Food Preservation

Bugs, Insects, and a Spider You Can Eat for Survival

Insects for survival-

If you were lost in the wilderness or had no access to food due to a natural disaster, would you know which bugs, insects, and spider you could eat for survival?

Crickets 

These creatures contain calcium and a high level of protein.  You can eat them boiled, fried, sautéed, raw, or roasted.

Toxic CRICKETS

Grasshoppers

Multicolored ones are usually toxic, so look for ones that are black, brown, or green.  They are typically eaten roasted, but it is okay to consume them raw if the guts are removed.  With either method, most people prefer to remove the legs and wings before eating.

Caterpillars

Caterpillars are hairy or hairless, but either way, they are low in fat, high in protein, and in B-vitamins such as niacin and thiamine.

June Bugs

This beetle is found in populated cities such as Denver, Colorado, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  During the day, they are found on the forest floor or under plants, and late in the evening, June bugs crawl on plant leaves. They are slow movers which allows them to be easily caught.  The green June bug species is also edible.

Mealworms

Mealworms hatch from eggs laid by darkling beetles.  They are nutritious and taste like nuts or roasted seeds.

 

Grub Infographic

Termites

Like caterpillars, these insects are high in protein, but you have to eat quite a few due to their size.  In North America, they are usually found on damp, dead wood.  They are best when roasted with a pinch of salt and have their wings removed.  An easy way to capture them is to set out a bowl of water underneath a light fixture.

 

Termitesare an excellent sourceof protein

Centipedes

While you are searching for termites, keep a look out for centipedes.  You will likely find them on trees and under logs.  Remove the centipedes head and pinchers prior to eating.  Do not confuse them with millipedes which are poisonous.  Centipedes are larger and have less legs.

Ants

They are a good source of food, but it is best to avoid the fire ants because they can leave behind painful bites. The easiest way to catch them is to dig into an ant hill and scoop them into a container.  After you separate them from the dirt, boil them in a shallow pan to remove the vinegar flavor they have before they are cooked.  If you like a vinegar taste or do not have the means to boil them, it is safe to eat them raw.

Scorpions

In the United States, scorpions are usually found in southern desert locations.  You will find them in holes on trees, under rocks, or on the soil.  When you find a scorpion’s hole, dig a larger one next to it, and place a glass bottle or plastic container in the hole.  The insects will crawl into it upon leaving their home.  It is best to remove them from the bottle or container with a knife or sharp stick.  Then carefully remove their venomous tail before eating.  They can be grilled in a pan, roasted over a fire, or eaten raw.

Bees

Adult bees are usually roasted, and the larva is baked or fried.  The larva’s flavor ranges from nutty to caramel.

Cicadas

Periodical cicadas are found only in the Eastern United States and can live underground for 17 years before coming to the surface.  Other cicadas are found annually, and are brown, black, and green.  It is best to fry them, and they are softest and most delicious right after they molt.

Dragonflies

The wings are generally removed before being boiled, fried, or grilled.  A popular means of preparation is boiling them in coconut milk with ginger and garlic.  Another option is to dip them in eggs before cooking.

Pillbugs

These terrestrial crustaceans are related to lobsters, crab, and shrimp.  The best tasting pillbugs are ones that curl into a ball when bothered.  You can find them under logs and rocks, or in basements.

Praying Mantis

These are best when young and tender.  Most people prefer them fried, and they taste like a cross between shrimp and mushrooms.

Rhino Beetles

These beetles are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they are black, green, or gray.  They are high in calcium, protein, and phosphorous, and eaten fried, grilled, or roasted.

Tarantulas

In the United States, wild tarantulas are found only in the southwest.  They have a nutty flavor and taste best if they are well-cooked with garlic, oil, and salt.

Giant Water Bugs

They are one of the largest insects in the United States, and are only found in the northern part of the country. Water bugs are usually seen in late summer or early fall, and taste best when eaten whole, steamed or fried. When they are raw, water bugs smell like green apples, and after they are steamed, they have a banana like aroma.  These bugs bite, so handle them with care.

Waxworms

Waxworms are the larvae of the waxmoth.  In the wild, they live off of bee larvae, and are usually roasted or sautéed .

Mole Crickets

Mole crickets like bright lights and are easy to catch because they are not great fliers.  If you cook them without oil or flavoring, they will taste a bit like liver.  After cooking, you can eat them whole, but usually the claws, legs, and wings are removed.

Never eat a bug, insect, or spider unless you have positively identified it. Scientists warn that insects with bright colors such as orange, yellow, and red are generally not safe to eat. If you would like to learn more about this topic or about other survival tips, please visit our website.

 

Insect eating infographic

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