Best Edible Insects and Bugs and The Ones You Should NOT Eat!

Best Edible Insects and Bugs and The Ones You Should NOT Eat!

By Jen Evansy / July 28, 2019

Gone are the days when the only source of protein were the big three meats. Now, people in the modern world are waking up to the fact that edible insects, bugs and worms are a fantastic source of nutrients. When prepared the right way, bug snacks are also a tasty treat worth indulging in.

🦗 Skip to my recommended tasty and crunchy insects snacks here>>> 

edible insects snacks

Edible insects are delicious and nutritious. They are eco-friendly, low in cost, and crunchy. They are appealing to adventurous, environmentalists and health obsessives alike.

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What Are Edible Insects Snacks?

Insects snacks are a pretty straightforward concept. Yep—they're snacks made up of edible bugs! They often come flavored, dried, fried and salted to appeal to our taste buds.

These bugs can serve as an appetizer, midday snack or post-workout protein. However you wish to consume your bug snacks, they're ready for the crunch.

Why Are Bug Snacks Becoming So Popular?

Thailand street market

Bugs have been a staple in eastern cuisine for longer than we can record. In places like Thailand, Mexico, and China people still set up market stalls with worms and crickets ready for the taking. In fact, hundreds of countries worldwide practice entomophagy (insect-eating). 

As proteins like pork, beef and chicken rose in popularity, bugs dwindled from the western conscience. Over time, Americans became fearful of the concept. However, with our current climate crisis and the need for alternative sources of nutrients, something has to give. That's where bug snacks come into play.

Bug farmers are paving the way for what is now a novel source of nutrition. With dried and preserved snacks made of edible bugs, they are able to provide food without using a tremendous amount of resources (much less than that of cows, for instance).


Are These Insects And Worms Safe To Eat?

Safe to eat insects

Any insect that's being turned into a commercial snack is going to be safe to consume. In fact, they're rather nutritious. Protein, vitamins and minerals are all a part of the insect picture.

Is there any way you'd encounter an issue eating bugs? Well, if you have a personal allergy, you may run into trouble. Otherwise, the only way would be to trek into the woods and pick up a critter without properly identifying it.


List Of Edible Insects

Edible bugs and worms

As it turns out, there are  2,111 species of insects on the planet that are safe for human consumption. Some of the most popular edible bugs include:

Edible insects in the world

Insects that are the most eaten:

  • crickets
  • beetles
  • butterflies
  • moths
  • bees
  • wasps
  • ants
  • woodlouse
  • bamboo borer
  • grasshoppers
  • cicadas
  • locusts
  • caterpillars
  • centipede
  • giant water bugs
  • worms
  • flies
  • scorpion
  • mosquitos
  • stinkbugs
  • and more...

And here I thought that mosquitos were good for nothing...

There are much more edible insects that I have listed above so don't worry you won’t run out of options any time soon. 

An average size insect is about half the protein by dry weight, with some insects, such as Crickets and Grasshoppers are up to about 72% protein.

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How Are Bugs Processed And Eaten?

The most common way to prepare insect snacks is by drying them. Depending on how close you are to a bug dealer, you can also serve them fresh by frying or sautéing.

Oftentimes, you'll find bug protein that's dried and powdered. I've even seen handmade tortillas crafted using cricket powder (you'd never guess the secret ingredient just by tasting it).

Let's Bug You With Some Facts…

  • Entomophagy is the human practice of eating insects. It's an ancient practice, and it's making one heck of a comeback.
  • Bamboo worms, non mai phai, are a Thai delicacy. During the rainy season, these worms come out to play. Some local markets will serve them fried and salted.
  • A serving of rhinoceros beetles has more protein than chicken and beef alike.
  • Grasshoppers contain more protein than beef. Grasshoppers have 72 percent protein content and all the essential amino acids. They also provide lipids, or healthy fats.
  • About 80% of the world's countries eat bugs. America is not one of them!
  • Australian aboriginals thought to steep weaver ant larvae in water to create a citrusy refreshment. So these bugs do more than just bite!
  • Silkworms can be bred in interplanetary orbit, so there's no reason astronauts shouldn't take the protein with them!
  • During the Khmer Rouge, Cambodians took to tarantulas. They haven't looked back since.
  • The UN is active in promoting bug snacks. The nation understands the environmental and social benefits of including insects in our regular diet.
  • In China's Shandong cuisine, deep-fried golden cicada—Zha Jinchan—is a must-try.

Try These Bug Snacks If You Know What's Good For You

Low in carbs, high in protein, and a great source of fiber, this fab range of critters below can be eaten straight from the packet as a nourishing snack or added to your food for an extra punch of protein.

Here are a few of the top contenders worth tying:

1. Mixed Bag Of Edible Bugs. Grasshoppers, Silk Worms, Sago Worms, And Mole Crickets

That mixed bag of yummy crunchiness would be my first recommended choice, especially if you have never knowingly eaten any bug before. This bag as a great selection of different tastes to help you discover you favorite one. Also, great fun to share with your kids. Don't hesitate, try them now. I know that you want to.

2. Thai Crispy Bamboo Worms

Another one of my personal favorites, bamboo worms take on any flavoring. These crispy bamboo worms can become an addictive treat.

3. Larvets - Seasoned For Snacking

When you were a kid and you were told not to eat bugs, your parents probably did not know that they can taste that good. Now that you are grown-up, you can start eating bugs without any fear of being told off. Make your coworkers jealous when snaking on these light and crispy whole mealworms.

4. Mexican Grasshoppers

With salt, garlic, chili and even some lemon flavoring, this natural and nutritious treat has a lot going for it. Great for foodies and adventurers. Try it now!

5. Roasted Crickets

These roasted crickets may not be your everyday chips, but they're just as good and far more proteinous. One of the main reasons I like to snack on these crickets is their nutty and really crunchy flavor. They leave a nice aftertaste and they have a very familiar texture. Have a try and comment below what you think.

6. Cricket Powder

Use it in protein shakes, in lieu of pre-workout formula or as a flour substitute in baked goods.

The great thing about this cricket powder is that it is gluten-free and full of nutrients. It is perfect for combining with regular cooking flour to use in your recipes. I suggest that you blend 1 part of cricket powder to every 5 to 10 parts normal flour.

And Stay Away From These Crunchy Critters

To save you some trouble, I am laying out a few insect snacks that just aren't worth your time:

  • Ladybugs - They're technically edible, but far from delicious. These creatures are best left to nature.
  • Weaver Ants - Many cultures enjoy the flavor of these ants. However, you need to consume so many of them to reap any sort of benefit.
  • Dung Beetles - There are many beetles worth trying, but the dung beetle is not one of them. Some call them an acquired taste, but why acquire it when you have so many other flavorful options?

A general rule of thumb is to avoid colorful bugs. Typically, these critters don't need to camouflage themselves in the wild due to their naturally bitter taste. There's a difference between edible bugs and tasty insects!


Dig Into Bug Snacks of Every Kind

Cricket and grasshopper snacks

If I could give you a single takeaway, it'd be to try something new. Even if bug snacks seem unsavory to your trained palate, know this: there are some seriously tasty treats worth munching on in the realm of edible bugs.

And if you encounter some snacks you're not so fond of, try something else. You're bound to unearth a worm or beetle that makes you drool!

Everything You Need To Know About Eating Insects

If you are still not convinced of participating in entomophagy then watch this video below. It is not only informative and very convincing but it will certainly get your taste buds going.

Check out a good selection of ready-to-eat insects and worms here>>>

In most western countries entomophagy (the practice of eating insect) is not widely practiced, however, 72% of Americans said that they would be willing to try edible insects.

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About the author

    Jen Evansy

    Nutritionists, researchers, and writers, interested in everything healthy-living related. Helping you identify the best diets, learn about food and nutrition, to help you live happier, longer and stronger.


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