4 Insects You Can Eat Year-Round

What? Eating that grub doesn’t sound appealing? Well it might keep you alive. I ate a hazelnut grub when I was learning how to prepare acorns (article link on using acorns as a survival food here) and it wasn’t bad! Of course it was small. I’d have a much harder time eating a grub the size of my thumb. I know it’s just a cultural thing though.

I’ve also eaten crickets at a Mexican restaurant and it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t want to look too closely at the eyes, legs and antenna before popping them in my mouth! The people who know that I ate a grub (actually, I ate more than one!) tell me that they would do it only in a life or death situation. They weren’t interested in eating one “just to try it.” So what do you think? Would you actually eat grubs or other insects if you really needed to? If so, here are 4 insects you can eat all year-round. There are nearly 2,000 edible species of insects around the world, and many of them people already eat. It’s not a weird thing.

1. Ants and Termites

There are a wide variety of ants available in all corners of the globe. There are even ants in India that are used to make a lemony sauce! Most ant species are edible. I would avoid fire ants. According to National Geographic, 100 grams of red ants provides some 14 grams of protein (more than eggs), nearly 48 grams of calcium, and  iron, among other nutrients. It’s hard to find a credible source online of what specific ants you can eat in the US (plenty of info about the Australian honeypot ant and the Amazonian lemon ant — helpful to know if you’re ever lost in the jungle or on a walkabout. If anyone knows a credible list of ant species that are edible and identification let me know.

2. Earthworms 

These are abundant and easy to both harvest and grow. The squiggly creatures can be eaten both raw or cooked–although cooked sounds a lot more pleasant to me. Plus, insects including worms can carry parasites so cooking them lessens your chances of catching something. Suggested preparation is to boil them first to remove the slime, and change the water a few times until it remains clear as you continue to boil them. Then, roast then, fry them, freeze them or dehydrate them. Grind the dried ones into flour. That could be the most appetizing way to consume them. If you can, let them eat something clean like potato or corn meal for a few days before you consume them.

3. Maggots

Not super appealing, but if there’s a dead thing there’s going to be maggots. Many insects that are edible (snails, crickets, grasshoppers etc) are only available in the warm months for most people in the US, so a bug like a maggot is one that you can find all year round. Harvest them from meat that’s been left hanging too long, and spread them on toast.

4. Roly Polys (Sowbugs, Pillbugs)

These critters that roll themselves into a ball are ubiquitous under rocks or rotten pieces of wood. Once you collect a handful of them, boil them. If you can, let them eat something clean like potato or corn meal for a few days before you consume them.