cicadas

cicadas

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A cicada (play /sɪˈkeɪdə/ or /sɪˈkɑːdə/) is an insect of the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha (which was formerly included in the now invalid suborder Homoptera), in the superfamily Cicadoidea, with large eyes wide apart on the head and usually transparent, well-veined wings. There are about 2,500 species of cicada around the world, and many of them remain unclassified. Cicadas live in temperate to tropical climates where they are among the most widely recognized of all insects, mainly due to their large size and unique sound. Cicadas are often colloquially called locusts, although they are unrelated to true locusts, which are a kind of grasshopper. Cicadas are related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs.

Cicadas are benign to humans under normal circumstances and do not bite or sting in a true sense, but may mistake a person's arm or other part of their body for a tree or plant limb and attempt to feed. Cicadas have a long proboscis under their head which they insert into plant stems in order to feed on sap. It can be painful if they attempt to pierce a person's skin with it, but it is unlikely to cause other harm. It is unlikely to be a defensive reaction and is a rare occurrence. It usually only happens when they are allowed to rest on a person's body for an extended amount of time.

Cicadas can cause damage to several cultivated crops, shrubs, and trees, mainly in the form of scarring left on tree branches while the females lay their eggs deep in branches.

Many people around the world regularly eat cicadas. They are known to have been eaten in Ancient Greece as well as China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, and the Congo. Female cicadas are prized for being meatier. Shells of cicadas are employed in the traditional medicines of China

Cicada: Periodical cicadas, primarily found in the Eastern US,  live underground for 17 years before emerging and molting into adults. Just after they molt, they have soft, juicy bodies, and are said to be very tender and delicious. Different species of cicada are also eaten in many Asian countries, such as Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia. (Image via huntingboots.com)

cicada-01I can see it now: villainousness droves of hungry, love-starved, red-eyed cicadas; so furiously flooding the sky they turn day into night, coming to pillage and plunder any unsuspecting person that gets in their way.

Having tried everything to combat the evil cicada forces, our hero decides the only way to stop the devastation and imminent destruction caused by this planetary menace is to take up his trusty frying pan, some spices, his favorite recipe pasted down for generations, and go “Julia Child” on the invading aliens.

So that might be more a plot to a ’70s B movie, but believe it or not, some people have decided to try just that. Whether it is a nice addition to their favorite ice cream, a tasty pizza topping, or delicately mixed into their pasta salad, people have been coming up with all kinds of ways to ingest these crunchy creatures.

Grab your favorite cooking utensils, and let’s show these cicadas who’s on top of the food chain.  To help, here are some links to recipes that are sure to help please your palate.

If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Eat ’em! (Cicada Recipes)

http://cicadainvasion.blogspot.com/2011/04/if-you-cant-beat-em-eat-em-cicada.html

Most experts agree that cicadas are a rich source of protein with about the same amount per pound as red meat. Cicadas are also said to be full of vitamins and minerals, low in fat, and they have zero carbs. So why aren’t more people eating them? Maybe because the thought of eating a bug makes you dry-heave!? But if you think about it, shrimp and crawfish are pretty much cicadas without wings. In fact, crawfish, lobster, crabs, shrimp, and insects are all part of the same biological phylum of arthropods.


Brave (or crazy folks) say cicadas are crispy and crunchy, with a nutty, almondlike, flavor. Iroquois indians have a long history of eating cicadas and considered them to be a delicacy.


The best time to eat cicadas is just after the nymphs break open their skin and before the exoskeleton turns hard. They are best harvested in the cool of the morning when the insects are more sluggish. Experienced gatherers focus on the adult females, each of which can contain up to 600 nutritious eggs.
Males tend to have hollow abdomens in order to help them make the cicada sound, and are better as a crunchy snack, like popcorn.


Cicadas can be cooked in a large frying pan in a way similar to popcorn. The taste is similar to the "crispy edges of the egg white of a fried egg." A popular way to prepare cicadas is to saute them in butter with crushed garlic and basil. Before you start your cooking you need to remove all the hard parts: wings, legs and head. These parts don’t contain much of the meat either but may be very sharp, so its best to get rid of them.

Cicadas can also be dry-roasted on a stick like a marshmallow over a fire. Other popular cicada recipes include Cicada Stir-Fry and Cicada Dumplings. Deep fried cicadas taste best when eaten with hot mustard or cocktail sauce. (Any sauce used for lobster should also work well to garnish cicadas.) Cicadas can also be roasted, which tends to give them a "nutty", or almondlike, flavor.
 
Cicada Tacos: 

Ingredients: two tablespoons butter or peanut oil, one and a half pound of cicadas, one teaspoon of chili powder, one tomato, finely chopped, one onion, finely chopped, one and a half table spoon ground pepper, one and a half table spoon cumin, three table spoon taco seasoning mix, one handful cilantro, chopped, Taco shells, Sour cream, Shredded cheddar cheese, Shredded lettuce.

Cooking instructions:
1. Heat the butter or oil in a frying pan and fry the cicadas for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
2. Remove from pan and roughly chop into 1/4-inch cubes/ Place back in pan.
3. Add the chopped onions, chilies and tomato, season with salt, and fry for another 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
4. Sprinkle with ground pepper, cumin and oregano to taste.
5. Serve in taco shells and garnish with cilantro, sour cream, lettuce and cheddar cheese. 

cicada-02Mole crickets (Gryllotalpidae) are thick-bodied insects about 3-5 cm (1-2 inches) long, with large beady eyes and shovel-like forelimbs highly developed for burrowing and swimming. Mole crickets are omnivores, feeding on larvae, worms, roots, and grasses. They are relatively common, but because they are nocturnal and spend nearly all their lives underground in extensive tunnel systems, they are rarely seen. Mole crickets are a popular and nutritious snack in Thailand. When shallow fried or baked and mixed with Thai herbs or other seasoning they have a pleasant taste and contain a good source of protein and vitamins.cicada-021jpg

Crackers and Cheese Dip with Candied Crickets

Crackers and Cheese Dip with Candied Crickets

Ingredients:cicada-04

  • 8 oz. cream cheese

  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

  • 1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

  • 2 tsp. chopped onions

  • 1 tsp. chopped green pepper

  • 2 tsp Miracle Whip®

  • candied crickets

Directions:

Soften cream cheese. Introduce remaining ingredients.

Spread mixture on cracker and top with a candied cricket.