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From Thailand to Europe, edible insects are everywhere

World Tour for edible bugs eater!

In 2010, according to estimates drawn by the FAO (United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture), 2.5 billion people across a hundred countries were already eating edible insects. This practice has been mainly concentrated around the Asian and African continents.

There is a simple reason for that, people residing on these two continents suffer from poverty and undernourishment. No less than eight hundred million people are directly or indirectly affected by malnutrition, forcing them to consider edible insects as more than just a delicious food but also as an affordable one. Being rich in proteins can't hurt either.


Africa and its love for caterpillars

Termites and caterpillars are two edible bugs mostly eaten in Africa.

In Central Africa, Mandjas is an ethnic group known for its catching techniques and its love for termites. They eat them during grand ceremonies where the whole tribe is involved. At the end of the ritual ceremony, at the beat of drums, women eat the queen termite - filled with eggs. Doing this is supposed to bring them youth and fertility.

On the Reunion Island, off the coast of Madagascar, it is the larvae mason wasps which are very popular. Especially during the austral summer. They eat them fried or in a recipe called 'rougail', where they are mixed with tomatoes and spices.

In Zambia this time, caterpillars are often the main source of protein on any given day for certain ethnic groups. Caterpillars are consumed at the start of November until the end of February. During the wet season trade is flourishing between tribes just for them. Termites are also one of the favorite foods for other tribes who consider themselves superior to beef or fish.

Now in Burkina Faso, eating caterpillars is also a widespread habit and you might find them along markets' stalls where they are sold roasted over a bed of coals and peanuts and are consumed accompanied by a cup of green tea. Around Johannesburg, South Africa, it is common to find bags of dried caterpillar or canned, cooked with a tomato sauce. In Madagascar, larvaes of a local wasp are fine delicacies fried with butter, garlic and parsley.

As you can see, in Africa, be that in rural or urban areas, eating bugs is a widespread practice. It is part of their culinary traditions and is deeply appreciated for their flavor and all the nutrient intakes as well as the economic advantages these people can benefit from eating them. It should also be noted that eating edible bugs in Africa cannot be only imputed poorness because in countries like Zimbabwe and Botswana, some edible insects are more expensive than traditional meat!


Asia and edible insects

Mainly located in the southern countries of this continent, entomophagy in Asia is also a diet practiced through traditional medicine. In Laos, people fry grasshoppers, boil scorpions and roast spiders. Giant water bugs are mashed, mixed with vegetables and other condiments to create a sauce called "nam prik mangda" which is used to accompany rice or vegetables.

In Cambodia and Thailand, it is usual to find market stalls specialized in edible insects, grilled or steamed. Even in traditional places like in Japanese and Chinese restaurants, you can order crysalized silkworm whose taste is close to that of cashew nuts. Dried, they can also be consumed in an omelette with onion. You can find some in modern South Korea where you can find them in local markets where they are sold canned.

In Indonesia, more specifically in Java or Bali, eating ants is a practice with medicinal overtones. In fact, they are steamed with boiling water and eating them would be beneficial in fighting diabetes.



Entomophagy is not yet widespread in Australia or New Zealand, but it retains an undeniable interest for some people who still practice it. They are called Aboriginal, native Australians, and they are really fond of "honey pot" ants. They contain honeydew in their torso, a substance rich in sugars and amino acids. Aboriginals consume them like candy.

Anxious to help protect their biodiversity, they also feed on caterpillar parasites attacking Kampeana acacias.

As for New Caledonia, a festival is held every year in the city of Farino to celebrate the Bancoule worm, which takes its name from bancoulier, a tree on which it feeds. A competition is set up to reward whoever eats the biggest portion (they can measure up to 10cm long and 2cm in diameter).

On this occasion, Bancoule worms are dipped in pastis and butter. Which attract many gourmets.


America and its crickets

The vast majority of people eating insect are located in south America. Mexico to be more precise, where it is not uncommon to have a drink or two with the caterpillar of a butterfly destroying agave Hypopta. It will be served fried and you'll enjoy them with ant eggs dipped in garlic sauce.

Known as the Mexican caviar, ahuahutle are eggs of water bugs that will delight your tastes. Some restaurants offer tortillas accompanied by fried insects. But this is without taking into account locusts, where eating them is very popular as well as very common in Mexico.

Colombians, meanwhile, are more interested in leafcutter ants.


Europe and entomophagy

Although Greek and Roman reveled in eating cicada and beetle larvae, eating bugs never really took roots in Europe. For reasons both cultural and sociological.

However, the Netherlands has led the way in funding insects farms. However, awareness is still emerging and only in France are we able to see people starting to eat them regularly. Everywhere else in Europe, initiatives to inform consumers about the many benefits of this diet are ongoing.