11 Edible Bugs and How to Eat Them

Slugs, snails, crickets oh my! Join Miles Olson as he shares the ins and outs of gathering edible bugs for food.

| May 30, 2013

  • Lyrical, humourous, surprising, enlightening and thought-provoking by turns, "Unlearn, Rewild" will make you question what it means to be civilized. From edible insects to feral food preservation, Miles Olson offers radical sustainability skills and ideas for an uncertain future.
    Cover Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • While foraging, hunting, gardening and gathering for his livelihood, Miles Olson’s experiences have given him a unique perspective on "rewiliding," radical self-reliance, and the impact of civilization on the natural world.
    Photo Courtesy New Society Publishers

Picture a world where human exists, like all other things, in balance. Where there is not separation between “human” and “wild.” Unlearn, Rewild by Miles Olson (New Society Publishers, 2012) blends philosophy with a detailed introduction to a rich assortment of endangered traditional living skills. In this excerpt, Olson introduces bugs as food and offers a short list of edible insects.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Unlearn, Rewild.

A Handful of Edible Bugs

Where I live there are definitely edible insects, but not in the same variation and abundance as other bioregions. I’ve read accounts of Paiute food gatherers burning a field of grass to expose (and roast) large quantities of grasshoppers, and indigenous Peruvians harvesting large amounts of edible tarantulas (with large, fatty butts) from caves. The insects I mention here are widely distributed, but perhaps where you live there is an abundance of a certain edible species specific to that area? It’s worth looking into.

1. Eating Ants

Ants are the first wild animal I ever killed and ate, at the age of four. Most ant species are edible, their flavor is pleasantly sour. This is because ants secrete an acid when threatened, giving them a vinegar-like flavor. In Colombia ants are roasted with salt (crunchy salt-and-vinegar ants!) and eaten at feasts. The queen ants are preferred there, having big juicy butts (more fat). In Colombian folk culture, queen ants are said to boost libido.

Ant larvae are also fantastic, having no sour flavor. They can often be found in clumps under rocks, or on top of anthills when they are being moved or kept warm.

11/5/2018 8:25:43 AM

I'd like to know your recommendation for preparing ant larvae. And I'll share some insights on eating Black Soldier Fly larvae, which many gardeners are familiar with. Often called "grubs," they too are actually maggots. Black Soldier Flies often inhabit compost piles as the weather warms, looking something like Black Fly maggots but larger and pointed on both ends. Like Black Flies, they also eat meat, but there is no danger of disease transmission, as, unlike the Black Fly, the flies themselves do not have mouth parts and do not feed or sit around on contaminants like feces. The larvae emerge contaminant free. I've tried them toasted, but the large fat content (also high in protein) made me queasy. Dried and then toasted, though, they taste like almonds! As a bonus, they process mass amounts of garbage, and chickens benefit tremendously from a daily dose! Speaking of grubs, do you have any insight on those? We have lots of Japanese beetle larvae hanging out under ground in the US -- fat and juicy and hugely harmful. Tasty?

8/30/2017 6:27:11 PM

My grandma would make a "tea" with rolly pollies when she would get really sick with fever. I believe it did work and have tried it myself. She is now 93 and super healthy. She also use to put stones and sometimes iron nails in some soups.

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