Bugs & Insects As Food

Bugs & Insects As Food
Eating insects strikes most westerners as being limited strictly to the French with their chocolate-covered ants. However, some cultures view dealing with an insect pest problem and putting food on the table as killing two birds with one stone, while others treat insects as tasty snacks. As a survival food, insects are usually rich in protein and easy to collect, so being able to identify the edible bugs is a handy bit of knowledge for an outdoorsman.

Bugs as Cuisine

Bugs are often treated as snack food in Southeast Asia. Barbecued grasshoppers are common in places like Laos and Thailand, while deep-fried spiders are the preferred bug food of Cambodia. In parts of Africa, mopani worms are frequently eaten raw, fried or stewed.

Grasshoppers and Crickets

These two critters are popular as insect food around the world, and there are a wide variety of ethnic recipes for them. The simplest thing to do is to put them on a skewer and roast them over an open fire. A more elaborate way to prepare them is to boil them, roll them in liquid scrambled egg, batter them in seasoned flour and cornmeal, and deep-fry them. The wings and stems should always be removed, since they have no real nutritional value and sometimes have spines. However they are cooked, grasshoppers and crickets are easy to find and have a crunchy texture that make them one of the best sources of insect food.


Accounts of sailors and Civil War soldiers eating the weevils in their hardtack biscuits are the gruesome stuff of history. As unpleasant as it is to think about, they are safe to eat and a good source of protein, although not very palatable.


The Thais love eating beetles. Long horn beetles and mealworm beetles are only two examples of edible insects of this type. The main issue with beetles is that some species have irritating poisons. None in North America can cause serious harm, but some certainly are pungent enough that no one would ever want to eat them by accident. These are the Carabidae (ground beetles), Meloidae (blister beetles) and Coccinellidae (the common ladybug). It is normal to remove the wings, legs and heads from the beetles before eating them. Like the grasshoppers, these are hard, have little or no nutritional value and are often equipped with spines or spikes.

Ants and Termites

As very common and easily found insects, ants are also easily eaten. Giant leaf-cutter ants have not only been coated in chocolate as a treat, but there are even toasted ants of this kind being sold in the west as a bagged snack akin to corn chips. The main problem with ants is that, like beetles, some carry irritating poisons. Stinging ants like fire ants should be avoided.

Termites are popular with primates of all stripes (monkeys, apes and humans) in tropical jungle regions, and require no preparation. They can be picked right off the mound and eaten.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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