Top 5 Insects That You Can Eat in the Wild
In an emergency situation, your best bet is to always be prepared with plenty of emergency food.
However, if you find yourself in a situation without food, it’s important to know how to use all the tools and skills at your disposal including how to find sustenance when you don’t have any.
If you got stranded on a mountain, could you find food? If there was a natural disaster and food was scarce, what would you eat?
If you know how to trap, hunt, or forage plants, you might be able to find food. Depending on where you are, however, you might not have a lot of options. But there is a food source that can be found in abundance almost anywhere you go.
There are an estimated 10 QUINTILLION bugs on earth. Not all of these can be eaten (and you certainly won’t find all of them in your geographical location), but compared to some other sources of food, they can be plentiful and easier to find.
Eating insects may seem off putting to you, but almost 2 billion people around the world eat bugs on a regular basis. In a survival situation especially, bugs can be an essential source of protein. Here are five insects you can eat in the wild and what you need to know about them.
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Eating crickets has become a popular trend in many parts of the world. They can be cooked in a variety of ways and have a nutty flavor that is often described as similar to popcorn or roasted nuts.
- Look for their habitat: Crickets are often found in grassy or wooded areas, as they prefer moist and warm environments.
- Try during the morning: Crickets move slower in the early morning which makes them easier to catch.
- Use traps: You can create simple traps to catch crickets using a container with a lid and bait, such as bread or vegetables. If you don’t have these tools, lay a shirt out and shake a branch over it to try and dislodge any crickets onto the shirt.
- Listen for their chirping: Crickets are known for their distinctive chirping sound, which can help you locate them.
- Clean the crickets: Rinse your crickets under running water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Remove the wings and legs: Crickets have wings and legs that are not edible and should be removed before cooking. You’ll also want to pull off their heads which will pull out the entrails. Removing the entrails helps reduce the risk of parasites.
- Cook the crickets: There are several ways to cook crickets, including roasting, frying, or baking. It is always best to cook your crickets because they can carry nematodes.
NOTE: To avoid poisonous varieties, don’t eat any brightly colored crickets.
Ants are probably the most common edible insect (which isn’t too surprising since there are over 12,000 ant species and can be found on every continent except Antarctica). They have a sour taste and are often used in salads or as a seasoning.
- Look for ant hills: Ants often build their nests or hills in sunny, dry areas such as fields or meadows.
- Follow ant trails: They often follow the same trail to find food and water, so following an ant trail can lead you to a colony.
- Check under rocks or logs: Ants often hide under rocks or logs to protect themselves from the sun.
- Look for ants on plants: Some ants feed on plants, so looking for them on plants or near flowers can help you find them.
- Clean the ants: Rinse the ants under running water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Remove the wings and legs: Ants have wings and legs that are not edible and can be removed before cooking.
- Cook the ants: There are several ways to cook ants, including roasting, frying, or boiling. Boiling them for about six minutes will neutralize the acid in their bodies. If your only option is to eat them raw, ensure they are dead first so they won’t bite you.
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Termites live most of their lives buried in wood which actually makes them less likely to carry parasites. They are high in protein and are often eaten roasted or fried. You are more likely to find termites in tropical areas, but they can still be found throughout the U.S. excluding Alaska.
- Look for termite mounds or rotten wood: Mounds are often located near trees or in areas with moist soil, but termites love wood so keep your eye open for rotten logs as well.
- Break open the wood: Use a stick or other tool to open the termite mound or just crack open the rotten wood.
- Focus on the “worker” termites: Worker termites are white, wingless termites responsible for gathering food for the colony. They will be easier to catch.
- Use a container or bag: Collecting the termites with some sort of container is preferable, but you can also use your hands if needed.
- Clean the termites: Rinse the termites in water and remove any debris.
- Roast in the oven: Spread the termites on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they are crispy.
- Cook in a pan: Alternatively, you can sauté the termites in a pan with some oil and season them with salt, pepper, or other spices.
What is a “grub” exactly? Grubs are the larval stage of various beetle species, including the June beetle and the Japanese beetle. These small, worm-like creatures have a mild, nutty flavor and a chewy texture when cooked, making them a popular snack in many cultures.
- Look for decaying wood: Grubs often live in rotting wood so look for fallen logs, stumps, and other decaying wood.
- Remove the bark: Use a stick or other tool to poke and pry at the wood, exposing any grubs that may be inside.
- Look for other moist areas: Under rocks or in compost piles are also potential hiding spots for grubs.
- Dig in the soil: Areas where there is a lot of organic matter on the ground may also house grubs in the soil.
- Clean the grubs: Rinse the grubs in water and remove any debris.
- Open fire cooking: Roast the grubs on a stick over a fire or grill until they are crispy on the outside.
- Sauté in a pan: Alternatively, you can sauté the grubs in a pan with some oil and season them with salt, pepper, or other spices.
Cicadas are large, winged insects with a hard exoskeleton that are known for their distinctive buzzing sound, which is made by the males to attract females during the mating season.
- Listen for buzzing: Male cicadas make a distinct buzzing sound in trees during the summer months.
- Look on vegetation: Cicadas will most often be found on trees, bushes, and other vegetation.
- After heavy rain or wind: Cicadas can also be found on the ground after heavy rain or strong wind.
- Clean the Cicadas: Remove the wings and legs from the cicadas and rinse them in water.
- Boil: Boil the cicadas for 5-10 minutes to kill any bacteria and soften the exoskeleton.
- Roast: Roast the cicadas on a baking sheet in the oven or over an open fire by skewering them on a stick.
- Sauté: Alternatively, you can sauté the cicadas in a pan with some oil and season them with salt, pepper, or other spices.
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It is important to note that some people may be allergic to certain insects, and it is recommended to try a small amount first to test for any adverse reactions. Additionally, it is important to know the risks associated with consuming wild insects and to seek guidance from an expert before consuming.