Eating Insects

Almost every time I mention eating insects somebody goes eek I won’t eat them.  Well the first thing I have to tell you is that you eat insects almost everyday. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has an allowable limit on the amounts of insect material that can be in your food.  See the following chart.

Are Bugs A Part of Your Diet?
Product Action Level
Apple butter 5 insects per 100g
Berries 4 larvae per 500g OR 10 whole insects per 500g
Ground paprika 75 insect fragments per 25g
Chocolate 80 microscopic insect fragments per 100g
Canned sweet corn 2 3mm-length larvae, cast skins or fragments
Cornmeal 1 insect per 50g
Canned mushrooms 20 maggots per 100g
Peanut butter 60 fragments per 100g (136 per lb)
Tomato paste, pizza, and other sauces 30 eggs per 100g OR 2 maggots per 100g
Wheat flour 75 insect fragmnets per 50g
Source: The Food Defect Action Levels: Current Levels for Natural or Unavoidable Defects for Human Use that Present No Health Hazard. Department of Health & Human Services 1989.

Now that I have upset a few people, let’s talk about eating insects.  First of all, most insects are safe to eat. However there is a few that are poisonous.  I will tell you the same thing I have told you about wild plants, find a book and an expert that covers your area. Where I live I have been able to find a very good book on the survival skills of the California Indians that covers both plants and insects. You can spend a lifetime learning about all the different insect species.  There is more information than it is possible to cover in detail in posts.  However I can give you some basic information and point you in the right direction.
Insects are very rich in fat and protein. While many insects may be eaten raw, they are best cooked.  Ants should be cooked to remove the toxins.   With larger insects, remove the wings and legs so the sharp spines on the legs don’t injure your throat, or cause you to choke while swallowing.

Insects can be found under rocks, inside dead logs, in anthills, almost anywhere. Be careful when looking for insects, because snakes, scorpions and other biting or stinging critters like the same places. Avoid any insects that are found in animal carcasses, dung, or trash. They may carry diseases or parasites.

The following is a list of some common insects that can be eaten.

  • Agave worms
  • Ants
  • Bees & bee lava
  • Cicada
  • Cockroach
  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Tomato horn worms
  • Stinkbugs
  • June bugs
  • Locusts
  • Mealworns
  • Scorpion  remove stinger
  • Tarantulas

Now that you know a few of the edible bugs, get a good book, an expert and go out into your yard and hunt for dinner.


3 thoughts on “Eating Insects”

  1. “Insects are very rich in fat and protein.”
    I believe it! The feral cat population hangs out under my porch light at night gobbling beetles, they seem to be surviving on insects and the occasional bird. If push comes to shove I’ll let the cats eat the insects and I’ll eat the cats 😉

  2. Many, many years ago my Dad brought home treats for us – chocolate covered ‘krispies’ and ‘pretzel bites’. After my mother and sisters and I tried them and thought they were sort of cardboardy he told us they were ants and crickets. Never again trusted him again unless we saw a sealed package that was clearly labeled!! Can’t stand the thought of intentionally eating insects but I’ve never been in a situation where my life depended on it.

  3. thank you for the great answers to my questions…i’ve been known to crunch a worm or two from eating apples and peaches straight off the tree…but i have always wondered. of course, a few years ago i had a real hissyfit when i opened a new bag of dogfood for my companions and had a cloud of winged bugs fly up into my face. 🙂

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