11 bugs that you can eat and what they taste like

Sean Gallup/GettyThere are a fair amount of bugs that are edible.

Although bugs aren’t often on the menu in many US households, people the world over routinely eat insects. In fact, an estimated 2 billion people eat insects as part of their traditional diet worldwide, according to a report by the United Nations. Over 1,900 different species of insects have been used for food, as noted in the same report.

Known as entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs is nothing new. Now recognised as a more environmentally sustainable protein when compared to animal agriculture, insects can create a lot of nutritious food with far less waste, as noted in The Huffington Post.

But this doesn’t mean grabbing a random bug from your yard and eating it raw. (This is actually a bad idea because of potential pesticides.) Most of these edible bugs are best enjoyed spiced, fried, smoked, or sauteed, like any other tasty treat. We rounded up some bugs you didn’t know you could eat.

Crickets are a good beginner bug.

avlxyz / FlickrIt’s important to cook crickets before eating them because they can carry parasites.

Crickets are often the go-to edible bug for beginners because they are pretty easy to catch and rich in protein. However, they can carry parasites, so it’s important to cook crickets before eating them, according to Backpacker.

Whether sauteed, baked, broiled, or fried in tempura batter, the ways to cook and serve crickets are almost endless, according to HuffPost. Many cricket chefs do recommend working with frozen bugs to make the whole process easier.

If the idea of eating a whole bug is too much, then there’s also the option of cricket flour, also known as cricket powder. A complete source of protein with a mild, nutty taste, cricket powder can be mixed into baked goods, smoothies, and even salad dressings, as noted by Cricket Flours LLC. It’s an easy introduction into the world of edible bugs.

Grasshoppers have made the leap to US plates.

William NeuheiselGrasshoppers have become popular in the US.

Grasshoppers are also totally edible. “In many countries that are heavy consumers of insects, like Mexico, they are wild harvested – think of the grasshoppers that are commonly eaten there called chapulines,” said David George Gordon, a.k.a “The Bug Chef,” in National Geographic.

It looks like they’re pretty tasty, too. The toasted grasshoppers coated in chilli-lime salt have become a hit ballpark concession food at Seattle Mariners games, often selling out at the concession stand, according to Sports Illustrated.

Scorpions can be less scary when cooked.

Flickr/Alison J HoodScorpions can be scary when they are alive but great to eat after.

When cooked, the taste of scorpion has been compared to popcorn, shrimp, or crab, as noted in Survival-Mastery. For novice bug chefs, removing the stinger and venom gland before cooking is a safe practice.

Termites are good toasted.

Courtesy of Crunchy CritersTermites have a nutty flavour.

Eat the bugs that try to eat your house. “I have harvested them individually or in small groups and then toasted them in a hot pan. They have a high oil content relative to the size of their body and are quite tasty, with a slightly nutty flavour,” said Miles Olson, author of Unlearn, Rewild, in Mother Earth News.

Ants can be bought in bulk.

Courtesy of Crunchy CrittersAnts are so popular you can buy a bag of edible ants on Amazon.

Depending on the species and cooking technique, ants can have a complex, acidic taste with a citrusy kick, according to Munchies. You can even buy a bag of edible ants on Amazon.

Even their eggs are edible. “Ants’ eggs – escamoles – are the real delicacy, and are called Mexican caviar. They taste creamy and have a wonderful soft texture,” said former Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers in Slate.

Locusts can be a tasty junk food.

Courtesy of EbayLocusts can be cooked in many different ways.

High in protein, zinc, and iron, locusts can be pan-fried, deep-fried, or even covered in chocolate, as noted in BBC. Locusts are said to have a sort of shrimpy, nutty flavour. They were even renamed “sky prawns” during an Australian swarm, according to Bugsfeed.

Beetles can be put in tacos.

The larval form of these bugs is a pretty common snack. Palm weevil, wood-boring larvae, and even mealworm are frequently eaten species, as noted in Very Well Fit.BBQ-flavored mealworms are for sale on Amazon, and they’re recommended as a taco topping.

Caterpillars can be served spicy.

Lilly M via Wikimedia CommonsDried caterpillars can be on the menu.

If you check out the street food in a city like Zambia, dried caterpillars might be on the menu, as noted in Travel Gluttons. They can be boiled, fried, or even smoked for extra flavour. Sometimes they’re served over a bed of spinach, collard greens, and hot peppers.

Wasps can be sweet.

Courtesy of Lou PiotoThe larvae turn purple and taste fruity.

This is another bug that’s apparently delicious in its larval stave. “Where you get blackberries the wasp adults will be bringing blackberries to the larvae, the larvae turn purple and if you eat those they have a distinctive fruity flavour,” said Patrick Honan, manager of Live Exhibits at Melbourne Museum, in ABC Radio Melbourne.

Dragonflies can apparently taste like crab.

Steven / FlickrDragonflies pair well with sautéed mushrooms.

Fried dragonfly is absolutely delicious, according to fans.

“I have been cooking bugs for about 20 years now, and in that time, I think I have settled on a fried dragonfly dish I call Odonate Hors d’oeuvre as my favourite dish to make and serve,” said Zack Lemann, Curator of Animal Programs at Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, in The Advertiser. “It turns out like a lightly fried delicacy atop a slice of sautéed mushroom with a drizzle of Dijon-soy butter. They are delicious and end up tasting like soft-shell crab.”

Cicadas can be cooked up to taste like popcorn.

istolethetv / flickrCicadas are usually cooked with garlic and salt.

Often cooked up in garlic and salt, cicadas are said to taste like seafood, popcorn, or bacon, as noted in The New York Times. Some snackers also enjoy these bugs raw.

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