Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Entomophagy (Eating Bugs)

He is not looking like such a tasty morsel.

Backyard grassphopper...not for consumption unless you are an expert on edible bugs.
Backyard grassphopper...not for consumption unless you are an expert on edible bugs. | Source

When I was about ten years of age, living in a rural town of Virginia, my cousins made their usual summer visit coming from all corners of the Untied States.. One group of cousins came from California where more exotic foods could be found than the fish and crabs that we found in the waters just outside of our home. My cousin, John, who was in his late twenties came one summer bringing a surprise food. His surprise food was chocolate covered grasshoppers. I admit that I did not have one. Others more adventurous than I was in their eating habits munched away. Perhaps I should have but to this day have never tried them. I ate frog legs once. Does that count? Tasted like chicken, really.

Great source of nutrition

Turning to insects as a source of nutrition would be important for mankind on many levels. A serving of grasshoppers is said to contain and equal amount of protein to the same size portion of ground beef and they contain no unsaturated fat. Not withstanding the nutritional value insects are on the planet in a seemingly inexhaustible supply. We consume unknowingly about eight ounces, one half pound, of bugs per year, and probably more. They are in foods whether we like to believe it or not.

The most important rule of insect eating is not to rush outdoors and collect the insects in your yard. Many of them are poisonous. Unless you are an expert entomologist or an expert in entomology, order your insects from one of the many sources on line (check to make certain they are reliable). You may live in an area where 'home grown" insects are available as well therefore you have a source nearby from which you will be able to purchase your very own dinner preparations.

O My... A Freezer Full of Snacks

Nutritonal
Information
per 100 grams
for various insects
 
 
Insect
Protein g
Fat g
Carbohydrates
Calcium g
Iron
Giant Water Beetle
19.8
8.3
2.1
43.5
13.6
Red Ant
19.9
3.5
2.9
47.8
5.7
Silkworm Pupae
9.6
5.6
2.3
41.7
1.8
Dung Beetle
17.2
4.3
.2
30.9
7.7
Cricket
12.9
5.5
5.1
75.8
9.5
Grasshopper
20.6
6.1
3.9
35.2
5.0
June Beetle
13.4
1.4
2.9
22.6
6.0
Caterpillar
28.2
na
na
na
25.5
Termite
14.2
na
na
na
35.5

Is eating insects new?

. Creative ways to cook and serve insects have existed for thousands of years it is reported by palyvoice.com. Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America are still places on the globe where a serving of insects is readily available.

Further evidence that these critters have been part of the human diet for many years follows. Palyvoice.com continues “Beetle larvae were considered a delicacy for Roman aristocrats, as mentioned in the first century scholar Pliny’s Historia Naturalis. In Aristotle’s fourth century writings, he mentioned the ideal time of the cicada harvest and the best method to cook them. Even the Old Testament mentions the consumption of locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers.”That gives credence to the fact that eating bugs is not new.

The name entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs, has an interesting derivation. Éntomos, or éntomon, from the Greek means insect which in literal translation means cut in two. The second part of the word is derived from phagein meaning to eat. When combined the translation comes to mean insect eating.


What's he doing in this story?

The tiny lizard in nestled in the leaf likes to variety in his diet. He likes some insects and some plant matter in his daily diet.
The tiny lizard in nestled in the leaf likes to variety in his diet. He likes some insects and some plant matter in his daily diet. | Source

Educate yourself about which insects to safely consume

Others have gone on to say that many animals we raise and eat are as damaging to Mother Earth as high fat, high sugar foods are for our bodies. The suggestion being made that we need to begin to change our eating habits before there comes a time when we have no choice about eating insects.

While there are many who tout insect consumption as a wise nutritional choice, Dr. Naheed Ali who specializes n health and nutrition warns that many insects contain viruses or poisons toxic to humans and can be dangerous for human consumption. That is why it is so important to know your source and be aware of whether the insect you are choosing is a wise choice.

Try 'em, you'll like 'em...

Andrew Zimmern is known for his consumption of unusual foods as he travels the planet tasting foods. On the television show, Bizarre Foods, he can be seen dining on many different types of insects. He usual gives a candid review of foods he eats. You can expect him to tell you in his colorful way what the food feels like or tastes like as he is ingesting it.

Zimmern maintains that eating insects is a wise choice. He cites two reasons, 'they are replenishable....and an inexhaustible supply of protein.' As I write this my mind wanders to the question, then why is there famine in areas of our planet? If insects are such a readily available source of protein why are they not being used to feed the starving masses? Perhaps the climate does not allow them to prosper and thrive in some of those areas.There are of course many other possible reasons which could fill another article.

About the bugs

  • Besides being high in protein, there are other benefits.
  • One cup of crickets contain only about 250 calories and six grams of fat. The protein is in the exoskeleton which also is a great source of fiber.
  • Insects are said to have their own unique flavors but are said to taste more like seafood than beef or pork.
  • Stink bugs are a favorite for some. Even though they are aplty name and do stink, , the flavor is akin to kale or cilantro.
  • In Mexico stink bugs are sometimes used to make a spicy sauce
  • In Thailand, giant water bugs are often deep fried
  • In South America, in some places, roasted ants are served instead of popcorn
  • According to the FDA, there are at least 1, 462 known species of edible insects. Wow, some smorgasbord.
  • Small boxes of flavored insects can be quite costly..Amazon has quite a variety of offerings.
  • You can raise your own insects.

Rasing insects: crickets

I will truthfully tell you that I have never raised any insects. I have only read about it. Those who have done so report that raising them is not difficult. It has been my experience that when someone says something is easy that it is usually said by someone who has done whatever it is so many times they have worked out all of the glitches.

At the site listed herein the writers state that raising insects requires only a small amount of space and you often produce much more than you would if raising a different kind of meat.

An explanation is given that is clear, simple, and in great deal as to how to raise several kinds of insects.

Crickets

  • Crickets should be raised in an aquarium as they seem to be little Houdinis escaping with ease.
  • Cover the bottom of the aquarium with putting soil . The eggs the crickets lay will be deposited in the soil.
  • A few egg cartons should be added in as well so they have a spot to perch upon.
  • They need food and water. Moist cotton balls provide water and food scraps and grain will suffice as food.
  • It is recommended that between 50 to 100 be added to begin with. Be sure you place something heavy on the the lid so they do not do their escape artist trick.
  • Remember to mist the soil several times a week and be sure to feed them.
  • If all goes well, harvesting time will occur in a few months.

http://plaza.ufl.edu/maysa/project2/how%20to%20raise%20these%20insects.htm

As for me, I am not superstitious but I think I will stay away from these insects. I love the chirping song they sing.. Chinese and Japanese people for centuries have considered crickets a sign of good luck. One reason is that they are said to stop chirping whenever anyone or anything approaches which offered a kind of protection.

In Colonial times, the American Colonial builders added a cricket to the weather vane at Fanuel Hall in Boston as a symbol of protection. (source: Laura Derrington, ehow contributor)



Raising insects...mealworms

Mealworms seem to be less in need of maintenance than crickets but you must be careful to watch for mold growth. If that occurs you will need to replace the food source.

  • Three large plastic containers with lids are considered good homes for the soon-to-be mealworms.
  • Punch holes in the lids and then line with thin net or cheesecloth to help prvent any build up of moisture
  • Food sources can be: oatmeal, wheat germ or powdered milk, and brewer's yeast.The Brewer's yeast is very important as it provides the proteins the mealworms need for growth. Health food stores are a good place to find it.
  • A source of water can be supplied by: apples, potatoes, lettuce, carrots. Replace as cited earlier if mold growth is observed.
  • Now it is time to add about 60 larvae.
  • When the first pupae appear, move them to the second container so the larvae do not dine on them.
  • Once the pupae become adults move them away as you did previously.
  • Put food and water in third container and place the adults there. After two or three days they will mate. The female will then lay about 40 eggs each day. The eggs take about 2 weeks to hatch.Adults meet their demise after about two months.


Recipes

One way to cook and serve mealworms is to cook them on a low flame with hot oil for two to three minutes. The best way to eat them is heat first or tail first and cover your eyes the first time you eat one, states Tom Turpin who is professor of entomology at Purdue University.

  • "Edible Insects...It's What's for Dinner, an article that discuses types of insects that are eaten and provide protein for nourishment is interesting and informative. You will find this article right here on HubPages. Definite advantages for consuming our buggy inhabitants of the planet are pointed out. This practice is made to sound quite tempting. Read all about it at the following link.

http://somethgblue.hubpages.com/hub/Insects-Its-Whats-For-Dinner

  • Wax moth larvae come from the bee moth. their body is soft and they make an unexpected addition to trail mix. they require a little preparation as they are shipped in sawdust and their tiny little bodies are covered in it when they arrive. Mr. Turpin suggests placing them on a table, shining a light on them,a nd they will crawl away from the light shedding the sawdust. These are soft worms so when they are cooked they shrink . Their flavor is sweet because they feed on the honeybee wax.
  • brown house crickets can be prepared several ways:
  • dry roasted
  • 'shucked' which means removal of wings and legs
  • placed on a toothpick and given a chocolate bath

Mr. Turpin adds that a favorite way to enjoy this insect is to use half crickets and half chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie recipe. He of course calls them Chocolate Chripy Chip Cookies.

" These cookies cannot be compared to something else you know.They taste like cricket,' he adds. (The source for this quote is no longer available.)

Insects taste like

insect
what it tastes like
scientific name
scorpions
nutty flavor/crsipy shirmp with shell
Pandinus imperator
grasshoppers
oil cooked in gives it flavor
Caelifera
ants
lemon or vinegar flavor
(Black carpenter) Camponotus pennsylvanicus
cockroaches
chicken
Periplaneta americana
mealyworms
pecans
Tenebrio molitor
tarantula
fried seafood, especially soft shelled crabs, fried
Theraphosidae; most common in the U.S. is the Eurypelma californicus
It seems that each insect has a flavor determined by the tastebuds of the connoisseur who is dining on it.

If butterflies are on the menu, I will NOT be having one...

Source

Flavors

Describing what the bug you are about to eat or have eaten does not seem to be an easy task. In general it seems that many of the insects pick up the flavor of the oil in which they are cooked. If for example shrimp are deep fried in the oil you cook them in, they will have a shrimpy flavor.

Others say that they only eat theirs dipped in chocolate so never really taste the insect. There were those who did state that the cockroach tastes like chicken. Imagining is as close as I will ever get to knowing about that flavor for sure.

Answers.com, examiner.com, chineseop.com were the main sources for the information in the table.


"She's got a camera. Run, for your lives!"

All of the ants went underground when I showed up. And, I wasn't even planning to eat them. I just wanted a photo.
All of the ants went underground when I showed up. And, I wasn't even planning to eat them. I just wanted a photo. | Source

Where to buy some edible insects

  • Rainbow Mealworms 126 East Spruce Street Compton, California 90220 (310) 635 1494
  • Fluker's Farms 1333 Plantation Avenue Port Allen Louisiana 70767 (225) 343 7035

There is much more to learn on this topic. Maybe you will have time to explore for yourself.

Some more interesting edible insects are:

  1. Rhino beetle
  2. silkworm
  3. wasp
  4. midge fly
  5. tarantula
  6. termite
  7. cockroach
  8. scorpion
  9. cicada
  10. louse
  11. honeypot ant
  12. carpenter ant
  13. leaf cutter ant
  14. walking stick
  15. millipede

Perhaps one day I will read a recipe you have submitted using one of these critters. Baked tarantula, anyone?

More by this Author


Comments 20 comments

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida Author

Yeah, me, too, poetryman...and the operative word would be 'almost.' I do not wish to dine on the critters that I see roaming around outside. I suppose though if the U.N. wants me to maybe I should consider it....Okay, I considered it...and it's still NO thank you

Know that Angels are on the way to you this afternoon. ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida Author

No Mary...please do not invite me over for some insect appetizers....I just can't, like you say. I guess they are just lovely if you are in to them but not thanks.

Thanks for stopping to read...Angels are once again on the way ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida Author

I know, AuFait. I will leave all the little critters for others to munch on. I will share nicely. I just cannot imagine pulling a crunchy little leg out from between my teeth..eeeewww.

Thanks for visiting.

Angels are on the way to you this morning...hoping all is well in your little corner of the planet ps


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York

Patricia you have covered this topic so well. Lots of information on eating insects. However, no way...I just can't. Years ago my sister-in-law brought us a box of chocolate covered ants, bees, and crickets. My father was the only one to try them.

Well done Pat. I can't believe you have shy ants LOL.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 20 months ago

The United Nations wants you to eat more bugs. Do you really need more reasons than that?

I am almost sad that I cannot safely pop anything that moves in my garden into my mouth. Almost.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas

I've eaten ants that got into the chocolate cake. Burrowed in, and they tasted a little like a sour dill pickle. Have never intentionally eaten any bugs. Have observed others doing so and it was disgusting. Luckily I'm not squeamish. I know it's all in our societal training. I've no doubt they're packed with nutrients, but I just think I'll pass for now . . .

Pinned to Awesome Hubpages, shared with followers, and voted up and interesting.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi loveofnight

You know you have a point. They probably are pretty healthy if they haven't been sprayed with some spray in our homes or yards. Still I think I would have to be really hungry to munch on some of these.

Thanks for stopping by..

Sending you Angels this evening of the 25th day of our new year. :) ps


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi loveofnight

You know you have a point. They probably are pretty healthy if they haven't been sprayed with some spray in our homes or yards. Still I think I would have to be really hungry to munch on some of these.

Thanks for stopping by..

Sending you Angels this evening of the 25th day of our new year. :) ps


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 3 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

You have done a thorough job with this hub. It truly has been a good read. I would love to have tried a few bugs. The way I see it, they not only out-number us but they have not been chemically treated like meat so in some twisted way I see them as safe.Thanks for the share


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

O, my Steph, I know. I am not a big fan of dining on insects either but some do and I thought it would be interesting to share the info with others. Although maybe a few on top of a salad instead of bacon might be good, What do you think???


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

O, my Steph, I know. I am not a big fan of dining on insects either but some do and I thought it would be interesting to share the info with others. Although maybe a few on top of a salad instead of bacon might be good, What do you think???


Steph72 profile image

Steph72 4 years ago from Sunny Fl

k mmm so wt happened to the good receipes ... no thanks LOL keep the bugs i will take the chicken soup .. interesting hub ty


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

vespawwoolf... That sounds like a tasty morsel that some may enjoy. I am like you, vepawoolf, I cannot dine on critters that look like the ones that hop around on my plants. I love shrimp but a shrimp flavored bug??? Not so much.

Thank you for stopping by again...and happy snacking. :)


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

In the jungle of Peru, an edible grub called suri is often enjoyed. They say it tastes like shrimp, but I couldn't bring myself to try them. My adventurous side is stifled by the sight of insects on the plate. For some reason, I love lobster. Goes to show a lot of our food tastes are influenced by upbringing. Your photos captions crack me up! I was shocked that Amazon offers insect snacks. Great hub! Voted up and shared.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Chris...You will need to visit again after you have tasted them. It would be interesting to hear what you think of them. You are a braver person than I am when it comes to venturing into new culinary delites..


Chris 4 years ago

I bought some bars off their kickstarter page (should be arriving soon!) -- they say they will be selling them online in August.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Chris...hi, I did go to the site. It sounds like they are trying to save the planet in more ways than one. Cricket flour? I had no idea. How long will it be before we can buy a bag of it at our local grocery store? Thanks for stopping by.


Chris 4 years ago

Check these guys out too! Cricket energy bars:

www.chapul.com


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

mechesier...thanks for the vote . I found this very interesting to discover as I read about the different insects that are edible. There is so much more to discover. I will be over to visit soon. Thank you for stopping by.


mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago

Very interesting Hub. Enjoyed reading. Great pics and info. Voted up for interesting.

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