Utah Pests News Summer 2013


Gastronomical Insects


Grilling season is here, so fill up your propane tanks and polish up your skewers for a shish kebob feast of crickets, cicadas and palm weevils. Don’t eat bugs? It might be time to give them a try. Not only has the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization made the case for why insects should be on your dinner plate, but many U.S. restaurants have started serving up tasty insect delicacies to rave reviews. That's a new twist to integrated pest management!

In the report released in May 2013, Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security, the FAO argues that in the future, insects could be essential to feeding the world’s population. Insects are nutritious, can generate jobs, and their production is safer for the environment than other protein sources such as beef. For example, to produce 1 pound of meat, insects require 2 pounds of feed while cattle require 8 pounds. Insects beat out beef when it comes to essential nutrients like iron, too: 100 grams of locusts contain 8 to 20 milligrams of iron while the same weight of beef contains 6 milligrams. This FAO website offers more nutritional content information for insects.

The FAO wants all locales, including developed nations, to stop turning up their noses at eating insects. In the U.S., we already unknowingly consume about 1 pound of insect parts per person per year, in foods such as chocolate, peanut butter, and fruit juice. An FAO spokesperson comments that "although it will require considerable convincing to reverse [feelings of disgust], it is not an impossible feat."


According to the FAO, more than two billion people–30 percent of humanity–already supplement their diet with insects. The most widely consumed insects worldwide are the larvae of palm weevils. Indigenous cultures in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea have all developed techniques for mass-producing these larvae, which involves cutting down select species of palms and returning 6 to 10 weeks later to harvest the larvae from the fallen trees. While weevils are sometimes eaten raw, in most cases, they are dried, boiled, fried, or roasted.

In central Mexico, red and white maguey larvae (of the butterfly, Aegiale hesperiaris and the moth, Comadia redtenbacheri) that feed on the leaves of agave are considered a delicacy. When fully mature, the highly nutritious caterpillars are eaten deep fried or braised, seasoned with a spicy sauce, and served in a tortilla. The red maguey worms are also found in bottles of mezcal liquor (made from agave). (See page 4 for an edibles list.)

While insects are not routinely eaten in most western societies, the common European cockchafer bug (Melolontha melolontha), was used in a gourmet soup in France, Germany, and other European countries from the early 18th century to the mid-20th century. The soup was prepared from ground larvae, vegetables, herbs, and bouillon. It was said to compare to lobster stew. Despite the dish’s status as a delicacy, controversy in western nations over eating insects has continued through the years.

To help change perceptions, restaurants and organizations are delving into ingenious ways to use insects as food. For example, The Nordic Food Lab and University of Copenhagen received almost $630,000 to expand their research into insect gastronomy, by identifying ways to make insects delicious to the Western palate. The group recently participated in a gala feast (“Pestival”), where they served moth larvae mousseline, cricket broth with grasshopper garum, butter-roasted desert locust with wild garlic and ant emulsion, and an oatmealworm stout.


Ready to take the plunge? Get brave with the recipes below, or check out this list of 13 restaurants in the U.S. that serve up insect delicacies.

Caramel Popcorn Cicadas

Mix ½ lb cicadas with ½ cup brown sugar and 2 tbsp Sriracha.
Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.


From “Girl Meets Bug

Cabbage, Peas, N Crickets

This recipe stars crickets as the main protein, calcium and iron source.
Stir fry the following for 5-10 minutes:

  • handful of crickets
  • 1 cup chopped snap peas
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • pinch of salt


From Iowa State

Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers

  • baker's chocolate
  • candied crickets

Melt baker's chocolate in double boiler.
Fill molds halfway with chocolate, add grasshoppers, fill rest of the way.
A tasty surprise in every bite!


From "Insects are Food"

Mealworm French Fries

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2 dozen mealworms – boiled but not roasted
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • ½ tsp smoked salt

Cut and slice potatoes into strips.
Deep fry potatoes, mealworms and scallions together for 3 minutes in oil, and season to taste.


Global pest insect species used widely for human consumption

Locusta migratoria, migratory locust, Intercontinental
Locustana pardalina, South African migratory locust, Africa
Schistocerca gregaria, desert locust, Intercontinental
Zonocerus variegatus, variegated grasshopper, Africa
Sphenarium purpurascens, chapulines, Mexico
Rhynchophorus phoenicis, African palm weevil, Africa
Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, Indian red date palm weevil, Asia
Rhynchophorus palmarum, American palm weevil, America
Augosoma centaurus, scarab beetle, Africa
Apriona germari, mulberry longhorn stem beetle, Asia
Oryctes rhinoceros, coconut rhinoceros beetle, Intercontinental
Agrius convolvuli, sweet potato hawkmoth Zimbabwe
Anaphe panda, wild silkmoth, Africa
Gynanisa maja, emperor moth, Africa

-Marion Murray, IPM Project Leader

Featured Picture of the Quarter

featured pic

Parasitoid wasps are important beneficial insects. They help regulate the population of aphids, scales, stink bugs, borers, and many other insects. Some wasps parasitize spiders, like the tarantula hawk, shown at left. This adult wasp paralyzes her tarantula prey with a painful sting, drags it to her burrow, and lays an egg inside the spider. As the wasp larva grows, it feeds on the (still living) spider and completes its development inside, emerging as an adult the following summer. The wasp shown here, like most adult parasitoid wasps, requires nectar as a food source. Having a diverse landscape of flowers will attract a wide variety of beneficial insects, including all sizes and shapes of parasitoid wasps.

-Image by Diane Alston,