The global market for edible insects is currently estimated at US$ 3.2 billion and is projected to reach a whopping $9.60 billion by the year 2030, expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 28.3. Read on and check out our edible insects list.
Photo Credit According to the FAO, edible insects are a sustainable alternative to going meatless.
Although the lucrative nature of the insect-eating industry is a big attraction, it is not the only thing that is drawing people in. When compared to raising cattle, insect farming has a lower environmental impact, and insects provide nearly all of the nutritional benefits found in meat, fish, and rye bread – all at once!
Do you know what the best part about eating insects is? There are just so many types of insects out there! Obviously, not everyone will agree on all of them, but once you are open to entomophagy, the sheer diversity of edible insects and their flavors is more than enough to blow your mind.
For instance, some insects, such as ants, have a citrusy flavor, while others, such as mealworms, have a nutty flavor and resemble soft-shell crab or bacon.
Around 2,000 insect species are eaten routinely by humans and domestic animals throughout the world due to their healthy fat, high protein, vitamin, and mineral content.
Furthermore, as consumers seek more sustainable and innovative food items, the market and use of edible bugs have been steadily growing. Entotarianism (those who eat insects but no other meats) is a unique idea that arose as a solution to feeding the world’s predicted 10 billion inhabitants by the year 2050.
Daniel Creedon, David George Gordon, and Peter Gorton are just a few chefs who have dabbled with insect flavors. However, they have only scratched the surface!
So, come along as we explore the world of eating insects.
We will discuss everything from the pros and cons of eating bugs to the types of insects that you can fit into your diet right now. Happy Eating Bugs!
Edible Insects Around The World
Around two billion people around the world regularly consume a wide range of insects, both cooked and uncooked, in their diets. Western countries are the only places in the world where this practice is viewed negatively by the general public.
However, the edible insect market is the world’s fastest-growing alternative protein sector. In the face of climate change, changes in food production systems, and the growth of the conscious consumer, edible bugs may help us feed the world’s rising population.
Currently, more than 2,100 insect species are used as food in some capacity worldwide. Insects can be eaten at any stage of their life cycle, from the eggs to the adults, as well as the larvae, nymphs, pupae, and any stage in between.
Around the world, beetles, caterpillars, and the members of the hive (bees, wasps, and ants) are among the most commonly eaten insects. In addition to that, other insects, such as leafhoppers, mealybugs, grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, cicadas, bedbugs, termites, dragonflies, and flies, are consumed as well.
Also, some parts of the world eat more insects than others, and the West is notably absent from this image. However, they are starting to catch up in the US recently.
I mean, it wasn’t long ago when most Americans considered sushi taboo. Therefore, the consumption of insects is not as outlandish as it may sound.
And just as different nations’ diets vary in the degree to which they include insect use, so do the kinds of insects that are consumed. For example, species of order Coleoptera, i.e., beetles come at the top when it comes to the number of insects that are used as food. After that comes the order Hymenoptera, i.e., sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants.
The below-given pie chart shows the percentage of species consumed per insect order.
Environmental Footprint Of Bugs Vs. Farm Animals
The vast majority of people throughout the world who consume insects do so by gathering them in the wild. However, in order for insects to be a sustainable food source on a larger scale, we need to farm them in an enclosed setting. This results in a higher level of food safety as well as an increase in production efficiency.
This is because, in closed settings, insect diets can be managed.
Insects are widely regarded as a sustainable food source* due to their high nutrient density and low resource demands. Raising insects requires much less space and water than raising cattle, and they produce much fewer greenhouse gasses.
“Sustainable or climate-efficient food source is defined as obtaining the greatest number of calories while using the least amount of land and causing the least harm to the environment.”
Protein-Feed Conversion Efficiency Of Insect Farming
Protein-Feed Conversion Efficiency In Percent
One of the main reasons insects are considered potentially sustainable sources of animal protein is their high protein-feed conversion efficiency.
For instance, mealworms have a protein-feed conversion efficiency of 50 percent, whereas crickets have a protein-feed conversion efficiency of 49 percent.
This is very high compared to the protein-feed conversion efficiencies of chicken, pork, and beef which are 19.6, 8.5, and 3.8 percent, respectively.
Feed-To-Meat Conversion Ratio Of Insect Farming
Food needed (in kg) to produce 1 kg of biomass
Not only do bugs have the highest protein-feed conversion efficiency, but they also have the highest feed-to-meat conversion ratio. The feed-to-meat conversion ratio is defined as how much feed is needed to produce a 1 kg increase in weight.
Since insects can effectively convert food into body mass, they make a very sustainable food source. To put it into perspective, here is some statistical data.
Mealworms only need about 1.8 kilograms of food to produce one kilogram of edible material, while crickets need around 2.1 kilograms of food.
Compared to other animal farm products for human consumption, such as chicken, pork, and beef, it is fantastic as these products need 3.3, 6.4, and 25 kilograms of food, respectively, to produce one kilogram of food for human consumption.
Water Needed To Produce 1 Kg Of Insect Weight
Water Required To Produce 100g of Biomass
You must have heard the news! We are losing out on fresh water resources very rapidly, and as a result, billions of people worldwide will face water shortages in the future.
It is an issue that is getting worse on every continent, and the people that are already struggling the most are the ones that will be hit the hardest. Because of this, we cannot afford to waste water on farming systems that are not sustainable over the long term.
And that is where insect farming comes in.
When compared to livestock, insects require much less water to produce the same quantity of meat and protein. Mealworms and crickets, for example, only require about 43 liters of water to produce 1000 grams of animal weight each.
Whereas chicken, pork, and beef farming need 3400, 5700, and 11200 liters of water, respectively, to produce the same amount of animal weight.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions To Produce 100g Of Insect Weight
Greenhouse Gas Emissions To Produce 100g Of Insect Weight
It is estimated that the production of cattle around the world accounts for 18 percent of all anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses, primarily in the form of methane and nitrous oxide. Therefore, animal agriculture is a significant contributor to the problem of global warming, and we immediately need to find a solution to this problem.
Increasing global temperatures will and can wreak havoc on our Earth, and recent floods in Pakistan are just one example of that. That is where insect farming can help!
Insect farming only releases a fraction of greenhouse gasses while producing the same amount of protein as chicken, pork, and beef farming.
To put things into perspective, here is some data: mealworms only release 2.7 kilograms of CO2 to produce a hundred grams of protein, whereas crickets only release 2.11 kilograms.
This is tiny compared to livestock farming. For instance, chicken, pork, and beef emit 5.7, 7.61, and 49.89 kilograms of carbon dioxide, respectively, to produce 100 grams of protein.
Land Needed To Produce 100g Of Insect Weight
Land Needed To Produce 100g of Biomass ( in square meters)
Agriculture takes up around fifty percent of the world’s arable land. And more than 75% of this is used for livestock production, even though meat accounts for only 20% of the world’s calorie supply. This leaves just 37% of the land for forests, 11% for grasslands, 1% for the coverage of freshwater, and the remaining 1% for human infrastructure.
This won’t work! Why?
The human population is rising rapidly, and humans need land! So, we need to turn over efforts towards more resource-friendly methods of protein farming. This is where insect farming can help. For instance, mealworms use only 1.8 square meters of land to produce 100 grams of protein, whereas crickets only use about 2.7-meter squares.
This is absolutely insignificant when compared to livestock farming.
For example, farming chicken, pork, and beef requires 7.1, 10.7, and 163.6 square meters of land, respectively, to produce 100 grams of edible protein.
Edible Portion Of The Animals | Insect Vs. Livestock
Edible Portion of The Animal Body (%)
As we have seen above, livestock farming is very wasteful and has the potential to create many problems for humans and the environment. Livestock animals have a low Feed-To-Meat Conversion Ratio, low Protein-Feed Conversion Efficiency, high greenhouse gas emission, high water use, and high land use. This situation is made even worse when we look at the part of the livestock body that can be used for human consumption.
In chicken, pork, and beef farming, the edible portion of the animal body only accounts for about 55, 56, and 40 percent of the animal body. Whereas, in insect farming, you can eat whole bugs. For example, 100 percent of mealybugs can be used for human consumption, whereas 80 percent of a cricket’s body is suitable for human use.
Top 50 Edible Insects Worldwide
Here is a list of 50 of the most interesting and delicious bugs you can eat. This compilation is by no means as comprehensive as Jongema’s research, but it ought to be plenty to get you started. In addition, for the sake of this article, I will be referring to arthropods and annelids as “insects” and “bugs.” So, please forgive my generalization.
Anyways, Let’s get started!
Photo Credit “Try one; they’re lovely,” said a cook, Sean Collins.
Since woodlice are crustaceans rather than insects, the phrase “land shrimp,” coined by Florence Dunkel in her 2012 TED talk, applies to them.
When cooked, they turn red, and Edible Bug Farm’s resident survivalist, Raymond Day, claims that they do indeed taste like shrimp. Woodlice have a significant benefit over other insects in that they can almost instantly be consumed after collection. In contrast, some insects need to be put in a plastic bag for 24 hours to empty their guts.
For woodlice, simply place them in boiling water, and they will be ready to eat in no time.
2. Witchetty Grubs
Photo Credit In some cultures, live and uncooked Witchetty grubs are a delicacy.
If you’re hiking through the bush and feel hungry, its meat provides a highly nourishing snack because it is packed in protein. In his book Man Eating Bugs, Peter Menzel compares Witchetty grubs to “nut-flavored scrambled eggs with milk mozzarella cheese, encased in a phyllo dough pastry.” Raw Witchetties have a liquid center and a mildly sweet flavor.
Some claim that a raw Witchetty grub’s liquid center has an almond-like flavor. Witchetty grubs, however, can also be grilled or roasted on hot ashes if the thought of a live insect crawling down your throat repels you or puts you off.
Photo Credit Looking for a bug that tastes like sugar, waxworms have got you covered!
When farmed, they are raised on bran and honey, and according to Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug, they have a flavor somewhere between pine nuts and enoki mushrooms.
Waxworms are the larvae of the wax moth, sometimes known as bee moths because they inhabit beehives and consume nearly everything inside them except adult bees.
Waxworms are destined to become famous as the practice of eating insects continues to gain popularity as they have a sweet flavor that comes from the honey and beeswax they consume. Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and Brazilian cuisine all feature them.
4. Water Scorpions
Photo Credit Water Scorpions taste a bit like pumpkin seeds, although they do have a flavor of their own.
Water scorpions, the first of our true bugs on our list, are not in any way linked to true scorpions other than superficial looks. However, they are fierce ambush predators and will consume anything, including tadpoles and bug larvae that come close.
They are frequently used in Thai cuisines for their distinctive and strong aroma, though they are also grilled and served as snacks locally. They are also offered on the menus of Madagascar, the Congo, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, and Laos.
Simply take off the wings and consume the meat that is on the inside. You can find water scorpions here if you’re interested in eating them.
5. Water Boatman
Photo Credit Some people compare the flavor of water boatmen’s eggs to cheese or caviar.
Although they appear to be beetles, these are a different kind of true bug species that are actually quite common in Mexico. And true to their name, water boatmen are aquatic insects who make their homes in ponds and sluggish moving rivers and streams.
Also, they make up the largest group of true bugs found in aquatic settings. Most water boatmen are vegetarian, which is rare for aquatic bugs. I have no idea what they taste like, but my little pond may one day provide an answer.
Photo Credit Wasps taste meaty and rich, with an almost shrimp-like texture.
Wasps are widely consumed as larvae in China, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If you want to, you can even eat the larvae of wasps. Wasp larvae, often known as grubs, are described as soft, chewy, and creamy.
Wasps, on the other hand, are supposed to have a flavor similar to that of soil and butter, and Emperor Hirohito, who ruled Japan in the early 20th century, reportedly thought that they tasted best when fried with sugar and soy sauce and served with boiling rice.
7. Tiger Beetles
Photo Credit Over 100 tiger beetle species are present throughout North America.
These critters are quite neat if you’re into insects and things like that. One of the most recognizable beetle species is the tiger beetle. The adults are incredibly swift in both the air and on the ground, which is how they got their name.
Even their larvae are predators that hide in their burrows to ambush their prey. They cannot, however, outsmart Mexicans who gather them for the food.
Tiger beetles provide benefits to humans not only in the form of food but also in many other ways as well. For instance, they feed on many crop and garden pests.
Photo Credit Termites have a mild, almost vegetal flavor when cooked, but they taste like pineapple when raw.
Termites contain a substantial amount of protein and, in addition, have a complete profile of the essential amino acids. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that people in Southeast Asia and throughout the African continent consume them.
They are either captured as soon as they emerge from the Earth or swarm in search of mates after they have developed their wings. Following capture, they are either roasted over hot coals or deep-fried in oil, depending on the recipe, and then sold at markets.
The flavor varies; some have a nutty flavor, while others have a minty or carrot-like flavor.
Photo Credit Even though it’s dead, a huge tarantula hanging from your mouth is still horrifying.
Tarantulas are eaten whole and are supposed to taste like soft-shell crab. They are popular in Southeast Asia and are especially significant in the poorest districts of Cambodia.
Tarantulas are often dug up and hunted in these regions to offer a much-required source of protein for people who would otherwise spend their entire lives eating rice.
On street corners all around Cambodia, you can purchase fried tarantulas for ten to twenty cents each. You can learn more about the spider hunters of Cambodia and tarantulas in the BBC documentary by Stefan Gates: Can Eating Insects Save the World?
Superworms are not worms! They share the same family, the Tenebrionidae, as mealworms, which means they are very near relative to these insects.
The flavor is somewhat comparable to mealworms (described below), but I find them slightly less flavorful overall. They are a staple food in many parts of the world, including Mexico and Venezuela. They are a nutritious and vital source of protein.
If you’ve never tried eating insects before, you should begin with this one because it has a flavor similar to that of toasted bread and a satisfying crunch.
11. Stink Bugs
Photo Credit The stink bug’s name comes from the smelly substance it ejects when threatened.
Stink bugs, yet another true bug, are a large group of insects eaten in Southeast Asia, India, South America, and Southern Africa. A group of researchers from Africa conducted a study to determine which nutrients are present in edible insects.
Based on their findings, they advised using stink bugs as an alternative food source to assist meet the dietary needs of an expanding human population.
Their flavor ranges from bitter to somewhat sweet and tart, and they are frequently consumed raw because they have been known to survive the process of cooking!
12. Stick Insects
Photo Credit Most stick insects are brown, but you might also see green, black, gray, or blue ones.
Members of the family Phasmatodea, also known as walking sticks, stick bugs are another group of our true bugs. These incredible insects are difficult to find because they look so much like twigs—that is until those twigs get up and walk away.
They are not commonly consumed and are only primarily consumed in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, possibly because they are supposed to taste something like wood. It is not surprising, though, given what they eat all the time.
13. Stag Beetles
Photo Credit Stag beetles are reddish-brown in color, which helps them blend in.
Stag beetles acquire their name from the mandibles that the males employ to compete with other males for females during the mating season. Adult stag beetles cannot eat; instead, they rely on fat reserves built up during their larval stage for the few weeks they live.
Consequently, hunting adult stag beetles could be a pretty good option if you are looking for some fat. Even though they are Europe’s largest land-dwelling insects, you won’t find them on many menus there. However, you can find them on menus in places such as Japan, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, and Madagascar.
Photo Credit Consuming silkworms is reported to lower blood cholesterol and prevent liver cirrhosis.
Silkworms come from a diverse set of insect families under the Order Lepidoptera, which also includes butterflies and moths. They are a by-product of the silk business and may be found in the street markets of any country that produces silk.
The pupae are the most common form in which they are consumed.
Beondegi is a traditional Korean street snack made from silkworm pupae. The meal is either boiled or steamed and served in paper cups with toothpick skewers. Silkworms are also used in China and Japan; many enjoy them marinated in chili and garlic sauce.
Photo Credit If you want to eat a scorpion, make sure to remove the stinger first.
The scorpion, one of the list’s more frightening edible insects, has a flavor that is somewhat similar to shrimp with a nutty touch. Scorpion meat has more than 50% protein! Some claim that the taste of scorpions is mild, slightly salty, and has a bitter undertone.
Others say they have a taste akin to crickets, and their texture is quite dry and crunchy. Anyone who has spent time in Beijing’s night markets will be familiar with scorpions sold on sticks, particularly the enormous black ones that can cost an unwary tourist too much!
16. Rhinoceros Beetles
Photo Credit Rhinoceros beetle is famous in Thailand, where it is fried and seasoned with soy sauce, lemongrass, and garlic.
The rhinoceros beetle, revered in Ancient Egyptian religion, is prized for its culinary properties in Asian countries. Adult rhinos are rarely eaten because of their tough exoskeletons, but their larvae are soft, juicy, and delicious. Its one-of-a-kind flavor, reminiscent of bacon with a kick, makes it such a tasty and edible insect.
You could eat it as an appetizer instead of conventional peanuts if you wanted to. Due to their widespread distribution and high nutrient content, they are heralded as a promising future protein resource for underdeveloped areas.
17. Palm Weevils
Photo Credit You do not need oil when frying palm weevil larvae as they are 30 percent fat.
Palm weevil larvae are popular insects worldwide because they are high in nutrients and necessary lipids. Their larvae can be consumed uncooked, roasted, boiled, or fried.
They don’t require oil to cook because they contain 10 to 30% fat, so they will caramelize in their own juices to turn golden-brown and crisp.
They are consumed in China, Papua New Guinea, South America, Southeast Asia, Western Africa, and China. However, if you cook them, you should cut the larvae open a little before cooking, so they don’t explode (similar to slicing the film in the microwave).
18. Mopane Worms
Photo Credit Mopane worms are a rural staple and a city delicacy in Zimbabwe.
The so-called “mopane worms” are actually the caterpillars of a particular species of an emperor moth. The worms are delicious and can be enjoyed as a snack when eaten dry and crispy, drowned in sauce, or mixed with corn porridge.
Although people often avoid eating the head, dried mopane worms can also be eaten raw as a crisp snack. In addition to being incredibly popular throughout Southern Africa, they were my first exposure to edible insects when I was a little child.
People claim that they taste somewhat like biltong, though I can’t exactly recall.
19. Midges & Mosquitos
Photo Credit Know your mosquito before you decide to eat them!
Midges, particularly those belonging to the Chaoboridae family, and mosquitoes, particularly those belonging to the Culicidae family, are the most annoying insects on planet earth.
Despite this, people in East Africa catch midges by the netful as they swarm over their numerous lakes, and people in Mexico eat mosquito eggs wrapped in tortillas with lime juice.
However, not all mosquitos are safe to eat because they are carriers of many deadly diseases and viruses. Also, you will need lots of them for any decent-sized meal.
Photo Credit Mealworms are becoming increasingly popular as a sustainable source of protein for humans and animals.
They aren’t technically worms but rather the larvae of black, flightless darkling beetles, which are ideal for farming as they don’t mind crowded areas and enjoy the dark conditions.
Mealworms are also referred to as the “gateway bug” by many in the entomophagy world because they are typically one of the first edible insects people try. They are simple to raise, have an excellent nutritional profile, and taste fantastic (if you like roasted nuts).
The most popular product made from mealworms is mealworm powder, which is often referred to as mealworm flour and can be purchased either unflavored or flavored.
Photo Credit Mayflies are neither dangerous nor poisonous. They pose no infectious risk, either.
Mayflies are eaten in Kenya, Malawi, China, and Japan and are collected while the adults are engaged in their day-long swarming behavior to mate.
Mayflies and mosquitoes are ground together into a paste and baked into a kungu in Malawi confection. According to some estimates, the raw protein content of mayflies is the highest of any edible insect based on their dry weight.
As described by Ian Frazier, Mayflies have a flavor comparable to the tender portion that can be found at the base of a stalk of grass and have a pleasing crunch.
22. Longhorn Beetles
Photo Credit Longhorn beetles are one of the largest insect groups, with about 36,000 species.
The name “longhorn beetle” comes from the beetles’ antennae, which can be far longer than the beetles’ bodies. Longhorns are a member of one of the most widely consumed families of edible insects, along with katydids and other insects of this kind.
However, unlike katydids, longhorns can be found on menus across all of Oceania.
Bear Grylls of the Survival Academy once described the flavor of a longhorn beetle as “old prawn with rotten intestines.” However, eating a longhorn beetle can give you energy in a survival situation; even so, you should remove the beetle’s pincers before you do so.
Photo Credit A taco bell made from highly nutritious locusts.
They are reported to have a flavor similar to shrimp and sunflower seeds and are very tasty when fed sesame leaves. Locust, together with grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids, is officially recognized as fit for human consumption in the Bible (Leviticus 11:22), which is presumably at least partly responsible for their popularity.
They are eaten on almost every continent of the Earth. In terms of their nutritional value, grasshoppers and locusts are outstanding providers of protein in addition to a variety of other essential nutrients. However, you should be aware that the presence of pesticide residues, microbiological pollutants, and allergies may make them unsafe.
Photo Credit Katydids have a flavor similar to shrimp, popcorn, or bacon when fried in garlic and salt.
Although they are more commonly referred to as bush crickets, katydids are more closely related to grasshoppers than they are to crickets. Superbug taste tester David Gracer compares them to chicken, shrimp, and croutons.
Female Katydids, a.k.a. cone heads, are an excellent source of protein and calcium. You may purchase some katydids right here if you want to eat them. They are consumed almost anywhere they are found, just like their other hopping relatives, including all across Africa, South America, East, and Southeast Asia, India, and Papua New Guinea.
25. June Beetles
Photo Credit June beetles are scarab beetles that appear in June in temperate North America.
June beetles were traditionally used to be cooked over fires by the Native Americans. Some say that the beetles have a flavor similar to that of buttery walnuts.
While others say, they have a savory flavor and are just a touch salty and pair wonderfully with parmesan. In the areas where they are found, no poisonous or otherwise undesirable species share a visual similarity with them. Thus, they are safe to harvest from the wild.
However, harvesting should always be done with caution in areas treated with chemicals.
26. Jewel Beetles
Jewel beetles subsist on a diet of leaves, nectar, and other plant material.
There are around 15,000 different species of jewel beetles. Their larvae can bore through wood, and in some cases, they can even bore through living trees, which makes them a significant and problematic pest. However, they spend most of their time clinging to prickly shrub trees, and their sluggish demeanor makes them an easy catch.
In China, Southeast Asia, and Africa, both the larvae and the adult beetles of this species are consumed for food. In many of Limpopo Province’s rural communities, the protein-rich gigantic jewel beetle is a much-loved and sought-after source of foodie pleasure.
27. Huntsman Spider
Photo Credit Huntsman spiders have impressive speed, but sometimes it isn’t enough.
There are over 1000 huntsman spiders species worldwide, and they can be found anywhere in a temperate or tropical environment. These spiders, whose leg spans can be as long as one foot, don’t weave webs but sprint after their victim, giving them their name.
They have a bland flavor that seems to be a hybrid between chicken and cod,” Their texture varies between a crispy outside and a soft interior. They are loaded with protein, much like all bugs and insects. Venezuelans and Indonesians simply refer to them as food.
Photo Credit Incredibly high in chlorophyll, hornworms pair well with any summer vegetable.
Hornworms are hummingbird moth larvae that are a significant problem species for the commercial plants they feed. However, humans eat them too!
The flavor of a tomato hornworm is compared to a mixture of shrimp and crab with a hint of green tomato. In contrast, the closely related tobacco hornworm may bioaccumulate and release nicotine and should only be eaten after starving it for a while.
People also consume them after they have been sautéed in butter and sugar. When prepared in this manner, some claim that the flavor of the hornworms is comparable to that of shrimp.
Photo Credit The hornets are light and crunchy and “leave a warming, tingling sensation when eaten.
Hornets come from the same family (Vespidae) as tiny wasps but are far more aggressive. Even though the adult hornets aren’t particularly tasty, the larvae of the species are edible. They have a texture very similar to shrimp and a meaty and deep flavor.
They are a staple food in China, Japan, and many other Southeast Asian countries. Some people have even claimed that Asian giant hornet larvae and pupae taste like French fries.
Photo Credit It’s OK to chow down on grasshoppers. However, experts advise eating insects raised on farms.
Grasshoppers, like crickets, are eaten practically everywhere on the map I showed you above. They are usually toasted over a clay burner with ingredients like lime, garlic, mint, onion, salt, and agave worm essence to enhance their flavor.
However, not all grasshoppers are edible because there are many species, but Sphenarium spp., known as Chapulines in Mexico, are among the most extensively used.
Grasshoppers are an excellent source of protein, even more so than chicken or beans. In terms of macronutrients, they contain roughly 40% protein, 43% fat, and 13% fiber.
31. Golden Orb-Weavers
Photo Credit The sheer size of these spiders and their voracious appetites have made many headlines over the years.
Imagine coming face to face with one of these spiders while exploring the bush. I mean, they are big enough to catch and eat bats and small birds.
In the United States, golden orb-weavers are also referred to as banana spiders. There have been approximately 75 different golden orb-weaver species documented, and they are found across the tropics and the southern hemisphere.
However, some people have claimed they taste great ((just like peanut butter) when fried. Some people have also said that the golden orb-weaving spider (Nephila edulis) has a fat abdomen that, when baked, tastes strikingly like pâté.
32. Giant Water Bugs
Photo Credit The giant water bugs called “maeng da” in Thai are a popular food item in Southeast Asia.
Although they are also consumed in China, Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, and the Congo, these water bugs, known as toe-biters in Thailand, are without a doubt most popular with visitors. It is because they are one of the most scary street food alternatives.
Some people compare them to clam-flavored potatoes, while others describe a fruity and salty flavor. The eggs of giant water bugs, often known as water amaranth because of their granular texture, are also very well-liked and are said to taste like caviar.
The pregnant ones with the creamiest eggs are the favorites among Thais! Their essence is typically extracted and added to chili-based Nam Prik sauces in Thailand.
Photo Credit Having mistakenly consumed a housefly, I can confirm they have a bittersweet flavor.
The larvae of the house fly, which are claimed to have a flavor of something like black pudding,” are said to be high in fatty acids, comparable to certain fish oils.
This is the viewpoint of David Gracer, a TEDx speaker and entomophagy advocate from the United States. Black soldier fly is another insect entomologist.
Jason Drew, the creator of AgriProtein uses the larvae of many species of flies to convert natural food waste into insect oils, bovine feed, and fertilizers in South Africa.
34. Emperor Moths Caterpillars
Photo Credit This beautiful caterpillar can be spotted eating eucalyptus leaves in the woods of eastern Australia.
They belong to various genera and can be purchased in most African markets. The caterpillars of the emperor moth, which belong to the family Saturniidae, are frequently used as a source of protein in many cuisine and dishes across the African continent.
Unsurprisingly (and continuing a pattern developed throughout the text), they are also consumed in Mexico. Emperor moth caterpillars have a chewy texture, are a bit more stiff than chicken, and they have an earthy taste. On the whole, however, emperor moth caterpillars have the consistency of protein (if that makes sense).
Photo Credit Earthworms are consumed in several parts of the world, including China and the Philippines.
“Slimy, yet satisfying!” It turns out that Pumbaa was also spot-on with his prediction, as earthworms are loaded with various nutrients. They are a good source of calcium, protein, and many other nutrients.
The indigenous Maori people of New Zealand hold high regard for earthworm cuisines.
In Japan, they are so popular that they are sometimes baked into pies. Unfortunately, they are also loaded with filth, which means that it is necessary to clean them well before eating them.
Also, they are typically pre-dried to remove any sliminess before being utilized as.
36. Dragonflies & Damselflies
Photo Credit Both the larval and the adult stages of dragon and damsel flies are edible.
From Africa to New Guinea, Papua, and South America to Asia, people eat insects of the Order Odonata, which includes dragonflies and their near relatives, damselflies.
Many who have tasted them have commented on their chewy consistency and salty flavor, drawing comparisons to dried shrimp.
Humans can eat both adult dragonflies and damselflies as well as their larvae. Indonesians capture the adults in flight by waving an adhesive straw to draw their attention.
Photo Credit Crickets are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Although the North American cricket business is growing, it is still far behind Thailand’s around 20,000 registered cricket farms. They can be cooked, sautéed, and, when roasted, they have a roast-nut flavor. They are also claimed to absorb the flavor of their food, a trait used by Entomo Farms in Canada to make their bugs taste like apple and cinnamon.
Crickets and their subspecies are arguably the most consumed edible insect because they are found worldwide and consumed in far too many countries to list here.
Photo Credit For protein, many countries consume cockroaches, crickets, and other insects.
The Western mentality may consider these to be the very definition of filth, but if they are just given salad and fruit to eat, they have a very decent flavor and are pretty healthy. This is especially true if they are kept in an enclosed space.
Just ask a few people who specialize in eating insects from Thailand, Australia, Mexico, China, India, Malaysia, or Brazil! Cockroaches are also scientifically confirmed to be edible, healthful, and high in protein.
Photo Credit The insects used to create carmine are called cochineal and reside on cacti in Latin America.
It’s possible to find Cochineals in many different dishes, such as marinades and sausages.
The cochineal is a species of the scale bug Coccoidea that feeds on the juice of thorny pear cactus. The red carmine dye produced from cochineals is well-known, but some species are also consumed in China and the Canary Islands.
Until recently, Starbucks utilized this legendary dye to color their Frappuccinos, and evidence suggests its use in the Americas dates back to at least the 10th century.
Photo Credit Though experts recommend tenerals, any kind of cicada is OK for consumption.
Cicadas are among the few insects eaten in the United States, and it is thought that they are at their most sensitive and appetizing right after they molt.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that anyone allergic to seafood should avoid consuming cicadas. In any other form, cicadas can be consumed.
Nashville locals use buttermilk to make delicious desserts from them because of their nutty flavor. Additionally, they are used in China, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, and India.
41. Diving Beetles
Photo Credit Diving beetles are rich in nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
It is a prevalent misperception that only the poor consume insects because some species are substantially more expensive than conventional meat. For instance, diving beetles are consumed out of cultural tradition rather than a nutritional requirement in China, which is believed to possess an antidiuretic effect.
In addition, diving beetles are consumed across the entirety of East and Southeast Asia. You merely need to take off the outer wings and eat everything else except the head if you want to try them.
42. Christmas Beetles
Photo Credit Christmas beetles taste very similar to chocolate-covered ants.
It wasn’t until 1842 that the Western world took notice of the Christmas beetle larvae that were a staple food for Australia’s indigenous people.
They come in the summer when other types of relish are scarce, and all you have to do is go outside and pluck them from Musasa trees. The procedure is straightforward: boil the beetles until they are soft, then fry them until they attain the necessary crispiness. But kids generally dislike them.
They think of them as frightening creatures who bite!
Photo Credit Centipedes resemble shrimp or fish in flavor, with a grassy undertone and a jerky-like consistency.
Centipedes are just one of the many insects you can munch on if you visit the night markets in Beijing. Regrettably though, these food booths have a propensity to cook them until they are crisp, so by the time you eat, they are just crisps. Due to the fact that they look terrifying, eating them is more of an accomplishment for the daring eater than it is for any other reason.
44. Cactus Weevils
Photo Credit It is said that the flavor of cactus weevils is similar to that of rich royal jelly.
Because the larvae of cactus weevils penetrate through the cactus, and the adults eat the plant itself, which frequently results in the cactus’s demise, cactus weevils are almost always considered to be a pest. They belong to the same family as agave weevils and feed on cacti throughout their life cycle.
However, people eat them sometimes! For instance, cactus weevils are eaten as larvae and adults in Ecuador, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Photo Credit Bees are eaten mainly by people in Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, and Mexico.
Given that they only eat royal jelly, it’s hardly surprising that they taste like it! Honey bee, bumblebee, carpenter bee, and stingless bee (Trigona spp.) larvae are all consumed by humans in numerous parts of Asia, southern Africa, South America, and the West Indies.
In China, honey bee drones are consumed and used in traditional medicine, but their larval form is the most popular food throughout the world.
46. Bamboo Worms
Photo Credit Bamboo worms are eaten for both their flavor and their nutritional content.
Bamboo worms are the larvae of moths that eat bamboo trees in bloom. It is occasionally mistaken for the less well-liked food source known as wood-boring beetle larvae, a pest of bamboo.
The bamboo worm is one of the tastiest animals you can eat, and because it is low in fat and high in protein and fiber, it is also one of the most consumed edible insects in Thailand. Due to its shape, it is known in Thai as rot duan, or rapid train, and is sold by practically all of the country’s street food vendors.
Photo Credit The larval or caterpillar stage of moths is commonly referred to as the bagworms.
Bagworms are definitely unique in the animal kingdom.
They are actually a type of caterpillars belonging to the bagworm moth, and to protect themselves, they construct protective casings out of twigs and leaves.
Their larvae are consumed in Mexico and Equatorial Africa, and their pupae, which are known as Fangalabola in Madagascar, are consumed as a delicacy there.
Photo Credit Apparently, aphids and thrips are allowed to “kick it” in our broccoli, but what are they?
Because the only thing that aphids consume is plant juice, which they remove via their siphons, they are considered more of a fluid supply than a food source.
People in the Middle East and Mexico drink the sweet honeydew that they leave over the plants, which is clearly an imitation of ants, many of which are known for gathering and protecting groups of aphids.
Honeydew, secreted by aphids, can either be sour or sugar, based on the taste of the plant being fed upon by the aphids.
Photo Credit Most species of ants are safe to eat, but it’s usually best to kill them first!
The leafcutter ants of Colombia and Brazil have a flavor that is described as a mix of bacon and pistachios, and the lemon ants of the Amazon have a taste that is described as citrusy.
However, a wide variety of ants are consumed worldwide, from carpenter ants (in Indonesia and the Philippines) to honeypot ants in Australia and green tree ants in China and India.
50. Agave Weevils
Photo Credit Agave beetles are being sold in Mexico.
Agave Snout Weevils, also known as Agave Worms, are a species of beetle known scientifically as Scyphophorus acupunctatus. However, these beetles are frequently mistaken for the larvae of a butterfly.
Both of these feed on agave plants, and their presence on tequila and mezcal bottles serves as a quality assurance measure. In Mexico, they are typically eaten fried and are also available in a canned form for purchase.
Edible Insects Products Available Globally
Photo Credit Some insect protein bars contain up to 60 crickets, no refined sugar, and are gluten- and dairy-free.
You must be wondering, how do people even eat insects? Do they fry, pickle, boil, or eat raw? Well, just like the sheer variety of insects out there, edible insect products also come in a range of flavors, forms, shapes, tastes, and textures.
In other words, insects aren’t just served whole (seasoned or unseasoned roasted) for munching on. There are over 400 companies working in the Western world alone that are dedicated to the production of edible insect products. They make energy bars, protein powders, beverages, confectionery, and other more substantial food items from insects.
There is a diverse selection of insect candies available to purchase from manufacturers all around the world. You can also buy them online from the comfort of your home.
Seasoning & Spreads
Insects are also used to make seasonings and spreads. Some of the products that you can buy right now include: herbal blends and cricket-based seasonings from Chapul, Giant Bug Chili Paste and oils from crickets from TU, cricket aubergine tapenade from Nimavert, Cricket Hazelnut Dukkah from Grubsup, and Sal de Gusano from DB.
Waffles, Pancakes & Cookie Mixes
Yes, you heard it right! Insects are also used to make cookie mixes and waffles. Some wonderful products you can try right now are: Protein Porridge from Isaac, pancake and waffle mix from Cricket Flours, Pancake and Brownie mixes from Zirp, and Pancake combinations and Cricket Choc Chip Wattle Seed cookie mix from CH.
Insect Protein Shakes
Looking for something a bit healthy? Well, do not worry. Insects are here! You can buy these insect protein shakes right now: Flavored protein powder from Earth-Proof Protein, and Vanilla, Chocolate and Chai Protein Powders from Orchestra Provisions.
Insect Cookies & Snacks
You can also eat insects as snacks while traveling or if you feel like munching on something at home while watching TV. Some of my favorite insect snacks include: An assortment of granolas from Kriket, cricket crisp bread from Crick, various flavored corn-cricket chips from Primal Future, flavored insect snacks with mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets, and granolas from Jimini’s, as well as chirpsies from Nimavert.
Sick of eating pasta made from dough of wheat flour mixed with water or eggs. Well, now you can buy insect pasta. Some of our favorite products include: Silkworm Pupae Ramen Noodles from TU, Mealworm Pasta from dineinsects, and Tagliatelle with red lentils from Terraz.
Insect Protein Bars
Photo Credit Spicy Apple Carrot flavored Tasty and Healthy – Bug Challenge Cricket Protein Bar.
If you are not a lover of protein shakes, you are in luck! You can also buy insect protein bars. Energy bars, often known as protein bars, are a booming industry. So, it is unsurprising that multiple bug companies have joined the market with cricket protein bars.
Here are some excellent suggestions if you are interested: Protein Bar – Raw Cacao from essento, Raw Power Cricket Protein Bar from Green Bite, Cricket Protein Bars from NutriBug, and Chili chocolate bar from Crickets 101.
Cricket Flours & Powders
Cricket powder, sometimes known as cricket flour, is made by grinding whole dried crickets into flour. As with other grain flours, this fine white or brownish powder can be utilized in a wide variety of culinary applications. The Acheta Domesticus is the most commonly used cricket in most goods since it has a milder flavor than others.
In addition to that, it is the species of cricket that is farmed the most all over the world. Some of our favorite insect flours and powder products are Chocolate Chip Cricket Cookie Mix with Cricket Powder from Chirps, Cricket Protein Powder by GEEPROTEIN, Chocolate Cricket Protein Powder by Bud’s Cricket Power, and Cricket Flour Protein from ecoEat.
All Edible Insect Products
Did we miss something? Here is a list of all the edible insect products available worldwide.
|Candies and lollies|
Protein Enriched/Fortified Drinks
Spirits and Alcohol
Pasta and noodles
Spices and Seasonings
At this time, most capital is being put toward the production of insects for use as animal food. Yet, as the global human population expands, insects may also be an excellent source of nourishment for people.
That is why the agricultural and food processing industry needs to be rethought to meet both the existing and future demands for food.
In addition, we have to develop innovative techniques for farming bugs, eliminate inefficiencies, and create fresh approaches to the manufacture of goods.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is eating insects good for you?
Edible insects could provide “very excellent health advantages” due to high levels of vital amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants, according to a study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science Nutrition.
What is the healthiest insect to eat?
Crickets, honey bees, and mealworms are three of the best insect species to eat. Their nutritional worth is on par with or better than that of beef or chicken.
Mealworms have the highest protein content of all the major edible insects. Insects like grasshoppers and ants are also fantastic sources of protein.
What are some benefits of eating insects?
Consumption of insects can confer a variety of positive health and environmental effects. For instance, edible insects have been hailed as an excellent source of animal protein that does not have a detrimental impact on the resources of the Earth.
What happens when we eat insects?
Eating a bug won’t make you sick. Your body will generally digest arthropods “just like any other meal.” If you do not know, arthropods include insects such as gnats, flies, mosquitoes, and fleas, as well as arachnids such as spiders, mites, ticks, and bedbugs.
What are the disadvantages of eating insects?
The most significant drawback that springs to mind are the opportunity for them to consume insecticides that are either sprayed on them or fed to them. In addition, certain insects may house bacteria, viruses, and parasites within their bodies. Therefore, before you consume any insects, ensure that you have first researched them.
Sources for Further Reading
Eating insects — safely. (2021). Michigan State University Extension. Retrieved 17 September 2022, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/eating-insects-safely
Eating Insects Might Seem Yucky, But They Are Nutritious. (2022). Retrieved 17 September 2022, from https://www.rutgers.edu/news/eating-insects-might-seem-yucky-they-are-nutritious
Eating insects could help fight world hunger | School of Integrative Biology | The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2022). Retrieved 17 September 2022, from https://sib.illinois.edu/entomology/news/94
The next trend in food: Edible insects. (2020). The University of California. Retrieved from https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/next-trend-food-edible-insects
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