Bugs You Can Eat for Survival
Have you wondered if there are bugs you can eat for survival? If you’re like me, you might have felt a bit squeamish watching Timon and Pumba rustle up some grub when you watched The Lion King several years ago. Or perhaps you’ve seen past shows like Fear Factor that encouraged their contestants to eat all sorts of creepy-crawly bugs just to make it to the next round.
At the time, your stomach may have felt like it was doing backflips and somersaults and your gag reflux was probably working overtime. It’s hard to believe, but nearly 2 billion people living on the other side of the world would have been wondering what all the fuss was about.
Being in survival mode means you’re faced with all sorts of issues, and finding food to eat is one of the more critical things you’ll deal with. In this post we hope to outline some options you might not have considered.
Bugs You Can Eat For Survival
That’s right! More than 1/4 of the world’s population eats bugs on a regular basis. Did you know that bugs and insect eating happens to be the number one source of abundant protein on the planet? They’re also densely filled with important nutrients like omega 3’s. Now, I’m not saying that you should head out into your yard and start grilling up a cricket shishkabob after you finish reading this.
But, if you’re ever caught in the middle of a life-or-death survival situation, eating bugs may be your only option. So let’s dig in, shall we? These are bugs that you can actually eat for survival. Even WEB MD gives you a list of edible bugs to try out, and they’re a reliable source for many medically related concerns.
Out of all the insects on this list, ants are the easiest to find. They can be found pretty much everywhere! But it’s going to take a large army of ants for you to get even a small snack out of the deal, so you’ll need to catch a bunch to make the meal meaningful with the satisfaction from feeling full standpoint.
How to Catch Ants
All you need to do is grab a stick and hold it over an anthill or a rotting log that’s covered in ants. Several dozen of them are sure to climb onto the stick and that’s when you place the stick in a container that’s filled with water. They’ll fall off the stick and then you can repeat this simple process several times until you have enough.
How to Eat Them
But before you shove a handful of them into your mouth, I’d encourage you to boil them for at least 6 minutes first. That way, the acid in their bodies becomes neutralized. If you have to eat them raw, at least make sure they are dead so that they aren’t biting your tongue while they’re in your mouth.
Crickets and Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers and crickets are full of protein and other nutrients and aren’t too difficult to find. If the thought of pulling grasshopper legs out of your teeth is too much, you can actually find cricket powder or flour while shopping at certain grocery stores if you want to experience what they taste like.
How to Catch Crickets and Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers tend to move more slowly during the hours of the early-mornings, so that’s the best time to catch them. Crickets like to hang around in dark, damp places like logs, rocks, under tree bark, and other objects usually close to the ground. Both of them can be caught by hand, or you could also lay out a wool blanket in a field that’s teeming with them. Their feet will get caught in the fabric and you should be able to snag them up.
How to Eat Them
If you have a weak stomach, you may want to have someone else prepare them for you. You’ll want to remove their heads, wings, and legs. The entrails should come out when you remove their heads. You can then roast them in a pan or directly over a flame. You may question the insect’s edibility, but trust the source!
For the most part, grasshoppers are safe to eat, but there are a few specimens that you should avoid. Don’t try and eat brightly colored grasshoppers, or the eastern lubber. This grasshopper specimen is common in Texas as well as several other southern states. While they won’t necessarily kill you, these types of grasshoppers will make you sick.
Grasshoppers don’t produce venom, but some are known to bite. If the bite gets infected you could experience some real pain and possible complications. Make sure you clean out the bite area, wash the area with soap and water, if it swells you should apply a cold pack, and if you experience some pain a good remedy is ibuprofen.
Ah, yes! Grubs. I bet you couldn’t wait to learn more about this next one. Grubs are the larval stage of beetles and there are at least 344 different species that we know about. There are some types larvae that are fat and juicy while others are smaller and crunchier. Which texture do you prefer?
How to Catch Grubs
Grubs can typically be found inside rotting logs, under leaves, and even rocks. But they can also be found on living trees and in grassy areas of your yard. Grubs aren’t fast, so you should be able to pick them up with your hands quite easily. Wear gloves if you have to.
How to Eat Them
You should skewer your grubs on a stick lengthwise and then place them over an open flame. Once their skin is nice and crispy, you’re good to go. Bon appetit! Insect-eating isn’t so weird when you know what edible bugs are available!
You might have grown up calling them “roly-polies”, but did you know that woodlice aren’t actually bugs at all? They happen to be the only living terrestrial crustacean in North America and have a taste that’s been said to be similar to shrimp. Yum yum!
How to Catch Woodlice
Woodlice are very easy to find. Simply overturn damp logs or rocks, or dig through some dead leaves and you should come across some. If they feel threatened, they’ll scrunch up into little balls and won’t even try and make a run for it. Scoop them up with a mason jar and then add the lid.
How to Eat Them
Woodlice may be carrying parasitic roundworms, so you should always boil them in water before eating them. Once they’ve been cooked, strain the water, then go ahead and eat.
Earthworms are another one that isn’t actually considered a bug, but they too are edible. Although slimy, some people will even tell you they taste just like chicken. But be sure to squish out all their poop before you decide to toss one of them in your mouth. As with other insects and bugs, you’ll want to cook them in most cases, and that includes the time it takes to shake off any dirt and debis and washing them before their cooked.
How to Catch Them
The best time to catch earthworms is after it rains because they’ll be everywhere. And if it hasn’t rained, you can still find them when you dig around in damp soil. They don’t exactly crawl around at Speedy Gonzalez speed so you shouldn’t have much difficulty catching them.
How to Eat Them
Earthworms can be eaten raw, but it’s best to cook them if you’re able to. That way you’re safe from any parasites they may have been carrying. If you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around the idea of actually eating them, try and imagine them as nature’s spaghetti. Maybe that will help you swallow them a bit easier.
You might wonder if earthworms and night crawlers are the same. Actually, they are two different types of worms. Night crawlers are nocturnal and search for food at night, thus the name. They are made up of segments or sections, some with a different color. They can be good for your garden and lawn since they make holes that allow water and fertilizer to sink into the soil.
Earthworms are generally found during the day and they like decaying leaves shrubs, and grasses. They aren’t segmented and tend to have one color throughout their bodies. They also can be good for gardens as they eat the dead plants and then fertilize the soil with their castings (poop).
More Bugs You Can Eat
There are so many other types of bugs on the planet that are actually safe for you to eat. Listed below are a few other ones for you to think about if you’re ever in a survival situation and they can be found in your location. Generally speaking, you’ll want to cook each of these speces before eating them to not only change their texture, but to kill any possible bacteria or parasites they could carry.
- Scorpions – careful, they can sting you.
- June bugs as larvae (white grubs) and adults
- Pill bugs – actually are a crustacean like a crab and taste great. Often called roly-poly bugs.
Bugs To Avoid
The following are bugs that you should avoid eating, whether it’s due to the risks that come with catching them or the chances of certain of these species being toxic.
- Bees, hornets, and wasps
- Slugs and snails
- Tarantulas and other spiders
These bugs don’t often have the nutty flavor that so many other edible bugs have! There are some bugs that you shouldn’t eat because of the bacteria. Like, you probably shouldn’t be snatching mosquitoes out of the sky and making a salad out of them. However, crickets make for great cricket flour, which can be used in a multitude of recipes.
What kind of nutrients can be found in the bugs and insects you eat?
Although each bug or insect is different in size, taste, texture, and health benefits, you can gain a number of nutrients when eating them. They are knows to have B vitamins, iron, zinc, essential amino acids, antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and fiber.
More Food Tips
- Foraging: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Food in the Wild
- Camping Tips for Survival
- The Best Herbal Plants to Grow for Homemade Tea
My hope is that you all found this to be incredibly enlightening as I discussed bugs and which ones you can and cannot eat. But you don’t need to worry! Eating bugs is not a hobby of mine but it’s always good to know which ones are edible, especially if there’s nothing else available to survive off of. What did you find interesting about bugs you can eat for survival? May God Bless this world, Linda
Copyright Image: Lawn Grubs AdobeStock_506967044 By JJ Gouin, Earthworms AdobeStock_416815495 By lllonajalll
33 thoughts on “Bugs You Can Eat for Survival”
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! LOL!!!
Only bugs I will eat are shrimp and crayfish!!!
Hi Harry, oh I’m with you for sure! LOL! I love shrimp, never tried crayfish! I won’t eat squirrels either. It’s just me. LOL! Linda
Crayfish, aka crawfish here in the south, are good. Just takes a bunch of them to make a meal. Not my favorite, but I will eat them. As to squirrel, they are a rodent, aka brown tree rat here in Texas! I would eat them but only as a last resort. Again, not a lot of meat on them.
HI Harry, Mark brought some doves home once. Keyword, once. He was so excited to bring them home after hunting. One problem, there was very little meat. I’ve decided at my age I can be picky about what I eat. No animal, rat, fish, or critter. Nope, nada. LOL! But here again, if we are starving we may eat anything. Linda
Doves good fried with bacon
Hi Matt, oh Mark loves them but by the time he cleaned them, there wasn’t much to fry! LOL! Linda
Mud bugs! Yum
LOL–Linda, a friend of mine (also named Linda!) was once asked by her husband if you could shake-and-bake squirrels. She said she didn’t see why not–and by nightfall there were several squirrels in the freezer! (She did say later that it was a good idea to boil them for a while before shaking-and-baking, otherwise they were tough…)
Hi Rhonda, oh my gosh, I have the giggles now! Shake and Bake squirrels in the freezer! Good to know we need to boil them (that is if we want to eat them, LOL). Best cement, ever! LOL! Linda
With all do respect, I double your nos and add 50,000,000 nos.
Fortunately, I will conceed my bugs to my 9 grandsons because I can live off my fat for at least 6 months. And little boys will eat anything!!!!
Hi Chris, I only had daughters, so my girls did not like any bugs!! LOL! Linda
Uh, no. That show, Fear Factor, made me ill! 🙂 When I was a child my father made me eat chocolate covered ants – I vomited . I suppose if one were hungry enough…
Hi Beth, I would have vomited as well! Here’s the deal, I hope it never comes to having to eat bugs. I couldn’t do it. I love chocolate but not covered over anything but nuts! LOL! Linda
My concern here is if you don’t have food…will we have bugs to eat?
Hi Ardelle, where I live I doubt we will ever run out of bugs. I live in Utah. Even when the garden is put to bed for the winter freezing temps. I still see bugs. Linda
Fried grasshoppers taste like greasy weeds. I had some in Sunday School years ago when we studied John the Baptist. As for worms, there used to be a kids book out called “How to Eat Fried Worms” The main character was challenged by his friends and ended up eating them with ketchup on them. He said they weren’t bad. Not for my liking, though! Fried bugs are sold in other countries. Our son had some ants in Brazil and said they weren’t too bad.
HI Cheryl, I wrote this post to give ideas to those who may need to eat bugs someday. Fried bugs are sold in other countries, I love hearing this! What a great experience in your Sunday School class!! Great comment!! Linda
No thanks to bugs and worms…say arent SOME grasshoppers toxic? I will eat the inner bark of a tree before intentionally eating bugs!!
HI Jess, that’s why we need to research bugs and insects before we may have to eat them. Hopefully, we never have to. Linda
It’s like anything else in ya gotta know what your doing before doing it. Know the variety and type and watch for toxins like folks putting poison and fertilizer out
Hi Matt, exactly, know where you can pick edible weeds and edible bugs. It’s commonsense, just more tips for people to learn. Linda
I received the Bugs You Can Eat, and there is no green print button near the article’s top.
Hi Lorna, are you on an IPad, Laptop, or your phone? https://www.printfriendly.com/p/g/susjZ6
The Print button is there, let me check with other readers.
Remember in “Swiss Family Robinson” when they ate the grubs found in (I think) a palm tree? Said it tasted like a pat of butter when they’d roasted them and put them on something… And then there’s the kids’ book, “How to Eat Fried Worms.” (And while I was reading the article, I had the playground song running through my head– “Nobody loves me, Everybody hates me, I’m going to go eat wo-o-orms…”)
I remember one childhood Christmas involving a great deal of hilarity–someone provided chocolate covered bees! My dad and my godmother were the only ones who partook–and I seem to remember the dog recoiled in horror! (I assume the stings must have been removed.)
Sadly, the WEF bigwigs seem determined to insist that we lower classes *should* eat bugs. The EU has determined that crickets and mealworms can be powdered and added to food–with the name of the ingredient carefully changed into something innocuous-sounding. Not sure I want to visit Europe any more…
HI Rhonda, now I have that song in my head!!! LOL!! Oh, I heard about the crickets in food, yeah, that does not sound tasty to me at all! Hmmm, mealworms powdered, wow, what’s next??? LOL! Linda
The weird thing is… Sometimes when I open the bag of dried mealworms to give the chickens a treat, they actually smell kinda good… Umami, I think it’s called…
Hi Rhonda, oh my gosh, they smell kinda good. Now I want to go to the feed store and check out the smell!! LOL! Linda
I’ve alway found people’s aversion baffling, since I’ve eaten bugs since I was a child hanging out with Apache and Navajo kids in Utah. Grubs, grasshoppers, and even worms were commonplace. (Jackrabbits too, caught with throwing sticks) Then, in the army, I often bought fried grubs, beetles, and other goodies as a snack in the foreign markets. Never hesitated. And I still occassionally eat grubs and crickets from my property. From my perspective, it’s just food.
Hi Leam, thank you for sharing your perspective. It’s just food. I really appreciate your comment! Linda
No thanks, Linda! I’d rather not eat bugs. lol
Hi Jess, me too! LOL! But there may be people who did not plan ahead who will have too! Linda
I have read through all the comments and I have to laugh, we country folks will survive if something happens. If you try bugs now you will know if you like it. Why wait and do that to yourself. Did you look at pizza and go Yes that tastes good? No you had to try it. I couldn’t imagine pineapple on pizza was good but I tried it and it was good and I’m not a fan of pineapple. I have eaten squirrel, rabbit, racoon, tongue, liver, brains,gizzard and if it’s fixed right it’s good. I use to sit and watch my mom eat head cheese and souse and thought yuck but I tried and it’s not bad. Don’t sit and analyze what you eating just try it. Remember most cheese has mold on it and some might have a worm or 2 on it, but it’s taken off and cleaned up and you eat it.
A friend of mine wanted to build up his heat level he could eat. He ate 1 slice of jalapeño a day, I said try 2 then when you get use to it try 3. You’ve got to open your mine. Like crayfish, yum. TRY is the key word, like you do with little kids. You know kids would live on cake, McDonalds and soda but you get them to try it or hide it in other food. Try
HI June, oh my gosh, I grew up eating beef tongue, that brings back memories! I always had to have the tip it wasn’t grizzly! LOL! You are my hero for eating all of those animals, I love hearing this! Love it, Linda