15 “Yummy” Bugs That Some Cultures Eat Every Day

Eating bugs might not fit your idea of a gourmet meal, but in many cultures outside of America, these critters are dietary staples. Ants, crickets, and yes, even tarantulas can be surprisingly tasty treats.

Considering their numerous health benefits and minimal environmental impact, perhaps it’s time for Americans to start considering incorporating insects into our diets as well.

1: Ants

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Leafcutter, honeypot, lemon, and carpenter ants are favorites everywhere from China to Brazil. They’re typically boiled to remove the vinegary flavor, then seared to a crisp, creating a snack that’s high in protein, iron, and calcium but low in calories and carbs. 

2: Crickets

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You’ll find cricket-based dishes in many countries, but Thailand arguably takes the crown for best cricket preparations. Thailand serves up crickets fried, mixed in curries, and even as the protein for Pad Thai. 

3: Grasshoppers

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Grasshoppers are high in protein and calcium. They’re also easy to catch. Though you’ll find them around the world, they’re especially popular in Mexico, where they’re sold oven-roasted or fried with wings and legs removed. 

4: Beetles

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People in the Amazon Basin and parts of Africa enjoy certain types of beetles, including rhinoceros, long-horned, and June beetles. Fried or roasted, beetles provide lots of protein and other nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin A, and lutein. 

5: Termites

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Termites can be roasted, fried, ground into flour, or brewed into tea. They’re so versatile they can even be filtered into a colorless oil. According to scientists, termites are higher in protein by weight than beef. 

6: Scorpions

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In China and Thailand, you might run into scorpions that are sold on sticks. Skewered, fried, and seasoned, some say scorpions taste similar to soft-shelled crab. Another popular preparation involves serving them smothered in white wine sauce. 

7: Tarantulas

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Cambodians enjoy fried tarantulas as a snack. The oversized spiders are marinated in salt and sugar, then fried and seasoned with garlic. When cooked, tarantulas gain a crispy outside with a gooey center. 

8: Grubs

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Those in the know often gravitate towards insects in their grub stage, for they tend to be better for eating. In Africa, the Goliath Beetle larvae, which live amongst banana tree roots, is a favorite. In Australia, they prefer the Witchetty grub, which eventually turns into a moth. 

9: Cicadas

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In Chinese lore, cicadas have a high status. But humans still take the cake for having higher status, for cicadas are a desirable treat in China and other cultures. People enjoy cicadas roasted, fried, and dipped in sauces. You can even eat them in caesar salads.

10: Dragonflies

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You’ll sometimes find boiled dragonflies in China, but for a tastier treat, look for the battered and deep-fried versions. Dragonflies are low in fat and high in protein, making them a relatively healthy treat, even when fried. 

11: Worms

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Earthworms are a delicacy in several cultures. High in copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and protein, worms are a squirming superfood just waiting to be boiled or smoked and enjoyed.  

12: Giant Water Bugs

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Giant water bugs are a common treat in Southeast Asia. Their essence is a necessary component to some nam prik sauces, but you can also enjoy them deep fried and salted. 

13: Silkworm Pupas 

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Eating silkworm pupae is standard in East Asia. After the pupa makes its cocoon, people heat it, which allows them to unwind the cocoon’s delicate silk strands. Once they’ve obtained the silk, they enjoy eating the pupae as a tasty snack. 

14: Caterpillars

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Caterpillars are an absolute delicacy in certain areas. In Mexico, giant skipper caterpillars are sold fresh in street markets or canned in stores. Typically, people fry them before consuming them. 

15: Shore Fly Pupas 

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Eating common house flies probably isn’t a good idea, but certain types of flies can make a tasty snack. Shore Fly pupae were enjoyed by Native Americans in the western United States back in the day.

An Ancient Practice

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Eating insects, which is called entomophagy, is common throughout human history. Cultures around the world have found many ways to make insects taste great. 

Remains Common Today

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According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), some two billion people use insects to supplement their diet. Insects are a staple in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, not because of food scarcity but because of their great taste. 

High in Protein

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Researchers agree that insects of all types are high in protein. Dried insects average 35%-60% protein, and fresh average 10% to 25%, making them much richer in protein than other animal sources by weight.  

Good For Survival 

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Insects are often easy to find and catch, making them ideal for human survival. The U.S. military even tells armed forces members to rely on insects in survival situations. Famously, fighter pilot Scott O’Grady survived on ants when his plane crashed in Bosnia. 

Great For Health

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Researchers say insects could be considered a superfood. The American Heart Association notes that edible insects are often high in fiber, B-12, zinc, and omega-3s. 

Earth-Saving

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Insects have high growth rates, reproduce quickly, and have a low environmental footprint, according to the United Nations FAO. This makes insects one of the most earth-friendly proteins you can consume. 

Changing American Perception

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Americans are often squeamish about trying bugs, but entrepreneurs in the insect field are hoping to change that. They hope the wide acceptance of plant-based meats will make Americans more open to other protein alternatives. 

Growing Market

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A recent report by Barclays says the edible insect industry could be worth $8 billion by 2030. In 2019, it was worth $1 billion. 

The Gateway Bug

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Many believe crickets will be the “gateway bug” for Americans. Cricket flour is already relatively popular with, cricket flour-based pastas and energy bars becoming more widely available. 

The #1 Food Each State Is Known For

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Before embarking on your next road trip, discover the most famous food each state is known for (and the foods that MUST go on your “to eat” list). Warning: You might regret reading this on an empty stomach.

The #1 Food Each State Is Known For

From Sea to Shunned

Basket of beets.
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Taste is subjective. But when it comes to food, residents of many states appear to agree that some foods are downright gross. These are the most hated foods in each state. Hint: Bugs don’t make the list.

From Sea to Shunned: The Most Hated Food by State

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