eating bugs for survival

Eating Bugs for Survival: Ultimate Guide

In survival situations, eating bugs for survival may be the key to making it through to another day. Now, you may be thinking, “Come on, me munching on a cricket like it’s popcorn? That’s a big no for me!” Don’t fret. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to feast on the critters you used to squash without a second thought. So, let’s kickstart our journey into the intriguing world of edible bugs.

The Buzz About Eating Bugs for Survival

Sure, edible insects might sound like something straight out of a reality TV show challenge, but the fact is, they are a staple in many parts of the world. For nearly 2 billion people, a meal might not be complete without a little crunch of a cricket or the slight tang of a termite(1). When it comes to survival, these tiny critters can pack a punch in terms of nutritional value.

Key Takeaways

  • Bugs as global food: 2 billion people eat protein-rich insects regularly.
  • Select safe bugs: Avoid brightly colored and hairy bugs. Choose grasshoppers, crickets, pill bugs, and beetle larvae.
  • Catching techniques: Sweep in tall grasses, overturn logs for pill bugs, and disturb ant mounds.
  • Cook your bugs: Cooking kills parasites and enhances flavor.
  • Health is important: Choose bugs that feed on healthy materials to avoid health issues.
  • Bugs beyond survival: Insects are a sustainable food source, used in everyday food products.
  • Tips for bug gourmets: Know safe bugs, forage responsibly, cook and store bugs well, and experiment with recipes.
  • Sustainability and survival: Eating bugs aligns with survival tactics and eco-friendly choices.

Worldwide Bug Consumption: It’s More Common Than You Think

Different types of bugs eaten around the world:

Country/Region Edible Bugs Commonly Consumed
Mexico Chapulines (grasshoppers), escamoles (ant larvae)
Africa Mopane worms, termites, locusts
Southeast Asia Silkworms, crickets, giant water bugs
Australia Witchetty grubs

Nutritional Value of Bugs: It’s Not Just About the Crunch

Insects aren’t just abundant and easy to catch. They are also nutritious. They contain high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are low in fat(2). Here’s a comparison to give you a perspective:

Insect Protein (g per 100g) Iron (mg per 100g) Fiber (g per 100g)
Crickets 21 6 13
Mealworms 20 6 5
Grasshoppers 20 5 3
Beef (for comparison) 26 3 0

As you can see, some insects can give beef a run for its money in terms of protein content. And that’s not all. They also provide fiber, something you won’t get from your average sirloin steak.

Practical Reasons to Consider Eating Insects in a Survival Situation

  1. Availability and ease of catching: Insects are everywhere. They outnumber humans 200 million to one, so you’ll never run out of a food source.
  2. Sustainability: Compared to traditional livestock, insects require less water, food, and space to farm.
  3. Adaptability to climate change: Insects can survive in a wide range of environments and are resistant to climate change effects.
  4. Nutrient-rich: As I’ve covered earlier, insects pack a punch when it comes to nutrients.

Eating bugs for survival isn’t about acquiring a taste for the exotic or trying to gross out your fellow survivors. It’s about understanding and utilizing an overlooked, yet nutrient-dense food source that’s readily available in most parts of the world. The next time you’re in a bind and need a protein-packed meal, remember, the answer might be buzzing right by your ear!

eating bugs for survival

Choosing the Right Bug to Bite

When you intend to eat bugs, it’s crucial to know which critters are up for grabs and which should stay out of your mouth. The rule of thumb is simple: avoid brightly colored and excessively hairy insects. Think about it like this, if you’re stuck in the wild, would you rather munch on a dull-looking grasshopper or a brightly colored, hairy bug that looks like it just strutted out of a punk rock concert? The choice is pretty clear.

The Bugs You Shouldn’t Bite

Bright colors in nature are often equivalent to a neon sign flashing “danger.” The same principle applies to bugs. Brightly colored insects often carry toxins that can cause nasty effects if ingested. Hairy bugs can cause similar issues – those hairs can irritate your digestive tract, leading to an uncomfortable survival experience.

Here’s a list of bugs to avoid:

  1. Brightly colored bugs: Ladybugs, monarch butterflies, etc.
  2. Hairy bugs: Caterpillars, tarantulas, etc.
  3. Bugs that emit a strong odor: Stinkbugs are named that way for a reason!

Your Go-To Edible Bugs Menu

Now that we’ve discussed the insects to steer clear of, let’s delve into the ones that could grace your survival dinner plate.

  1. Grasshoppers and Crickets: These bugs are your protein-packed, ready-to-eat snack in the wild. They’re the buffalo chicken wings of the insect world – abundant, nutritious, and relatively easy to catch.
  2. Pill Bugs: Also known as potato bugs or sow bugs, these critters are like the potatoes of the insect world. You can find them under rocks and rotting logs. They’re not as protein-rich as grasshoppers, but they’re easy to find and catch, making them a good survival food.
  3. Beetle Larvae: If you’re not too squeamish, beetle larvae can be a great source of nutrition. They’re usually found in rotting wood and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Here’s a comparison:

Insect Protein (g per 100g) Catching Difficulty Edibility
Grasshoppers and Crickets 20 Moderate Can be eaten raw or cooked
Pill Bugs 14 Easy Best when cooked
Beetle Larvae 18 Moderate Can be eaten raw or cooked

It’s important to remember that your survival may depend on adapting to the circumstances. You might never have considered eating bugs before, but understanding which ones are safe to eat could really help during an emergency survival situation.

eating bugs for survival

Catching Your Critters

In the wild, you can’t just stroll into a supermarket to pick up your dinner. Finding and catching insects requires a certain set of skills. You’ll be channeling your inner Bear Grylls in no time, with a dash of ninja moves for good measure.

When to Hunt for Bugs

Early fall is the best time to find many insects. As the weather starts to cool down, many bugs are out and about, preparing for winter. It’s a bug-eat-bug world, and timing is everything.

Where to Look for Bugs

Different bugs hang out in different places. Here’s a quick guide on where to find edible insects for your next protein-rich snack:

  1. Crickets and grasshoppers are fond of hanging out in tall grasses. A brisk walk through a field with a net or even a swift sweep with your t-shirt can catch these hoppers.
  2. Pill bugs, aka the “land shrimp,” prefer damp environments. You can often find them under rotting logs and stones. Simply flip over a log or stone and voila, it’s sushi time. Well, bug sushi time, that is.
  3. Ants can be found in their mounds. Poke a stick into their home, and watch as they rush out to defend it. It may seem rude to crash their party, but hey, in the bug world, home invasions are a compliment!

How to Catch Bugs: Strategies for Successful Foraging

Once you know where and when to find your bugs, the next step is catching them. This requires a blend of patience, stealth, and agility. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. The Quick Snatch Ninja Move: This is great for catching crickets, grasshoppers, and other fast-moving bugs. Move slowly to avoid scaring them off, then make a quick grab when you’re within range.
  2. The Flip and Collect: Perfect for catching pill bugs and beetle larvae. Simply flip over a log or stone and quickly collect the bugs before they scurry away.
  3. The Home Invasion: This technique is ideal for ants. Disturb their mound with a stick and swiftly collect them as they rush out to defend their home.

Remember, as with anything in life, practice makes perfect. The more you practice your bug-catching skills, the better you’ll get, and the more bugs you’ll be able to add to your survival menu. So, gear up and get out there, future bug gourmet!

eating bugs for survival

Cooking Your Crawlies

So, you’ve hunted down your critters and are ready to tuck in. But wait, you might be wondering, can I just pop these bad boys raw? While it’s possible to eat many insects raw, it’s generally safer to cook them first. Not only does it kill off any potential parasites, but it also gives your meal that satisfying crunch(3). Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of toasty crickets in the morning?

The Raw Truth About Eating Bugs

Yes, many insects can be eaten raw. But before you start channeling your inner sushi chef, keep in mind that some bugs can carry parasites, particularly nematodes. Cooking your bugs helps ensure that any lurking nasties are killed off, providing you with a safer dining experience.

Here’s a few types of bugs you can eat raw, although I always recommend cooking when possible:

  1. Ants: They are usually safe to eat raw, but they can bite, so be careful.
  2. Termites: Especially during their flight season, they can be eaten raw.
  3. Bee larvae: These can be eaten raw straight from the hive.

Cooking Bugs: Roasting and Beyond

The most basic cooking method is roasting your bugs. This method is simple, effective, and it doesn’t require any fancy cookware. All you need is a fire and a flat rock. Place your bugs on the rock next to the fire and let them roast until crispy.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and have some basic cooking equipment, here are a few other methods:

  1. Boiling: Drop your bugs in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes. This method is great for larger bugs or larvae.
  2. Pan frying: If you’ve got a pan, give your bugs a quick fry. They’ll turn out crispy and delicious.
  3. Making bug flour: This is a long-term survival solution. Dry out your bugs, grind them into a powder, and use this as a protein-rich flour substitute.

Here are some basic cooking methods for different types of bugs:

Insect Best Cooking Method
Grasshoppers and Crickets Roasting, Pan frying
Pill Bugs Boiling
Beetle Larvae Boiling, Pan frying
Ants Raw, Boiling

When it comes to eating bugs for survival, preparation is just as important as finding your creepy-crawly feast. Remember, safety first, so whenever possible, cook your bugs to ensure they’re free from parasites. Bon appétit, survivalist!

Health Check: Eating Bugs for Survival

Remember the saying, “you are what you eat”? Some bugs carry parasites or feed on rotting flesh. Eating these can result in upset stomachs or, worse, nervous system damage. And as adventurous as I am, a bout of food poisoning in a survival situation is the equivalent of stepping on a Lego barefoot. It hurts, and it can immobilize you!

Always cook your bugs and try to catch those that feed on healthy material, like vegetation or grains. Grasshoppers and crickets are a safe bet. Bee larvae and ants are honorable mentions. Avoid anything that feeds on dead leaves, rotting meat, or poisonous plants and poisonous mushrooms. And remember, brightly colored insects are off the menu!

Edible Bugs: Not Just for Survival

Okay, so we’ve covered the essentials of eating bugs for survival. But don’t put away your insect cookbook just yet. While munching on crickets and beetles might seem like a strictly wilderness-survival strategy, you might be surprised to find that insects are making their way into our everyday diets(4).

Insects are not only a sustainable food source, but they’re also packed with nutrition. We’re talking high protein, low fat, and a great source of vitamins and minerals. And with our global population booming, bugs are increasingly being seen as the future of food. Yes, you heard that right – those crunchy critters could be the answer to global food security!

Bug Bites on the Shelves

From cricket protein bars to mealworm flour, insects are creeping onto grocery store shelves in surprising ways. Some adventurous companies are developing an array of innovative food products that incorporate bugs as a primary ingredient. The good news is that these products are often ground down and processed, so you won’t find any recognizable bug parts in your snack.

Here’s a list of some of the insect-based products you might find in your local supermarket:

  1. Cricket Protein Bars: Packed with protein and nutrients, cricket bars are a great snack for fitness enthusiasts.
  2. Mealworm Flour: This flour is a sustainable, high-protein alternative to traditional wheat flour.
  3. Edible Insect Snacks: From roasted crickets to mealworm stir-fry, there’s a variety of ready-to-eat insect snacks available.
  4. Insect Pasta: Made from insect flour, this is a high-protein, low-carb alternative to regular pasta.

Edible Insects Recipes

Are you feeling adventurous and want to try cooking bugs at home? There are numerous edible insects recipes available online that range from simple roasted bugs to more complex dishes like mealworm tacos or cricket stir-fry. These recipes typically utilize either whole insects or insect flour, offering a unique way to incorporate bugs into your diet.

Here’s a simple recipe for roasted crickets:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Rinse the crickets under cold water and pat dry.
  3. Place the crickets on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.
  5. Enjoy as a snack, or use them as a topping for salads or pasta!

Whether it’s for survival or sustainability, the practice of eating bugs is becoming more mainstream. So the next time you’re feeling a bit peckish, why not reach for a cricket bar instead of a bag of chips? You might just find you enjoy being part of the bug-eating trend.

Top Tips for the Aspiring Bug Gourmet

Before you start popping pill bugs like popcorn, there are a few guidelines to follow. These will ensure you’re not only eating safe insects but also respecting the environment and enjoying your meal. Here are the top tips to consider when you’re on the cusp of becoming a bug gourmet.

1. Know Your Bugs

All bugs are not created equal, especially when it comes to their edible status. Many insects are edible, but there are some you should avoid eating. Brightly colored insects and those with straight lines of bright colors are usually a big no-no. These eye-catching designs are nature’s way of saying “stay away – I’m toxic!”

Bugs to Eat Bugs to Avoid
Crickets Brightly colored insects
Grasshoppers Bugs with straight lines of bright colors
Pill Bugs Hairy bugs
Earthworms Bugs found on rotting meat
Beetles Bugs that emit strong odors

2. Forage Responsibly

In the bug world, location is everything. Not all bugs are free from contamination, so avoid collecting insects from areas sprayed with pesticides or from near roadsides. Remember, if an area isn’t safe for other animals or plants, it’s likely not safe for bugs either.

3. Cook Them Well

It’s not just about safety, but also about savoring the flavors. Cooking bugs not only kills off any parasites they might carry, but it also enhances their taste. Dry roast your crickets, grasshoppers, and other insects for a deliciously crispy and protein-packed snack.

4. Store Them Properly

Just because they’re bugs doesn’t mean they’re exempt from food storage rules. Like any other food, bugs should be stored properly. Once cooked, they can be kept in a cool, dry place for future use.

5. Get Creative with Your Cooking

While roasted bugs can be a delicious snack, don’t limit yourself. Get creative with your cooking! Grind up dried bugs to create insect flour, which can be used in baking or cooking. You could also incorporate them into other dishes for added nutrition. Bug-filled tacos, anyone?

By following these tips, you’re well on your way to becoming a bug gourmet. Remember, eating insects isn’t just about sustenance; it can also be a culinary adventure! So here’s to you, brave bug eater – enjoy your journey into the world of edible insects!


Next time you’re out in the wild, instead of swatting that bug away, take a moment. Look at it. Appreciate it. And then eat it. After all, your survival could depend on it. Here’s to edible insects – the sustainable, nutritious, survival-approved food of the future.

Remember, eating bugs isn’t just about survival, it’s about sustainability. So, take a cue from Timon and Pumbaa, and embrace the “slimy yet satisfying” world of bugs. It’s the Circle of Life, folks, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Happy foraging, my fellow survivalists!


Are insects as nutritious as meat?

Insects can indeed be as nutritious as meat, and sometimes even more so. They are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, with some species offering more protein by weight than beef or chicken.

What are the downsides of eating bugs?

The downsides of eating bugs include potential allergies, risk of ingesting parasites if they’re not cooked properly, and possible ingestion of toxins if the insects have been exposed to pesticides or are naturally venomous or poisonous.

Where can I find edible insects in the wild?

You can find edible insects in various habitats, such as forests, grasslands, and gardens. They can often be found under rocks, inside rotting logs, in tall grasses, and around bodies of water.

Can insects provide enough sustenance for survival?

Yes, insects can provide enough sustenance for survival. They are high in protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals which are crucial for maintaining energy and health, especially in survival situations.


1.Baker, Aryn. “They’re Healthy. They’re Sustainable. So Why Don’t Humans Eat More Bugs?” Time, 26 Feb. 2021,

2.Ojha, S., et al. “Bioavailability of Nutrients from Edible Insects.” Current Opinion in Food Science, Aug. 2021,

3.Gutierrez , Sandra. “You Should Start Eating Bugs. Here’s How.” Popular Science, 21 Apr. 2020,

4.Anthes, Emily. “Could Insects Be the Wonder Food of the Future?”, 14 Oct. 2014,