Currently viewing the tag: "Edible Insects: Tasty Morsels"

Are you curious about insects as a food source?

hello bugman!
last summer, i went hiking in Fairmont, BC (in canada). we drove up behind some very cool hoodoos, but along the way we came across this REALLY creepy looking bug. i took several pictures of it while it was digging or poking its stinger into the ground. this image was the last one, after it retracted it, and then we ran away. i was wondering what type of bug it was that i was so fearful of.
hoodoo explorer

Dear Hoodoo Explorer,
This is a female Mormon Cricket in the genus Anabrus, one of the Long Horned Katydids. She was in the process of laying eggs.

Update from David Gracer (06/12/2006)
The Mormon Cricket got its name from the colorful tale of a plague on the newly-arrived Mormons who were threatened with devastation, but saved by a vast flock of seagulls that swept down and ate up the bugs. These insects were an important staple in the diets of many Indian groups. DeFoliart has catalogued the many ways that the insects were gathered and prepared; most of the accounts were written by white observers of Indian culture in the 1800s. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve been told repeatedly that the ones that have eaten the farmer’s alfalfa taste MUCH better than the ones that have eaten sage. This is one of the species that, at least in some years, could easily be mass-harvested or cultivated for either human consumption or, perhaps more realistically, as animal feed.

Hello Bugman,
I found this beetle in Buena Vista, Panama. His body was about 8 cm long, but the front legs were enormous. He made a funny grinding noise when you would pick him up. Like those old-fashioned, wind-up toys that sounded like grinding metal. Can you tell me what he is?

Hi Lisa,
Our friend Monica from Switzerland just mailed us a beautiful book called Living Jewels by Poul Beckmann, and plate 28, Acrocinus longimanus, is a dead ringer for your beetle. The book lists it from Peru, and BugGuide pictures a specimen from Ecuador.

Update from David Gracer (05/31/2006)
Longhorn Beetle from Panama: Acrocinus longimanus
The larvae of this species is eaten throughout much of Mexico and South America; like that of other big Cerambycids (Macrodontia, for example), such a meal would be both good-sized and, one might say, expensive. The grubs are large, and the adults that the larvae would otherwise become would fetch considerable sums of money as mounted specimens. Also worth noting: insects that feature complete metamorphosis – beetles, lepidopterans, flies, etc – are far more often consumed in the last-instar larval and pupal stages than the adult stage. The previous stages have a lot more protein and fats, which provide the fuel necessary to transform the insect into the imago stage (and would therefore make the potential food item more desirable in terms of both taste and nutrition.)

What’s This Bug?
Hi, my girlfriend found this bug dead in our kitchen floor. Can you tell me what it is?

This is a terrestrial arthropod known as a Pill Bug or Sow Bug. Children call them Rollie-Pollies because they roll into a ball..

Greetings Bugman!
Last summer in may we were blessed with thousands of these creatures! I cannot remember if this is the 17 year cycle cicada, or if it is a different amount of time. being a night creature myself, I decided to watch the emergence of these wonderful bugs from its previous shell. the first two pictures were taken may 15th 2004 – 2:00 a.m., 4:00 am. (not included was the 1:00 pm next day of the completely dry cicada next to its shell.) The third might have been from another night. The 4th picture is just to show the abundance of them in our backyard. (Columbus, Indiana) When they first arrived, we only heard the gentle cooing hum of the females(?) and we all thought there was something wrong with the powerlines! I just thought you might like to add these to your collection!
Lydia C. Burris

Hi Lydia,
Thanks for your awesome images. These are the Periodical Cicadas, sometimes called the 17 Year Locust. There are many different broods, and yours are from Brood X, one of the largest. Every different locale gets these amazing creatures in a different yearly cycle. Having different cycles helps to ensure the perpetuation of the species. There are also 14 Year Periodical Cicadas.

Update from David Gracer (06/12/2006)
Cicadas both annual and, particularly, periodic have been popular human food for a very long time. Native Americans ate them; they’re popular in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Aristotle, extolling how delicious he found cicadas, preferred them still in the brown shell that the adult form hatches out of. In 2004 I drove to Princeton NJ and harvested several pounds off the trees. I even popped a couple of the newly emerged white ones down the hatch. Very soft, creamy and good, like asparagus (which other tasters have commented upon.) Cooked and crunchy-hard they’re still great; nutty.

Baby spiders, bee, grasshopper
Hi! Thought you might enjoy these pix of: newly hatched linx spiders (hard to tell on small picture, but when I zoom in they look just like Mom), cute bee (maybe you can ID this one?), and a big grasshopper on a cactus. Thanks for the wonderful site.
Best Wishes,
Donna in San Diego

Hi Donna,
Thanks for the images of the Green Lynx Spiderlings. Your bee is a common Honey Bee, Apis mellifera and your grasshopper is a Gray Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca nitens. The females can grow to 2 1/2 inches in length or larger.

Update from David Gracer
Honey Bees
In addition to honey itself, many species in the genus Apis are harvested for bee brood (the high-protein larvae in the honeycomb; the brood harvested from Apis laboriosa is called Bakuti in Nepalese. Notice that evocative Latin name). To the extent that they’re eaten at all, domestic honeybees are consumed almost exclusively at certain Entomology Department get-togethers. While most American beekeepers would shudder at the thought of harvesting their future worker bees as a food source, the larvae are vastly more nutritious than the honey, and from everything I’ve read they’re delicious. One of these days I will have to give it a try .