Introduction to “Entomophagy” Lab, 2019



     Can insects be considered as being edible and a good source of carbohydrates (lipids and protein)? Edible insects; you may feel that these two words do not even belong in the same sentence. You have every right to be skeptical. In all probability, you have never deliberately eaten an insect. However, you have probably inadvertently consumed over a pound of insects in your lifetime. There is a term for this. The word is Entomophagy (en-ta-ma-f-a-gy) or bug eating.


     Some insects are edible. In fact, most insects are edible, but there are a few species that are especially palatable, nutritious, and easily obtainable. Many species of insects are lower in fat, higher in protein, and have a better feed to meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. Insects are tasty. Even if you are too squeamish to have them as a main dish, you can make insect flour and add it to bread and other dishes for an added protein boost. Insects and some crustaceans contain a primary source of carbohydrates (polysaccharide) called “chitin” that makes up their exoskeleton or outer shell.


There are 1,462 recorded species of edible insects:

100 grams of cricket contains: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, and 3.10 mg. of niacin.

Compare this with ground beef, which, although it contains more protein (23.5 g.), also has 288.2 calories and a whopping 21.2 grams of fat!

Insects are commonly found in the following foods:

Apple butter - 5 insects per 100g
Berries - 4 larvae per 500g OR 10 whole insects per 500g
Ground paprika - 75 insect fragments per 25g
Chocolate - 80 microscopic insect fragments per 100g
Canned sweet corn - 2.3mm-length larvae, cast skins or fragments
Cornmeal - 1 insect per 50g
Canned mushrooms - 20 maggots per 100g
Peanut butter - 60 fragments per 100g (136 per lb)
Tomato paste, pizza, and other sauces - 30 eggs per 100g OR 2 maggots per 100g
Wheat flour - 75 insect fragments per 50g


     Your insect consumption adds up. Flour beetles, weevils, and other insect pests that infest granaries are milled along with the grain, finally ending up as tiny black specks in your piece of bread. Small grubs and other tiny insects can be found in your fruit and vegetables. Insects are especially common in canned and other types of processed food, and even in certain beverages, like apple cider for instance. They process the fallen and or rotten apples including the worms and insects who have found the apples on the ground. It is virtually impossible that you have not ingested insects in one form or another during your lifetime. And it probably did not harm you, but instead did you some good by providing extra carbohydrates and protein in your meal! If insects are prepared and cooked properly, then the insects can be considered edible and nutritious.