Edible insects, how about that? In any survival scenario, you will need food and water in order to survive. When food is scarce you have to struggle and avoid starving, case in which you will do anything to get rid of hunger. The environment will provide you with a good source of food that might not sound so appealing at first, edible insects.
Even if it sounds gross, relying on edible insects in order to survive is a tactic that turned out to be very effective for many people.
We are used to eating more than three meals a day for most of our lives. Going a few hours without food is something we do not handle well. Imagine going a day or two without food…
I guarantee that by the third day you will see insects as something nutritious that can keep you and your loved ones alive in an emergency situation.
A big percentage of the world’s population consumes edible insects. There are studies being conducted in order to establish how the world could deal with food insufficiency by farming and consuming edible insects.
Edible insects in North America
In North America, we have plenty of edible insects that can provide the nutritional needs to survive a day. You just need to know about what type of edible insects you can find in the wild and how to cook and eat these insects. It’s just a matter of changing your mind about what you need to do in order to survive.
It’s not the end of the world if you rely on edible insects in order to survive. You can adapt easily if you have no other choice and this idea will not look so bad when your stomach growls.
Edible Insects that you can eat during an emergency situation
Several species of the honeypot ants are found in the western parts of the U.S, as well as in Arizona, New Mexico, and arid and semi-arid regions. These edible insects have a good nutritional value and the ones you should target are the specialized worker ants (repletes).
You can recognize them easily because their abdomen is bigger than the ones of normal ants and it’s full of food. This food is destined for the ant colony to help it survive in times of famine. These edible insects will help you survive and they have been consumed by many people who got lost in the desert.
Honeypot ants can be identified by their color, especially green and blue. They can also be dark red in color and measure ¼ inch to ½ inch in length, but the most distinctive characteristic of these edible insects is their abdominal swellings.
How to eat honeypot insects:
Once you’ve dug up these edible insects you can eat them raw. It is the simplest way to consume honeypot ants. Honeypot ants have a sweet taste as they are made up of natural sugars and water. These edible insects are a refreshing treat that will keep you alive in the wild.
These edible insects are the larvae of the mealworm beetle, a small blackish beetle that is found across the U.S. They can be easily located in the wild with a little practice. You have to look in dark and cool places that provide moist microhabitats.
Looking under rocks and wood at night increases your chances of finding these edible insects. They are easy to collect and do not pose a threat when being disturbed.
How to eat mealworms:
These edible insects are a good food source that can be baked or fried. You can fry them on low heat for 10 minutes with some salt and other condiments. You can add them to a salad to have a complete meal. I can tell you from experience that these edible insects taste like almonds or nuts.
Some people also prefer to eat mealworms raw, but I recommend cooking them. These edible insects can provide an allergic reaction, so if you know you are allergic to shellfish, you should avoid eating mealworms.
This is one of the edible insects that doesn’t look too appealing and it may prove harder to catch. Grasshoppers can be found throughout North America and meadows, fields, hedgerows, and forest are the areas in which you should look for these edible insects.
It can be difficult to catch grasshoppers and you often have to improvise a trap or two, in order to make sure you have enough for a decent meal. You can use a glass jar to catch these edible insects.
Dig a hole in the ground, place the jar in it and add some bait (such as fruits). You can also add water as it will help drown the insects that find their way inside. Short-horned grasshoppers range in size from 0.2 to 4 inches in length and many species are green or light brown.
How to eat short-horned grasshoppers:
Many survivalists recommend eating grasshoppers because these insects provide protein and calcium. It is recommended to cook these edible insects to make them safe to eat. You can boil, fry or roast them and add the seasonings of your liking. Make sure to remove the legs and wings before eating grasshoppers as these parts are difficult to swallow.
Before being acknowledged as edible insects, the Formosan termites are being considered a pest. They are spread widely across the U.S. Most termite nests are found underground, or in fallen trees and neglected timber.
Digging up a Formosan termite nest can yield lots of food and even though these edible insects have the capability to bite humans, you should be safe. Most often the Formosan termites are white or yellow in color, but they can also be dark red, black, or brown. These edible insects can measure 0.16-0.6 inches and contain a good amount of fat and protein.
How to eat Formosan termites:
You can roast these edible insects on a hot plate or dry-fry them in a pan until crisp. You can add condiments as you like, but avoid adding oil since they contain enough of it.
Related reading: Survival improvised cooking
The June bug is a genus of beetle and they are common species of edible insects that can be found across the planet. In North America you can find the green June Bug in the southeastern U.S, the fig eater June bug in western and southwestern U.S and the ten-lined June bug in Canada and the western U.S.
These edible insects can be colored orange, yellow, red, green, brown and blackish. June bugs can be found on plants or near lights and the best way to catch them is to shine a flashlight onto a bed sheet at night. These edible insects are less than one inch in length and their taste can be described as buttery or resembling walnuts.
How to eat June bugs:
Native Americans used to eat June bugs by roasting them over the fire. You can also use the same technique or you can grill or fry them. Both adults and larvae can be eaten and it is recommended to remove the legs and wings before doing so.
These edible insects are common across North America, especially on the East Coast of the U.S. Cicadas were another food source preferred by the Native Americans. Even today many hikers will add cicadas to their diet. Tibicen is the most common cicada in the U.S, it measures 1-2 inches in length and emerges every year.
These edible insects often have green, black and brown markings. You can find cicadas in late spring and early summer when they emerge. They live only for 2-6 weeks, time in which they feed on plant roots.
They can be found on plants as the sun is rising and you can easily identify these edible insects by their clear wings, prominent eyes, and bulky bodies. The color of cicadas can vary from brown to grey. These edible insects are rich in protein and other nutrients due to their diet, which consists of juices from plants and trees.
How to eat cicadas:
As the carapaces of these edible insects can harden quickly, it is best to eat them as soon as you’ve collected them. You can boil cicadas for a few minutes. You can also fry or roast them. Native Americans used to roast and dry these edible insects and store them for later use. Tibicen cicadas taste like shrimp.
Related reading: Wild Edibles Summer Foraging
Another kind of edible insects that provides a good source of nutrition is the honeybee larvae. Throughout North America, there are several species of the honeybee and the most dangerous one is the Africanized bee.
When extracting larvae from Africanized bee you have a good chance to make them swarm. Although it can be difficult for beginners to locate a beehive in the wild, once you manage to do it, your work will be rewarded.
Bee larvae can be found in the honeycomb cells of the colony and are about the size of a fingernail. Since larvae are initially fed on royal jelly, these edible insects contain a decent amount of protein, sugars, fatty acids, B vitamins and traces of vitamin C.
How to eat honeybee larvae:
The larvae of these edible insects can be eaten raw or cooked. They are sweet in taste and they provide a delicious treat. Many survivalists prefer to fry honeybee larvae in butter as they say the tastes is similar to bacon with a texture similar to mushrooms.
Aside from the edible insects presented in this article, there are numerous other insects that can be eaten as part of a survival diet. If you have no other choice than edible insects, remember to check that what you are eating is non-toxic and make sure to cook it.
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