A Guide to Edible Insects Around the World

We’ve all been there: there’s something ugly with lots of legs, it’s in your house, and you want it gone. Most people would understand the impulse for pest management; most, but not all. Before you get rid of it, you might want to check and see if you have anything for dinner tonight while also considering the kind of ceramic cookware you need for your food preparation.

That’s right; you can eat bugs. Not all bugs, obviously. But there are places around the globe where specific bugs are considered delicacies.

There are even places right here in the US where they are known to eat certain pests as a novelty.

Some bugs aren’t simply delicacies or interesting conversation-starters; there are insects that are actually good for you.

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Check our list to see if your critter infestation comes with a silver lining.

Ants

Let’s begin with the humble ant. Ants are a common pest and a serious nuisance during picnics.

Edible ant species include common varieties like carpenter, leaf-cutter, lemon, and honeypot ants. People are known to grab a handful and snack on them like popcorn.

What about the taste? You can make ants a savory snack and leverage the vinegary tasting acid ants release when they feel threatened. Others prefer to boil the ants to dispel the vinegar flavor.

For a sweet treat, you can seek out chocolate-covered ants. Whatever flavor profile you go for, ants are a good source of protein and can help with cholesterol levels.

Crickets

Many people resort to pest management when crickets make an appearance in their basements and garages. But how many people consider eating them? They can make for a crunchy taco filling, but there are other ways to prepare them.

One benefit of cricket cuisine is that crickets take on the flavor of their diet, making them a versatile ingredient. As for this insect’s health properties, crickets are better for you than beef. A serving of crickets has less fat and more protein than your typical hamburger patty!

Maggots

Italy is known for its cuisine; when someone mentions Italian food, you likely think of pizza, pasta, and tiramisu. Unless you are familiar with Casu Marzu, you probably don’t think of maggots when the subject arises.

Casu Marzu is a sheep’s milk cheese that includes mashed larvae as part of the fermentation process. Would it help to know it’s usually served as a dessert?

Scorpions

If you ever find a scorpion in your home, there is something important you should know. Before you call your local pest management company, keep in mind that scorpions are a Chinese delicacy. People eat scorpions in a variety of ways, including live.

That’s right. Live scorpions are a delicacy in China.

If you’re curious, you may find it challenging to get your hands on some to try. You could wait for a scorpion infestation at your house, or you could go to a state fair. Scorpions have become a popular menu item at state fairs around the country.

Wasps

Wasps may be one of the most hated pests. Chances are, if you polled your friends and coworkers, wasps would win for “least favorite bug.” Wasps are ugly and dangerous, but there are people who consider wasps a treat.

Japanese supermarkets carry canned wasp larva. Wasp hunting is even a pastime enjoyed by hobbyists.

This side of the Pacific Ocean, no one would blame you for solving a wasp problem the American way.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies are a gentle, harmless insect usually seen hovering over still, peaceful water. The association most of us have with dragonflies is not snack time. You might feel differently if you are from Indonesia.

Comparisons to crab are frequent, so if you enjoy crab, you may want to give fried dragonfly a try. This option could come in particularly handy for people who suffer from shellfish allergies!

Stink Bugs

Mexican food is one of America’s most beloved national cuisines. Who doesn’t love a good taco or enchilada? Next time you’re craving a crunchy Mexican snack, put down the tortilla chips and give stink bugs a try.

Stink bugs, called jumiles, are a popular snack in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Some people enjoy the acquired taste of raw, live stink bugs. Guerrero residents will also toast stink bugs to use as an ingredient in other, more traditional recipes.

Guerrero even hosts an annual stink bug festival. This occasion is held in November, in loose conjunction with Day of the Dead.

Mopane Worm

Unless you are from South Africa, you are unlikely to have had much contact with the mopane worm. Mopane worms are actually the caterpillar form of the emperor moth.

Their diet consists primarily of leaves from the mopane tree, hence the name. Mopane trees are native to parts of Africa and are called butterfly trees because of their butterfly-shaped leaves.

You may come across mopane worms sauteed with garlic and tomatoes, boiled, or even raw.

Spider

This one can freak a lot of people out; arachnophobia (fear of spiders) is a hangup many people share. However, if you ever find yourself in Cambodia, you may be surprised to see fried spiders on the menu.

These aren’t just any spiders, either. These folks are eating deep-fried spiders as a delicacy in Cambodia. If you are interested in new cultures and are feeling brave, try deep-fried a-ping, as it is called in Cambodia.

A Novel Approach to Pest Management

Perhaps Americans should broaden their concept of pest management. It turns out; there are some insect predicaments that you could clear up with a little ketchup.

Before you call an exterminator, you should check to see if your insect invasion is dinner in disguise. When you take a look at what people around the world are having for dinner, you might be surprised. One person’s pest is another person’s delicacy. You could always call an exterminator to deal with a yellowjacket wasp problem, or you could grab a fork!