Eating bugs: Part 2 – Eating bugs around the world

Do you think it is strange that some cultures eat bugs? In this Michigan State University Extension article series, we discussing just that – eating bugs!

Do you think it is strange that some cultures eat bugs? In this Michigan State University Extension article series, we discussing just that – eating bugs! While true bugs are only insects in the order Hemiptera, in this article, the word “bug” is used as a generic term for insects and other invertebrate.

Why do you think eating bugs has not become common in most of the United States? Humans have been eating insects across the globe for thousands of years. Some insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets, are eaten widely. In tropical parts of the planet, insects often grow larger and are easier to harvest. The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Smithsonian even discuss how cultural traditions of eating insects can fight food insecurity.

Here are a few ways bugs are consumed in other areas of the world and in other cultures:

  • Many Native American groups have used insects as part of their diets, including grasshoppers, ants and cicadas.
  • In Mexico, fried grasshoppers are known as chapulines.
  • According to the BBC, an Aztec “caviar” was made out of water fly eggs that are fried into patties called ahuautle.
  • The mezcal worm, from two types of caterpillars, is eaten and is used to flavor alcoholic mezcal.
  • Escamol is fried ant larva and pupa.
  • Aboriginal Australians have eaten honeypot ants as a tasty, sweet treat.
  • Witchetty grubs are a moth larva which is an important food in the desert.
  • In Lake Malawi in Africa, lake flies are collected from swarms and fried into patties with seven times the protein as beef.
  • Silkworm pupa are eaten in east Asia. After the pupa make their cocoons, the cocoons are heated. The cocoons are then unwound into long threads of silk which are made into fabric. The pupa are then cooked and eaten. If the pupa are allowed to leave the cocoons naturally, they destroy some of the silk and make the threads much shorter.
  • Southeast Asia seems to eat the widest variety of bugs. There are open-air markets with different types of insects and a wide range of preparations. These include beetle adults and larva, caterpillars, giant water bugs, scorpions, tarantulas, grasshoppers, crickets and more.

Be sure to also check out the first article in this series, Eating bugs: Part 1 – You already have.

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