In certain cultures around the world, creatures like beetles, stink bugs, and grubs are not seen as pests, but as food items. In places where protein sources are rare, they are a vital part of the diet. Though they are relegated to game show gross-out props in much of the West, these creatures arequite eco-friendlyasfood. They consume relatively little, and do not require grazing land or antibiotics. Perhaps these crawling, wigglinganimalswill have a role to play in a greener future.
Giant Water Beetles
These beetles are fried or roasted and are said to have a flavor that isnot unlike scallops. They are a cheap treat in Thailand, where they are readily available in the wild and are eaten shells and all after being fried or roasted.
Caterpillars and Witchetty Grubs
Caterpillars are a popular food source because they are common over most of the world. They can be eaten raw, fried, baked or even dried and stored for use at a later date.
Witchetty Grubs have been a traditional food among Australia's indigenous community for centuries. This wood-eatinglarvae turns into a moth if it doesn't find its way onto the plate. They are either eaten raw or cooked in the ashes of a fire.
These arachnids are a popular food in Cambodia. Though the habit of eating spiders can be traced back to the scarcity brought on by the Khmer Rouge regime, the cooked spider trade still thrives in town's like Skuon, which is well known for its edible arachnids.
Crickets and Grasshoppers
These hopping creatures are considered pests by farmers, but are eaten after being cooked in a variety of ways. They are plentiful in the wild and are among the few insects that are actually dubbed "edible" in the West. Larger specimens said to have an earthy flavor, not unlike the plantsthey consume.
This cheese, made from sheep's milk, is famous for being infested with fly larvae. These worms are introduced to the cheese in order to aid fermentation. While some people remove the larvae prior to eating, many do not.
Mosquito eggs are easy to come by in many markets in Mexico. They are dried and roasted and eaten wrapped in tortillas or with a squeeze of lime or lemon. The eggs are taken from trees near waterafter they have been laid by water mosquitoes.
Termites, Ants, and Mopani (Mopane Worms)
Termites and ants are readily available around the world. Termites are a popular protein source inAfrica, where they can grow to three-inches in size. They are eaten raw and have a high amount of calories considering their size. Mopani, a caterpillar, is eaten after being dried or fried.
This insect is often considered a pest, especially to farmers. Its large, meaty body and pleasant flavor (if skillfully cooked) make it one of the world's favorite edible insects.
Bee Larvae and Bamboo Borer
Bee larvae are a prized snack foodin East Asia. Despite their "maggot-like" appearance, these baby bees are known for their earthy, slightly sweet taste. Bamboo borers, another bug that is considered a pest, has become a popular food source and is another example of turning a "pest insect" into food.
Edible Stink Bug
Shield-shaped stink bugs survive by sucking sap out of plants. Despite their name, not everyone finds their "stink" (a defense mechanism) to be foul. These large, allegedly sweet tasting, bugs are especially popular in regions of East Africa and parts of Mexico