Tasty Insects You Can Eat
Experts say we'll be eating bugs in the future. Let's find out which edible insects are the tastiest!Food
Experts predict we’ll all be eating bugs in the future. They’re nutritious and extremely sustainable, as the amount of feed converted into edible food is much higher than in livestock farming. Packed with protein, edible insects are a perfect meat substitute, if only we could get over the taste.
Are insects the food of the future? Could we all be swapping out our Kentucky Fried Chicken for Chinese Fried Cockroaches? Let's find out now!
20. Cricket Protein Powder
For most people, the experience of eating bugs sounds unpleasant. Some people can’t get over the crunching of the shell, the squishing of the guts, or the little legs getting stuck between your teeth.
But sustainability isn’t the only benefit to eating bugs. The protein content may help to win over the gym junkies out there. Companies are already clocking on to the market for conscientious fitness fanatics, with the development of cricket powder!
Ground crickets provide a real nutritional wallop. They have more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin B12 than salmon or beef. Crickets grow more than ten times faster than cattle and consume twelve percent less feed per unit of weight.
Plus, new research indicates that cricket farming requires much less water, and only emits a tiny fraction of the CO2 of conventional farming.
19. Lemon Ants
The next time you find yourself lost in the Ecuadorian jungle, stomach rumbling – don’t fret! Simply break a twig off a tree and crack it open like King crab legs! If you’re lucky, a mess of light brown ants will come spilling out.
These tasty morsels are called “lemon ants,” and as for flavor, the clue is in the name. The formic acid in their bodies gives them a mild, citrusy flavor, making them a great Ecuadorian snack, and an even better seasoning!
18. Honeypot Ants
These strange, succulent ants form an occasional treat for Indigenous Australians. These tiny treats are scraped from their underground tunnels, where precious “honey” is waiting. This “honey” is found in the swelled rears of certain worker ants, who are forcibly gorged with food until they resemble Kim Kardashian’s next photoshoot.
Food is stored like this until it is needed, when the unfortunate workers are forced to vomit up dinner for their friends. It might not sound appealing, but it's nectar – so they’re supposed to be quite tasty and sweet.
These ubiquitous insects are a bridge too far for most people. Nevertheless, cockroaches are an outstanding source of protein and are being commercially raised in farms across the world, most notably in China.
Recent reports have come out claiming they’re a ‘miracle drug’ and are currently being ground down into a powder to be used in several treatments including as a burn remedy.
They’re super easy to raise and store – even after a nuclear apocalypse – and reportedly taste like greasy chicken, though they also have a certain staying power with their aftertaste.
In Japan, silkworms are usually served boiled in a sweet-sour sauce made with soy sauce and sugar. In Thailand, roasted silkworm is often sold at open markets.
It is not just in Southeast Asia that these meaty little guys are eaten; Silkworms have also been proposed for cultivation by astronauts as space food on long-term missions. This is because they’re relatively easy to cultivate, and have a mild, salty flavor.
Silkworms are being commercially raised by a number of enterprising start-ups. While cost remains an issue in making them a staple in your pantry, as more silkworm cultivators get into the business, competition will surely drive the price down, making them even more sustainable.
15. Weaver Ants
In India, adult weaver ants are used in traditional medicine as a remedy for rheumatism, and oil made from them is used for stomach infections and as an aphrodisiac. Weaver ants are said to have a taste variously described as creamy, sour and lemony. Furthermore, these ants are even kind enough to roll themselves up into a burrito for you.
14. Giant Water Bugs
Many species of Giant Water Bugs can reach an inch in length as adults, and the members of the genus Lethocerus can reach nearly 2 inches long.
This pretty much makes them the “all you can eat buffets” of the insect world. Reports from intrepid eaters say that if eaten raw, giant water bugs smell and taste a bit like crabapples. When steamed, they develop a fishy consistency but retain their fruity aroma.
One of the loudest entries on this list, cicadas are famous for their seasonal emergences, sometimes with millions of noisy bugs per acre. Historically, Native Americans would gather them and roast them in hot ovens before eating them, but they are consumed all over the world in a variety of recipes.
Currently, rather than being raised commercially, cicadas are more of a food of opportunity or convenience. But this might be about to change, with the growing popularity of chocolate-coated cicadas, which are reportedly delicious!
12. Sago Grubs
Also known by their charming name of “Red Palm weevil” and less charmingly known as “the Snout beetle,” these critters, in their larval form, are a delicacy in parts of South-East Asia.
Rich in protein, these are one of the many species of edible beetle larvae, and reportedly taste like bacon when roasted or steamed.
11. Black Emperor Scorpions
These regally-named beasties are intimidating to look at but delicious to taste. Large scorpions like the Black Emperor are skewered and fried in Thailand, China and Cambodia.
They taste similar to soft-shell crabs or tapas-sized bites of fine lobster. The Bugs Café in Siem Reap serves them in salads and atop cupcakes; worth a taste if you’re ever hungry at the temples of Angkor Wat!
10. Zebra Tarantulas
In Cambodia, tarantulas are believed to increase virility, which is apparently a problem locals will do anything to solve, because these sound like a rather acquired taste. The stomach and organs veritably explode in your mouth, like those nostalgic “Gushers” candies from your childhood.
The aforementioned Bugs Café also serves tarantula donuts, in case you like a little danger with your dunk! Canned zebra tarantulas are even available on Amazon, for Prime pickings.
9. Aphid Honeydew
These little guys are more of a source of liquid than food since all they really eat is plant sap. As they do, they leave behind a trail of sugary honeydew, which ants slurp up like milk.
This candy-like substance is collected by people in Mexico and the Middle East. According to aficionados, Aphid honeydew can taste either bitter or sweet depending on which plants they feed on.
8. Japanese Giant Hornets
This giant flyer might have the best nickname of them all, as it's also called ‘The Coldblooded Doombringer’. To call these pests an “invasive species” is a foolish understatement. They are conquerors, colonists, and destroyers.
A single hornet can take out a thousand honeybees, a fact made more terrifying given the collapse of the worldwide bee population. One way to stop the terrifying advance of these dynamic predators is to eat them. Yes, they’re edible.
They can’t resist the smell of sugary alcohol, so leave your leftover beers out at night and return in the morning to harvest the wasps drowned in your liquid. They’re supposed to taste like prawns, but they also kill upwards of 40 humans a year, so watch out!
7. Golden Orb-Weavers
Also known as banana spiders in the US, golden orb-weavers are known for their huge webs and bright yellow hue.
They’re not as dangerous as they look, and are very common in the US, Australia, and other parts of the world. They’re supposedly delicious; they have a nutty, pâté-like flavor when baked.
However, there are currently no ways to farm these beautiful bugs at scale, because they have a tendency to kill each other, so they remain a delicate treat instead of a major component of a protein-rich diet.
Despite being better known as Bush crickets, these insects are actually closer relatives of grasshoppers. Much like these other hopping relatives of theirs, they’re eaten pretty much everywhere they’re found. And they’re found pretty much everywhere.
David Gracer, bug sampler extraordinaire, says that they taste somewhere between chicken, shrimp and croutons. Bush crickets are easily raised and now comprise a healthy portion of the market for edible crickets.
5. Stag Beetles
This imposing creature gets its name from mandibles that males use for fighting other males around mating time. These specially-evolved weapons look like horns on an elk, hence the name.
Stag beetles are the biggest earthbound insect in Europe, but oddly, they are usually not consumed on the Continent. In Mexico and other nations, however, they are a regular treat, tasting crispy with a meaty flavor. Their larvae are sold chocolate-coated as a valentine’s treat in Japan.
4. Wood Lice
Commonly known as the roly-poly, sow bug or pill bug, the woodlouse is one of only a few types of crustaceans that make their home on land. This means eating one of these is basically like eating crab or lobster! If believing that helps us save the planet, it might be worth it.
These edible little guys prefer the damp soil under rocks or the nutrient-rich and fertile ground under rotting pieces of forest deadfall. Like most wild edibles, they are the tastiest when they are roasted or fried and have a shrimp-like taste. They’re basically Nature’s M & Ms: they crunch in your mouth and crawl across your hand!
3. June Bugs
June bugs are seasonal beetles that appear in the spring and early summer all over the world. When temperatures begin to rise, strap on a headlamp and head out around dusk. June bugs are nocturnal and attracted to light. Plus, they move slowly and are easy to catch.
They’re best served as per the Native American tradition; roasted over coals and eaten like popcorn. Although, these kernels are salted, not sweet, so bear that in mind. And there's also this: they burst in your mouth.
2. Migratory Locusts
More than just a Biblical plague, these winged bugs are also an incomparable source of protein. They’re jam-packed with dietary fiber and include mostly unsaturated fat, as well as vitamins A, B12, riboflavin, and other essential minerals. They’ve historically wreaked havoc on farmers’ crops, so we should get our revenge by roasting and eating a few of them!
Apparently, they taste like toasted sunflower seeds, so revenge has never tasted so good! But as for it being a dish best served cold, I’ll leave that to your judgement.
1. Termite Queens
Most of the insects so far have been common, incredibly numerous, and easy to find. These traits make them ideal daily foodstuffs. However, there is one rare delicacy from the African continent.
Termite soldiers are one of the most easily enjoyed insects, eaten by folks around the world. But very few people have ever eaten a termite queen.
Besides their absolutely repulsive appearance, queen termites are very difficult to find, and even experienced termite gatherers can go their entire lives without ever locating a termite queen.
But when they are finally found, the termite queen is given great respect, as her great size gives her terrific nutritional value. Termite queens are given to malnourished children in Zambia, and also to ill people in Cameroon, among other medicinal uses.
The standard practice is to cut off the queen’s head and swallow her without chewing. Other times people have grilled the termite queen like a hand-made sausage and reported that it tasted like foie gras.
There’s no commercial way to cultivate or harvest this regal termite, as entire mounds often have to be destroyed to find her royal chamber. Maybe it’s for the best that we don’t make these writhing, pulsating life-givers regular dinner plate attendees. That sums up our list of tasty insects that we'll probably be eating in the future! Edible bugs are nutritionally beneficial meat alternatives and environmentally friendly, and if only we could overcome their taste, they might eventually be a normal part of our diets. Thanks for reading!