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Insects From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

Insects From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

From ants to Zha jinchan, deep fried cicada, 26 facts and figures about edible insects: 80% of countries in the world eat insects belonging to 1000 species.

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Ants. Ants and their larvae are eaten in various parts of the world. The eggs of some ant species are considered to be “insect caviar” and can cost up to 90 dollars per kilo.

Beetles. This is the common name given to all insects belonging to the order Coleoptera. This is the type of bug most widely destined for human consumption: about 350 species are eaten throughout the world, mainly in their larval stage.

Crickets. These are very popular in Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam. They are fried and eaten as snacks (here you find a recipe for Locust and Cricket Chermoula).

Dynastinae. Also called “Rhinoceros beetles”, they are a subgroup of the Coleoptera order. They contain about 20% more protein than chicken and 18% more than beef.

Entomophagy. From Greek éntomon, "insect", and phagein, "to eat", is the human consumption of insects. In actual fact, it comprises the consumption of other creatures that are not technically insects, such as spiders or centipedes – the latter for instance are eaten on skewers as street food in China.

Four fifths. 80% of countries in the world eat insects belonging to over 1000 different species.

Grasshoppers. These are rich in proteins as well as lipids. They represent an important source of nourishment in some African countries, especially in times of hardship.

Hormigas culonas. Translating as "large-bottomed ants", this is the ant species Atta laevigata, roasted live and eaten in some parts of Colombia where they are sold in cinemas, as a type of popcorn.

Ice-cream. Sparky's ice-cream parlour in Columbia, Missouri added cicadas to a batch of ice-cream in 2011 but was dissuaded from repeating the experiment by the authorities. Cicadas are most popular in Asia, Africa and Latin America and well lend themselves to the preparation of sweets.

Juvenile. Producers of edible larva, especially mealworms, often add a juvenile hormone to the larva’s food to guarantee abnormal growth and prevent them from metamorphosing to the next stage.

Katydids. These are “bush crickets”, also known as “long-horned grasshoppers”. They meet with particular favour in certain East African countries. In Uganda – where they are called “nsenene” – they are a delicacy which, until only recently, was denied to women who are incidentally responsible for gathering them.

Liometopum apiculatum. This is an ant species whose habitat is in the arid and semi-arid regions of the United States and Mexico. With their buttery and nutty flavour and a texture akin to that of cottage cheese, in Mexico they are eaten in the larval and pupal stages in a speciality called “escamoles”, a dish dating back to the Aztec age.

Mealworms. This is the most widely consumed beetle species in the world. It is actually the larval stage of the Tenebrio molitor, or Darkling beetle. They are sold as a healthy snack in cereal-type packs for eating in a bowl. Roasted or fried, they team up well with potatoes and carrots.

Non mai phai. The Thai name of the so-called “bamboo worm”: the larvae of a moth, Omphisa fuscidentalis, which are foraged from the cavity of bamboo and eaten as a fried delicacy.

Oaxaca. The Mexican region most fond of “Chapulines”, the crickets traditionally consumed in this country and recently discovered by foodies. They are served as snacks, for example at the stadium, used in fillings or roasted with garlic, lime and salt flavoured with agave worm extract.

Pupa. This is one of the life stages of insects which undergo four metamorphoses: embryo, larva, pupa and, finally, the adult stage of imago. In butterflies this stage is called chrysalis. Many insects are eaten as pupae while others are consumed as eggs, larvae or fully developed adult insects.

Queensland drink. The aboriginal people of North Queensland and the Northern Territory used to make a drink by immersing the larvae of weaver ants in water: with its refreshing citrus flavour, it was also appreciated by Europeans.

Rural supermarkets. The “mopane worms”, the grubs of Gonimbrasia belina, are an important source of protein for millions of people in South Africa. They used to be preserved dried or smoked but are now sold in cans by rural supermarkets.

Silkworms. The larvae of domesticated silk moths are eaten in India, Korea, Japan, China and Vietnam, and have even been suggested as possible food for astronauts since they can be bred whilst in orbit!

Tarantulas. These large hairy spiders, nice and crisp on the outside with white chicken-like meat inside, started to be used as food for human consumption in Cambodia at the time of the Khmer Rouge and since then have become a regional speciality.

United Nations. For a couple of years now, the United Nations and the FAO, in particular, have been officially attempting to promote the consumption of insects, an underexploited food source which, as well as combating world famine, would have a less negative impact on the environment than animal farming.

Very sweet. The only thing they have ever eaten in life is honey: we refer to bee larvae, a delicacy that is starting to appeal to western palates. Their flavour, when cooked in butter, is akin to that of fatty and very sweet melon tasting bacon. These insects can also be eaten as adults however: mainly in the form of roast bees.

Weaver ants. Also known as “Green ants”, they are one of the most sought-after species of edible insects. They are a source of protein and fatty acids. In some countries they are considered a real delicacy: in the north of Thailand, their larvae sell at twice the price of quality beef.

Xamoes. This is the name given to the 88 species of Coleoptera eaten in Mexico, largely in the larval stage. Also known as “Chahuis”, in English they are often called "stick worms", "rhinoceros beetle," or "grubs". They feed on certain species of the Mesquite tree.

Yam khai mot daeng. This is the “Red ant egg salad”, a Thai dish containing weaver ant eggs. Like the adults of the species, they are regularly consumed in this country.

Zha jinchan. Literally "deep fried golden cicada", is one of the specialities of the Lu or Shandong Cuisine, one of the greatest Chinese culinary traditions which also counts fried scorpions among its most characteristic dishes.

  • AlanJohnson said on

    Thanks for sharing this informational post. There are variety of insects in this planet and all have different advantages and disadvantages to us. It is our duty to have proper knowledge about them and work according to that, because there are insect such as ants, beetles and many more which can cause damage to your health and property. To know more in detail have a look here :

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