More than two billion folks worldwide eat insects on a regular basis, from cooked ants served like popcorn in South American movie theaters to centipedes sold on a stick as street food in China. Except for most of us, here in the U.S., just considering intake a bug is enough to quash an appetite. Then again, we might feel differently in a survival scenario, where insects could be the only factor standing between us and going hungry.
Of course, it’s not as simple as chowing down on whatever bugs you can find. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to remain safe, and perhaps even enjoy your food, if you’re ever forced to eat insects for survival.
What to Avoid
For starters, you clearly need to avoid toxic insects, which could leave you worse than just hungry. How can you tell which are toxic? short of learning how to determine toxic species, paying attention to nature’s signals will tell you lots.
For example, if you choose up an insect and notice a nasty smell, you should take that as a warning sign that it should be toxic. And just as the bright colors of Amazonian poison dart frogs act as a warning for predators, you’d also be better off avoiding brightly colored insects and caterpillars.
Other signs of danger include hairy bugs and those that bite or sting. Which means leaving spiders alone, as well as disease-carrying insects like ticks, mosquitoes and flies. Also, you’ll have to find another food supply if you’re allergic to shellfish, which are associated with insects.
What to Seek
Luckily for us, there ar many insect species good for eating. You might realize they don’t taste that bad if you can roast or maybe fry them first.
Ants are a popular food in several elements of the planet, but you should avoid fire ants, which can bite back. Just put a stick into an anthill and wait for ants to crawl all over it, then shake the stick off into a container.
Larvae grubs and termites are great sources of protein. You won’t have to dig too deep in the dirt to find grubs, and you can simply find larvae and different insects by looking under rocks, decaying logs and loose bark.
While not technically an insect, earthworms are edible and simple to spot. You’ll find them after a decent rain. When it’s wet, just dig alittle hole and wait for the drowned earthworms to collect in it. Some say worms taste like dirt and sand, that’s what they eat, after all, but you can create them more comestible by squeezing out the dirt with your fingers and/or cooking them before eating.
Some of the most common edible insects across the world include grasshoppers, crickets, locusts and cicadas. They’re best roasted, but feel free to remove their heads, feet and wings first because the protein is mostly in the abdomen. Finally june bugs are a safe choice. Since they’re larger, they tend to own more protein than smaller insects.
How Many Do You Need?
An important factor to remember when you’re searching for bugs is that while they’re rich in protein, they’re also very little. Which means you’ll need to eat more than just one or two to stave off hunger and weakness.
The average person needs roughly fifty grams of protein daily if they aren’t doing lots of physical activity. What does that amount to in bug terms? You would need to eat 20,000 ants, while you’d only need to eat a dozen or so grasshoppers or two dozen earthworms. So, while it may be harder to abdomen the bigger insects, you’ll end up needing to eat fewer of them.
If you’re wholly sick by the idea of eating insects, just keep in mind – we all eat bugs each day, little amounts of that are allowed by the Food and Drug Administration in everything from chocolate to fruit juice to canned vegetables. Plus, you’ll pay big bucks for steamed lobster in a fancy eating house, but you can eat all the wild insects you wish for free.