– Can eating insects help fight hunger? 26 pages

Can eating insects help fight hunger and promote biodiversity?


Edible Insects
by Alison Fromme

Can eating insects help fight hunger and promote biodiversity?

Yes, but only if Westerners can get over “the yuck factor,” explains Gene DeFoliart, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and promoter of insects as food. Although people worldwide have been enjoying edible insects since ancient times, their value—in terms of both nutrition and conservation—is often overlooked by the modern Western world. And because Western tastes are so globally influential, people elsewhere may begin to shun insects as an important food source.

Would you eat these termites? In some areas of Africa, termites and other insects are fried and eaten as snacks. (Scott Bauer/ARS)

An estimated 2,000 insect species are consumed around the world, and people do not just eat insects, they relish them as delicacies. In Africa, caterpillars and ....  read more

Maguey worms

Maguey worms


A maguey worm (Aegiale hesperiaris) (Spanish: gusano del maguey, chinicuil) is one of two varieties of edible caterpillars that infest maguey and Agave tequilana plants.

The white maguey worms, known as meocuiles, are caterpillars of a butterfly commonly named “tequila giant skipper,” Aegiale hesperiaris.

They are found usually in regions of Central Mexico, on the leaves of Agave tequilana, Family Agavaceae plants, and not on cacti, as is often erroneously reported. Aegiale hesperiaris butterflies deposit their eggs at the heart of the leaves of agaves. The larvae then eat the flesh of the agave stems and roots, sometimes boring out the agave completely.

The red maguey worms are known as chilocuiles, chinicuiles or tecoles, and are the larvae of the moth Hypopta agavis. These infest the core and roots of the maguey plant, often in a glutenous mass. Along with agave snout weevil larvae, red maguey worms are one of the types of gusanos found in bottles of mezcal liquor from the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

In Mexican cuisine

When fully mature, these caterpillars appear fleshy-red and can measure up to 65 mm. They are considered a highly nutritious delicacy in Mexican cuisine. One 100-gram serving contains over 650 calories, or the equivalent of two plates of rice. While they are sometimes eaten alive and raw, they are also considered delicious deep fried or braised, seasoned with salt, lime, a spicy sauce and served in a tortilla.

Toloache’s Maguey Worm Tacos

With bugs in his tacos, how does chef Julian Medina keep three outposts of his Toloache so full of customers?Maguey-worm-02 Shouldn’t people be running out of there like they’re fleeing from those people-eating worms in Tremors? Don’t fear! Medina only cooks up his taquitos de gusanos as part of his seasonal Day of the Dead menu – they’re supposed to give you the willies. The dish, which features sautéed maguey worms, guacamole, mezcal butter and salsa de chile pasilla de Oaxaca, is truly for the brave. But if you choose to indulge, you’re not only getting a once-in-a-lifetime story to tell, you’re downing an excellent source of protein.

Note: bonus points to the horror movie fans who know that you shouldn’t run from the worms in Tremors – your footsteps are how they find you. You’re better off standing on a table and ordering another round of guacamole if they show up for dinner.

Mopane worms

Mopane worms


Gonimbrasia belina is a species of moth found in much of Southern Africa, whose large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans.

Mopane worm


Mopane worm
Where it’s eaten: Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe.
How: Many types of caterpillars are eaten all over the world. In parts of Africa, the specific type of fat blue-and-green spiky caterpillar that lives in the mopane tree is prized as a protein-packed free food. After being squeezed to expel green slime from its gut, the worm is dried in the sun or smoked and almost always served with sauce or in a stew to lend it some flavor.
Taste: Bland to buttery.

“Come try, it tastes like biltong” said the grinning waiter at the Boma restaurant in Victoria Falls. It was the right enticement, I happen to absolutely love biltong. But chewing on a grub? As fortune would have it, I had been wanting to taste a Mopane worm (Imbrassia belina) for some time, and it looked like the time was now. The mopane worm is not actually a worm, but a caterpillar. It’s a delicacy in some parts of Southern Africa and considered a bush food in others. But everyone agrees, it is highly nutritious and some regard it as truly delicious.

What Did the Mopane Worm Taste Like?
The Boma restaurant is a classic tourist venue set in the lovely grounds of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Dinner at the Boma is a legendary affair, with what looks like literally hundreds of local dishes served in buffet style, including impala terrine and sadza. A witchdoctor is available to tell your fortune by throwing his bones; dancers entertain with Shona and Ndebele acts; and then … there’s the vat of Mopane worms.

The worms were fried with tomatoes, onions and garlic, none of which really disguised the black head from the grubby, grey body. I popped it into my mouth and began to chew, and chew, and chew, and chew. The sucker was difficult to swallow and I had forgotten my water. The waiter beamed, his teeth were almost blinding in the light of the big braai fire that was roasting a tasty looking warthog. The initial taste of the Mopane worm wasn’t so bad, hidden by the garlic and onions. But as I continued to chew, the real flavor became unmasked and I detected a blend of earth, salt and drywall. It wasn’t very good. I did manage to swallow it finally and because this was a touristy affair, I even got a certificate to prove it. I value this certificate above the one I got for bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge.

More Facts and Fascinating Information About the Mopane Worm
Most people who enjoy Mopane worms obviously do not get certificates when they eat a solitary grub. Normally, you’ll see huge bags of dried and/or smoked Mopane worms in local markets throughout rural Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. They’re greyish looking when dried (after their green guts have been squeezed out) and at first glance you might think they’re a bean of some kind.

Mopane worms get their English name from hanging out on Mopane trees which are prevalent in Southern Africa. And they are not worms, but caterpillars, the larvae of the Emperor Moth. The best time to harvest them is when they are at maximum plumpness, late in their larval stage and before they bury themselves in order to re-appear as an Emperor moth. The Mopane worms like the Mopane tree, but they also feed off mango trees and other bushes. They are a seasonal delicacy, but you can also buy cans of Mopane worms soaked in brine in some local supermarkets. I looked around in vain for them at local Spars and Shoprites — but failed to find them on my last trip to the area. Great souvenir idea I thought.

Mopane (sometimes spelled Mopani) worms are called phane in Botswana, mashonja in Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa, and omangungu in Namibia. Nutritionally they pack a punch consisting of 60% protein along with good amounts of iron and calcium. Since they require little input in the way of resources, it has become a valuable and profitable source of food and income. In South Africa it is a muli-million Rand industry. I heard complaints about the smaller size of mopane in a rural market in Livingstone, Zambia. Most likely a case of harvesting them too soon. Deforestation and over-harvesting are both issues that are affecting the supply of mopane worms.

How to Cook Mopane Worms
A common way to eat Mopane worms is to fry them with tomatoes, peanuts, chillies and onions, like my delicious specimen. Here’s a decent recipe for dried mopane worms. They can also be added to a stew, boiled to soften them up, or simply eaten raw and fresh off a tree. When they’re fresh, they are obviously less chewy. I have not tried a fresh mopane worm yet, but when I was a young girl in Malawi, I did used to eat flying ants fresh and they did taste better than the fried variety.

Huhu beetle

Huhu beetle


The huhu beetle, Prionoplus reticularis is the largest endemic beetle found in New Zealand, a member of the longhorn beetle family (Cerambycidae).

Huhu is now often used as the name for all stages of life of the beetle, but traditionally huhu was the Māori name for the larval stage, which was also known as tunga rakau or tunga haere.[1] The whitish larvae are up to 70 millimetres (2.8 in) long and feed on dead wood of more than 14 species of gymnosperms and two angiosperms (Acacia mearnsii and Beilschmiedia tawa)[2]. The native host plants are all associated with lowland podocarp forest.[3]. They are edible, and are said by some to taste like buttery chicken.[4]

As the huhu reaches maturity it ceases to bore and casts its skin, this still edible stage is known in Maori as tataka. It then develops wings and legs, and while it is still white, it is known as pepe. Finally it emerges and flies off to reproduce and is known as a huhu beetle or to Maori as tunga rere[1].

The beetles are most active at night and are attracted by the lights of the dwelling. Though not usually aggressive, huhu beetles are known to bite when mis-handled.

Huhu grub


Huhu grub
Where it’s eaten: New Zealand.
How: Resembling big, fat maggots but treated as a delicacy in New Zealand, these fellas are eaten either as a raw snack or sautéed as a special meal by their fans — who find them burrowing into the rotting wood of tree trunks. The grubs eat the wood, making them rich in protein and therefore even more desirable.
Taste: Like peanut butter.

Stink bugs

Stink bugs

Pentatomidae, Greek pente meaning five and tomos meaning section, is a family of insects belonging to Stinkbug--01order Hemiptera including some of the stink bugs and shield bugs.[1] The scutellum body is typically half of an inch long, green or brown color, usually trapezoidal in shape, giving this family the name “shield bug”.[2] The tarsi are 3-segmented. The forewings of stink bugs are called hemelytra, with the basal half thickened while the apex is membranous (as are the hindwings). The stink bug, also called stinkbug, derives its name from its tendency to eject a foul smelling glandular substance secreted from pores in the thorax when disturbed; in some species the liquid contains cyanide compounds with a rancid almond scent. This is a form of antipredator adaptation.

The idiomatic term “stink bug” is also applied to distantly related species such as Boisea trivittata, the “boxelder bug”, and entirely different types of insects such as beetles in the genus Eleodes (“pinacate beetles”).

Many stink bugs and shield bugs are considered agricultural pest insects, because they can create large populations, which feed on crops (damaging production), and they are resistant to many pesticides. They are a threat to cotton, corn, soybeans, native and ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, weeds, and many cultivated crops.[3] However, some genera of Pentatomidae are considered highly beneficial: the anchor bug, which can be distinguished by the red-orange anchor shape on the adult, is one example. It is a predator of other insects, especially Mexican bean beetles, Japanese beetles, and other pest insects.

Spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris preying on larvae of Epilachna varivestis

Anchor bug (Stiretrus anchorago) valued as a predator on crop pests.

They also are commonly eaten in Laos, and are regarded as delicious due to their extremely strong odor. The insects are sometimes pounded together with spices and a seasoning to prepare cheo, a paste mixed with chilies and herbs.

There are several subfamilies, of which the Australian Aphylinae is often given family status, but is here retained as a subfamily, following Grazia et al. (2008).[4]

In some areas of Western Pennsylvania, particularly Oakland (Pittsburgh), stink bugs are referred to as “Freds”.


Where it’s eaten: Mexico, Southern Africa.

How: High in vitamin B but releasing such a stink that it has to be seeped out (by soaking in warm water) Stinkbug--02before being eaten, these critters are at the center of a Jumil Festival near Taxco, in Mexico. There, folks harvest the bugs in the woods and either eat them alive — they apparently live for a while even after being beheaded — or ground up with chiles in tacos, before crowning a Jumil Queen. In Africa, they are beheaded, squeezed (to empty out a green gland), and then boiled and sun-dried, and eaten as snacks.
Taste: Like a blend of cinnamon and iodine.

Silkworm Pupae

Silkworm Pupae


The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of the domesticated silkmoth, Bombyx mori (Latin: “silkworm of the mulberry tree”). It is an economically important insect, being a primary producer of silk. A silkworm’s preferred food is white mulberry leaves, but it may also eat the leaves of any other mulberry tree (i.e., Morus rubra or Morus nigra)[citation needed] as well as the Osage Orange. It is entirely dependent on humans for its reproduction and does not occur naturally in the wild. Sericulture, the practice of breeding silkworms for the production of raw silk, has been underway for at least 5,000 years in China,[1] from where it spread to Korea and Japan, and later to India and the West. The silkworm was domesticated from the wild silkmoth Bombyx mandarina which has a range from northern India to northern China, Korea, Japan and far the eastern regions of Russia. The domesticated silkworm derives from Chinese rather than Japanese or Korean stock.[2][3] It is unlikely that silkworms were domestically bred before the Neolithic age: it was not until then that the tools required to facilitate the manufacturing of larger quantities of silk thread had been developed. The domesticated B. mori and the wild B. mandarina can still breed and sometimes produce hybrids

Edible Thai Silkworm Pupae (Bombyx Mori)

Silkworm-01Silk worm pupae are used to make beautiful Thai silk garments, and they are edible too. The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of Bombyx mori (Latin: “silkworm of the mulberry tree”), the domesticated silkmoth. It is entirely dependent on humans for its reproduction and no longer occurs naturally in the wild. Also, as well as being a tasty snack, silkworms are a source of traditional Chinese medicine. Silkworm pupae can be eaten whole straight out of the bag. Silkworms are high in protein, low in fat and a great source of essential fatty acids. Ingredients: Silkworms, natural favouring. No preservatives or colours added.

Shelf Life is 12 months from date of manufacture.

Banana Worm Bread

Banana Worm BreadSilkworm-03


  • 1/2 cup shortening

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 bananas, mashed

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms


Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Rhino Beetles

Rhino Beetles

Dynastinae or rhinoceros beetles are a subfamily of the scarab beetle family (Scarabaeidae). Other commonRhino-Beetles-01 names – some for particular groups of rhinoceros beetles – are for example Hercules beetles, unicorn beetles or horn beetles. Over 300 species of rhinoceros beetles are known.

Many rhinoceros beetles are well known for their unique shapes and large sizes. Some famous species are, for example, the Atlas beetle (Chalcosoma atlas), common rhinoceros beetle (Xylotrupes ulysses), elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas), European rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes nasicornis), Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules), Japanese rhinoceros beetle or kabutomushi (Allomyrina dichotoma), ox beetle (Strategus aloeus) and the unicorn beetle (Dynastes tityus).

Edible Male Rhino Beetles.


Edible Male Rhino Beetles.

Rhino beetles, subfamily (Dynastinae) are among the largest of beetles. The male cheetles use their hats in Rhino-Beetles-02mating battles against other males. Rhinoceros beetles are also one of the strongest animals on the planet in relation to their own size. They can lift up to 850 times their own weight. Rhino beetles are most abundant at the end of the rain season when some are caught, collected and used as a protein rich food source.
This bag contains 2 or 2 (depending on size) beetles. They have been cooked and tossed in Thai herb seasoning (lemon grass, lime leaf, galingale and garlic). A little salt and soy sauce has been added also. They are then dehydrated and bagged.

Packed in special foil pouches with oxygen absorbers and moisture absorbers. The shelf life is 1 year from date of manufacture.



The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that iswasp-02 neither a bee nor an ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers, or natural biocontrol. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.

In Omachi, 120 miles northwest of Tokyo, there is a fan club Omachi Jibachi Aikokai (Omachi digger wasps lovers group) that has teamed up with a local biscuit maker to create jibachi senbei, or digger wasp rice wasp-01crackers. [Japansugoi]

Elderly wasp hunters from the village, who are mostly in their 80s, catch the insects in nearby forests, boil them in water, dry and sprinkle them over the cracker mix, which is then stamped by hot iron cracker cutters.

I think I can try one of this… it looks edible

Digger wasps are a kind of insect that can sting and paralyze other insects and feed on them.



Zaza-mushi: “Zaza-mushizaza, the sound of rushing river water, and mushi, insect — are the larvae of aquatic caddis flies.” – Man Eating Bugs. Zaza-mushi are boiled then sauteed in soy sauce and sugar inZaza-mushi-01 Japan.

Zazamushi 「ざざ虫」(Aquatic Insects)

Another widely available product in Japan, both canned and in restaurants, is zazamushi, the name for aquatic insects inhabiting gravel beds in rivers. Zazamushi is not a single variety of insect, but is a catch-all name applied to the larvae of insects that live at the bottom of rivers. The name “zazamushi” means insects (mushi) that live in a place where the river makes the sound “zaazaa” as it flows.

Many people love eating sushi, but would you eat bug sushi? You’ve got to admit that these look quite Zaza-mushi-02“artistic,” so long as they remain on the plate!

These delicacies have been a high protein food source for the Japanese for centuries. Many Japanese restaurants offer a variety of edible bugs, usually caught wild.

Scientists are trying to promote insects as an inexpensive source of protein especially with the spiraling costs of feed needed to farm cattle and other livestock.


Wichetty grub

Wichetty grub

The witchetty grub (also spelled witchety grub or witjuti grub[1]) is a term used in Australia for the large, Wichetty-grub-02white, wood-eating larvae of several moths. Particularly it applies to the larvae of the cossid moth Endoxyla leucomochla, which feeds on the roots of the Witchetty bush (named after the grubs) that is found in central Australia.[2] The term may also apply to larvae of other cossid moths, ghost moths (Hepialidae), and longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae). The term is used mainly when the larvae are being considered as food. The grub is the most important insect food of the desert and was[when?] a staple in the diets of Aboriginal women and children.

The different larvae are said to taste similar, probably because they have similar wood-eating habits. Edible either raw or lightly cooked in hot ashes, they are sought out as a high-protein food by Indigenous Australians. The raw witchetty grub tastes like almonds and when cooked the skin becomes crisp like roast chicken while the inside becomes light yellow, like a fried egg.

The word witchetty comes from Adynyamathanha wityu, “hooked stick” and vartu, “grub”. Traditionally it is rare for men to dig for them.[3] Witchetty grubs feature as Dreamings in many Aboriginal paintings. In Patrick White’s novel, Riders in the Chariot, a young Aboriginal boy thinks a flabby rector looks like he was “made out of old wichetty grubs” (pg. 366 in Avon Press 1975 reprint of 1961 novel). Once caught the grubs leak a brown water juice over fingers when held.

These larvae may also be called Bardi grubs, also spelled Bardy grubs, especially when they are being considered as bait by freshwater fishermen. The term bardi grub appears to have originally been used for larvae of the longhorn beetle (Bardistus cibarius), but fisherman along the Murray River more often apply the term to the hepialid moth larvae of Trictena[4] and Abantiades.

These grubs live about 60 centimetres (24 in) below ground and feed upon the roots of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). They can also be found under Black Wattle trees, and are attributed as the reason why wattles die within 10 to 15 years. The roots of the Acacia kempeana shrub are another source of the grubs.

Wichetty grub: Eaten by Aborigines in Australia, often roasted in coals or over a fire, wichetty grubs are high in protein and fat. According to Peter Menzel in Man Eating Bugs, “Witchetty grub tastes like nut-flavored scrambled eggs and mild mozzarella, wrapped in a phyllo dough pastry.” (Image via alwaysfoodie.com)Wichetty-grub-01