Time to Grub: 12 Edible Insects That Could Save Your Life

August 17, 2018

For many, just the thought of eating one of our creepy crawly insect friends is enough to make their stomach turn. When you’re stuck in the wilderness without any sign of your next meal, you might reconsider. The following insects can all be eaten to provide you with a crucial source of protein and nutrients, as long as you prepare them correctly. You never know, one of these insects might just save your life.

12. Ants

These tiny colonizers can be found pretty much anywhere on Earth. While they might be small, these little guys pack a lot of protein and could really save the day. Collect as many as you can in a small container of water so that they drown, and then boil them for at least 6 minutes to neutralize any chemicals in their bodies, and bon ant-étit!

11. Cockroaches

Cockroaches can also be found in just about any environment. A careful distinction: don’t eat the ones you see running around your friend’s dirty apartment! There are plenty of species of cockroaches that are edible, and the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is even said to taste like fried chicken. Once you’ve caught several, boil, fry, or roast them up before crunching down on your roachy entree.

10. Dragonflies

Both the larvae form and adult form of dragonflies can be eaten. Larvae are usually found in shallow water, making them easy to scoop up with your hands. However, you might need a net or a sticky twig to catch an adult. Cook them up for a few seconds to kill off any bacteria, and you’re good to go! If you’re in the mood for wings, they’re edible as well, although it might make the dragonfly a bit harder to swallow.

9. Earwigs

If you’re anything like me, you want earwigs as far away from your head as possible. But when you’re facing starvation alone in the wilderness, they might just end up being your best friend. Supposedly, their pinch isn’t strong enough to break the skin but once you sautee them over the fire for a few minutes, their crispy pinchers can’t hurt you anymore, and now you have a delectable morsel to hold yourself over til you’re rescued.

8. Earthworms

The way earthworms move across the ground is pretty much exactly what my stomach feels like at the thought of ingesting one. Nevertheless, these creepy crawlers are definitely edible. In an emergency, they can be eaten raw, but if you have time to spare, cooking them for a few minutes can help to kill off any potential parasites. Oh, and make sure to squeeze out the poop first!

7. Grasshoppers/Crickets

Almost all types of grasshoppers and crickets are edible and incredibly protein-rich. Because of this and the fact that it’s 2018, grasshopper flour has experienced a boom of popularity in recent years and can be purchased at the store. Before dry-roasting them or charring them over an open fire, make sure to remove the head which should pull all the guts out as well. This should minimize your chance of catching parasites (in addition to cooking!).

6. Grubs

If the extent of my experiences with eating grubs never moved past watching The Lion King, I would not be upset. With that being said, if I were stranded in the forest with an ample supply of these baby beetles, I probably wouldn’t have to think twice about grubbing on some in order to save my skin. To cook these juicy morsels, just skewer them onto a long stick and roast them over an open fire until they’ve reached desired crispiness. Time to grub out.

5. Maggots

Similar to grubs, maggots are the baby form of flies. Usually found on rotting meat, fruits, and vegetables, you’ll definitely want to boil or saute these to prevent yourself from getting sick. Once they’re cooked up, these babies can keep you nourished until you find your way to safety.

4. Termites

There’s a reason that anteater’s developed such an incredibly long tongue, and it’s so they can suck all these protein-packed little suckers out their mounds. If you can’t find a mound, you should have luck turning over rotting wood and shaking any of the creepy crawlers out. Once fried up nice and crispy, these guys will give you quite the nutritious snack.

3. Roly-Polies/Woodlice/Pill Bugs/Potato Bugs/???

You know those tiny little grey bugs that crawl around and then roll up into a ball in self-defense with a million different names depending on where you’re from? They’re actually not even bugs at all; these mini armadillos are actually North America’s only land-loving crustacean, the same animal family as crabs, lobsters, and barnacles. Make sure these little ‘pills’ are boiled thoroughly in water to kill off any potential parasites. But once they’re ready to eat, roly-polies are said to taste incredibly similar to shrimp. Does anybody have any cocktail sauce?

2. Scorpions

These eight-legged demons of the desert truly do define creepy crawler. While a sting isn’t strong enough to kill a healthy human, it does pack a painful punch. With that being said, scorpions are commonly eaten as street food around the world. You’ll need to cut off the end of the tail to remove most of the venom and the stinger, but once roasted over an open fire or some coals, this crunchy snack is said to taste a lot like crab. The main difference is: a crab won’t send nerve pain shooting through your body if you get too close to its tail.

1. Stink Bugs

I’m sure even after reading this list, stink bugs are probably dead last on your personal list of things you’d want to eat. But if you’re stuck on your own, that stinky pest might sound slightly more appetizing. These smelly morsels can be consumed raw, but soaking them in water for 5-10 minutes before dry roasting them in a pan is said to help remove some of the iodine flavor. Yum!

With any luck and proper preparation, you’ll hopefully never find yourself in a situation where you find yourself with the option: eat bugs for dinner or die. However, I bet you didn’t wake up this morning expecting to read a menu full of edible insects (or about how insects are inspiring the new generation of smartphone tech). Now, go explore confidently knowing that even if you run out of food, Mother Earth provided us with a delectable smorgasbord of crawling critters to keep us alive just in case.