Good bug bites

Joost van Itterbeeck at The Conversation tells us which edible insects he thinks are best.

As you know I purchased some bug bites. My favourites so far are the barbecue-spiced mealworms (Tenebrio molitor). Harvey Nicks calls them ‘worm crisps’ but they’re beetle (coleopteran) larvae. Here’s a film about this beetle. Isn’t it adorable when it emerges from its pupa? But the ones I’ve been eating, and offering around at work, never made it to that age. Some people at work tried them and remarked that the mealworm itself has no obvious flavour but the spices are nice. I’m interested in this species because Mr van Itterbeeck says that the larvae’s ‘overall nutritional value is comparable to beef’, they grow well in European climates and they’re good for the land.

He says, ‘Importantly, the ecological footprint of mealworm production is much lower than that of beef, but also milk, chicken, and pork production. Although the production of mealworms requires similar amounts of energy, it has lower emissions of greenhouse gasses (for example less methane that you’d get in rearing cows) and requires much less land. Water use is also much lower.’

The other insects I’ve been eating are house crickets (Acheta domesticus). These are Orthoptera so they don’t pupate but the ones I purchased, baked with green curry spices, were small enough that I think they were nymphs. That means young lifecycle stages. Mr van Itterbeeck says that Orthoptera are the best source of insect protein. I quite liked them but their carapace made them very crunchy, like nuts with their husks on.

Here’s a Dutch company selling edible insects. These people mass-rear mealworms and other species, but no crickets that I can see. Here’s another company selling edible arthropods, including insects. Try some?


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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