor
Sigma 3 Survival School