All over the world, humans consume a variety of insect species. Some of the creepy crawlys are eaten straight from nature, such as ants, grasshoppers and beetle grubs. Other people actually grow and breed insects for the purpose of human consumptions, including silkworms and bee larvae. From eating raw to cooking with other ingredients, this article will highlight some of the bugs that are eaten by people from around the world.
If you thought eating a caterpillar was gross, consider eating a species of parasitic fungus that grows on the caterpillar’s larvae. The fungus takes over the body of the thitarodes caterpillar. Over time, it eventually kills in the insect and causes it to enter a state of mummification. The fruiting body (also called a mushroom) is a shade of dark brown to black and makes its appearance from the ground in spring or early summer ”“ it always grows out of the forehead of the caterpillar. The fungus is commonly found in Chinese or Tibetan medicine, where it is turned into an aphrodisiac, a soup, or used as a treatment for a range of ailments. The fungus has been known to treat fatigue and cancer.
In China and Japan, bee larvae are eaten as a source of protein. The Japanese call the larvae hachinoko, and was a popular choice for country people looking for a wild source of protein when they did not have any fish or meat to eat. The larvae are prepared in soy sauce and sugar, which gives them a mildly sweet flavor and a crumbly texture. Nowadays, the item is served at parties as a reminder of the past, and when served during gatherings ”“ it is the older generation that receives it with open arms.
In Cambodia, there is a spider in Skuon that is similar to the tarantulas found in North America. These insects are intentionally bred in holes in the ground so that they can later be prepared for consumption. One of the most popular ways to serve the spiders is to deep fry the critters. The texture becomes crispy and chewy at the same time. Some liken the taste to that of crab. Capturing the spiders is no fun, as they do bite. During the Khmer Rouge days, the spiders served as a regular diet of people trying to survive.
Other insects that people have eaten include:
Chocolate covered grasshoppers and crickets
Fried meal worms
Digger wasp rice crackers
Stewed silkworm pupae
One of the reasons that insects are consumed in the world is because they offer a high source of protein. Eating the larvae of some bugs (grubs and pupae) delivers a boost in protein and fat content to a diet. The highest protein levels are typically found in adult insects. Depending on the species, you may also encounter a great deal of other nutritional benefits.