what bugs are safe to eat?

What Bugs are Safe to Eat? Guide to Edible Insects

Hello there, eager beavers! If you’re new to the world of prepping and survival, chances are you’ve probably considered what to do if your food stockpile ever runs out. If it comes down to it, you may find yourself asking, “What bugs are safe to eat?” Not only can some insects be a sustainable and nutritious food source, but they can also offer unique flavors and textures to expand your palate. In this article, we’ll explore the world of edible insects and identify those safe to munch on.

Before diving into the insect smorgasbord, it’s crucial to learn about safe preparation and sourcing methods. Handling insects for consumption should be done with care, as some species may carry parasites or pathogens. As you continue reading, we’ll discuss how to procure and cook these unconventional treats while ensuring your safety.

What Bugs are Safe to Eat?

It’s no secret that survival in the wilderness can pose some tricky challenges, and finding food can often be one of the biggest. While hunting down a wild boar Rambo-style may seem like the way to go, it’s often the smaller creatures underfoot that provide the most reliable source of nutrition. Yes, folks, we’re talking about bugs. It might not be the most glamorous dinner choice, but when it comes to survival, bugs offer a surprisingly nutritious and accessible source of sustenance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Various insects, including crickets, grasshoppers, and ants, are safe to eat and offer unique flavors.
  • Proper cleaning and cooking of insects is essential for safe consumption.
  • Cooking methods like dry roasting and deep-frying enhance insect flavors.
  • Cricket flour and powder are nutritious, sustainable alternatives to regular flour.
  • Potential hazards of insect consumption include allergies, parasites, and contamination.
  • Many global cultures regularly consume insects, often in the larval stage.
  • Insects provide essential nutrients but seek advice from a dietitian for safety and health benefits.
  • Optimal insect harvesting occurs in early fall in clean environments.
  • Insect consumption benefits personal health and contributes to sustainable food systems.

Guidelines for Identifying Safe Bugs to Eat

Before you start pouncing on the nearest creepy-crawly, it’s crucial to know which bugs are safe to eat and which should be avoided. Generally, there are a few principles to remember:

  1. Color is key: Bugs that are brightly colored or emit strong smells are often poisonous and should be avoided. Nature has a funny way of saying, “Don’t eat this!”
  2. Slow and steady wins the race: Slow-moving insects are usually safer to eat. If they aren’t rushing to escape, chances are they don’t have many predators, which is a good sign.
  3. Smooth is good: Bugs with hard exoskeletons or hairs can be difficult to eat and digest. Plus, hairs on insects are often used to deliver venom or irritants, so best steer clear of those!

Here’s a few principles to keep in mind when eating insects:

Rule What to Look For
Color Avoid brightly colored or strong-smelling bugs
Speed Safe bugs are often slow-moving
Body Type Avoid bugs with hard exoskeletons or hairs

Common Edible Bugs and How to Prepare Them

While there are over a million known insect species(1), there are a few common ones that you’re likely to encounter in a survival situation. Here are a few that could become your next meal:

  • Grasshoppers and Crickets: A reliable source of protein, these bugs are generally safe to eat. However, always remember to remove the wings and legs before eating – they’re not very digestible and could potentially choke you.
  • Ants: Although small, ants can be found in abundance, making them a great food source. They can be a bit acidic, though, so boil them first to neutralize the acid. This will also help kill any parasites they might be carrying.
  • Earthworms: These slimy critters might not be your first choice, but they’re packed with protein and can be found virtually everywhere. Remember to cook them thoroughly to kill potential parasites.
  • Termites: Found in rotting wood, termites can be a nutritious and plentiful food source. Like ants, boiling or cooking is recommended.
  • Pill bugs: Don’t let their hard shells fool you. Once cooked, these little guys can taste like shrimp.

Here’s a quick reference of edible insects:

Bug Preparation
Grasshoppers and Crickets Remove wings and legs, then cook
Ants Boil to neutralize acid and kill parasites
Earthworms Cook thoroughly to kill parasites
Termites Boil or cook
Pillbugs Cook thoroughly

The Importance of Cooking Your Bugs

While some insects can be eaten raw, cooking is highly recommended when it comes to eating bugs in the wilderness(2). Not only does heat kill off any potential bacteria or parasites that could harm you, but it can also make the bugs more palatable. Think crispy rather than slimy!

Surviving in the wilderness is a tough game. But with a keen eye,

Survivalist Tips for Eating Bugs

When it comes to venturing into the wilderness, the old scout’s motto holds true: “Be Prepared.” Knowing how to survive on edible insects can mean the difference between thriving and just surviving. If you’re stepping into the great outdoors, these practical survivalist tips will help you safely forage for edible bugs, providing an abundant and sustainable source of nutrition.

Survivalist Essentials for Bug Foraging

Before setting out on your wilderness adventure, it’s vital to pack the right equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bug net: This is essential for catching flying or jumping insects like grasshoppers and bees.
  • Small container: Use this to collect and store your bounty. A container with a lid will prevent escapees.
  • Field guide: A pocket-sized field guide to edible insects can be an invaluable resource, helping you identify safe (and tasty!) bugs to eat.

Tips for Effective Bug Foraging

In addition to having the right equipment, there are some key tips and strategies to keep in mind while foraging for bugs:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Water is as crucial to your survival as food. Drinking plenty of water aids in digestion and helps maintain your energy levels as you hunt for bugs.
  2. Cook Your Bugs: Even if a bug is safe to eat raw, it’s always better to cook it first. This kills any harmful microorganisms and can make the bugs more palatable. Think crunchy cricket chips, not squishy cricket sushi!
  3. Know Your Area: Before you venture into the wild, familiarize yourself with the local insect population. Knowing which bugs in your area are safe to eat can increase your chances of a successful forage.
  4. Practice Safety: Just as you would with plants, make sure to avoid insects found near polluted water, industrial areas, or crops that might be sprayed with pesticides.

As you venture into the wilderness, remember that edible insects can provide you with a nutritious, protein-rich food source. By equipping yourself with the right tools, keeping yourself hydrated, and always cooking your bugs before eating, you increase your chances of survival. Moreover, understanding the local insect population and practicing safety can ensure your foraging efforts are successful and safe.

Embrace the opportunity to sustain yourself with the abundant, often overlooked source of nutrition right under your feet. With these survivalist tips in mind, you’re ready to navigate the wilderness and make the most of its buggy bounty. So go on, be brave, and may your bug-net always be full!

what bugs are safe to eat?

Safe and Commonly Eaten Bugs

When it comes to survival, or even just trying something new, turning to the under-appreciated world of edible insects can provide a surprisingly delicious and nutritious food source. Let’s dive into some of the safe and commonly eaten bugs that you might want to put on your menu.

Crickets and Grasshoppers

These long-legged critters are among the most popular edible bugs worldwide. Crickets and grasshoppers are not only safe to eat, but they also pack a powerful protein punch.

You’ll find these insects at various stages of their life cycle, but young ones have a more tender texture. You can hunt for these in grassy areas, and the early morning is often the best time to catch them.

Fried, roasted, or even ground into cricket flour or powder, these insects offer versatile cooking options. As a common street food in East African countries and parts of South America, crickets and grasshoppers bring global cuisine right to your backyard.

Stink Bugs

The name might be a bit off-putting, but stink bugs are indeed safe to eat. In some cultures, these insects are valued for their unique flavor and are even used as a seasoning.

Before you go picking up every bug in sight, remember to avoid brightly colored insects and hairy bugs, as they could be toxic. To prepare stink bugs, remove the wings, legs, and head, then cook to your liking.

bugs on a plate

Other Bugs You Can Eat

When it comes to edible insects, ants are a universal favorite. With numerous species offering a range of flavors from sweet to sour, ants provide a culinary adventure.

While they can be eaten raw, cooking is always a safer option. It’s especially important to be cautious when consuming mature adult termites, as their wings can irritate your digestive system.

  1. Mealworms: These are the larvae of darkling beetles. Mealworms can be farmed at home or bought from pet or bait stores. They have a nutty flavor and can be roasted or used in baking as mealworm flour.
  2. Silkworms: Silkworm larvae are commonly consumed in Asia. They can be bought canned in many Asian markets and are traditionally boiled and seasoned.
  3. Waxworms: These are the larvae of wax moths and have a slightly sweet taste. Waxworms are commonly found in beehives but can also be bought from pet or bait stores. They can be roasted or used in baking.
  4. Ants: These ubiquitous insects have a slightly sour flavor due to their formic acid content. They can be gathered by disturbing an ant hill and catching them as they emerge. Boiling is recommended to neutralize the acid.
  5. Termites: These wood-loving bugs are high in protein and fat. Termites can be collected by breaking open rotting logs. They can be eaten raw, but it’s safer and more pleasant to dry roast them.
  6. Scorpions: Believe it or not, scorpions are edible once their stingers are removed. They can be found in desert regions and are typically roasted. Ensure they’re dead before preparation to avoid a nasty sting.

The world of edible bugs is teeming with potential. Remember to approach it with an open mind and a sense of adventure.

Who knows? You might discover a new favorite snack or meal. Plus, by choosing to eat insects, you’re taking a small step toward a more sustainable future. Bon appétit, or should we say, bug appétit!

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

Eating insects might sound unusual, but these tiny creatures can serve as a surprising source of nutrition and calories. They’re packed with protein and are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional livestock. In this section, we’ll guide you on how to prepare and cook insects, and even how to incorporate them into your everyday meals using cricket flour and powder.

safe to eat bugs for survival

Cleaning and Preparing Your Insect Ingredients

Whether you eat ants, bees, or even earthworms, cleanliness is crucial. Collect your critters early in the morning when they’re less active for an easier catch.

Once caught, place the insects in a container with warm water. This will not only clean them but also purge their digestive systems. After a few hours, give them a final rinse with clean water to remove any remaining dirt or debris.

Bug Collection Time Preparation
Ants, Bees, Earthworms Early morning Cleanse in warm water to purge systems, then rinse

Cooking Up Your Creepy Crawly Cuisine

When it comes to cooking your bugs, you’ve got a range of options from dry roasting to deep-frying, each offering a unique taste and texture experience.

Dry Roasting: This popular method is simple and can result in deliciously crispy critters. Spread your insects on a baking sheet and roast them at 325°F (163°C) for about 10 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Dry roasting gives your insects a nutty flavor, perfect as a snack or garnish on salads.

Deep-Frying: For a juicier texture, you can deep-fry your bugs. Pre-cook them by dipping in boiling water for a few seconds, then drain and plunge them into hot oil. The result? A crunchy treat deep fried, that tastes surprisingly similar to shrimp or other seafood.

Cooking Method Temperature Time Result
Dry Roasting 325°F (163°C) 10 minutes Crispy and nutty
Deep-Frying Juicy and crunchy

Cooking with Cricket Flour and Powder

As we strive towards more sustainable and nutritionally diverse diets, cricket flour and cricket powder have emerged as innovative alternatives to regular flour.

Cricket Flour: Rich in protein, cricket flour can be used to replace a portion of regular flour in your recipes, usually around 25-50%. The slightly nutty flavor lends itself well to a range of dishes, from bread to pancakes to cookies.

Cricket Powder: This can be used as a seasoning or topping. Sprinkle it on salads, pasta, or even popcorn for a nutrient-dense, flavor-boosting twist. Its unique, citrusy flavor can add an intriguing twist to your dishes.

Ingredient Use Flavor
Cricket Flour Replace 25-50% of regular flour in recipes Slightly nutty
Cricket Powder As a seasoning or topping Citrusy

As you explore the world of edible bugs, remember to practice proper preparation and cooking techniques for a safe and satisfying culinary experience. With a little creativity, you can easily incorporate insects into your daily diet and reap the benefits of this eco-friendly protein source.

Hazards of Eating Bugs

Bugs to Avoid

While many other insects are safe to consume, you should be cautious with certain species. Brightly colored bugs, for example, may be dangerous as their vibrant hues often signal toxicity(3). Stick to less flashy options to lessen your chances of ingesting harmful substances. Check out these typical buggy no-nos:

  • Bugs with bright colors
  • Insects known to carry toxins
  • Species with a strong, foul smell

Potential Parasites

Ingesting insects can sometimes lead to your body hosting unwanted parasitic guests. Make sure the bugs you eat are cooked thoroughly, as this will help kill any lingering parasites. Some common parasites found in insects are:

Insect Carrier Parasite
Beetles Tapeworm
Grasshoppers Roundworm
Aquatic insects Flukes


Lastly, keep in mind that your foraged insects might have been exposed to undesirable substances like polluted water or poisonous mushrooms(4). To reduce this risk, gather and eat bugs only from clean environments and make sure they are properly washed and cooked before consumption. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy your insect-based meals with confidence.

Cultural and Nutritional Aspects

Insects as a Food Source Worldwide

Did you know that many people around the world consume insects as a regular part of their diets? In some regions of South America, and select East African countries, insects like land shrimp (terrestrial crustacean) are a popular street food. You may even find them as part of an annual festival celebrating this unique culinary delight.

Insects are commonly consumed in the larval stage. For example, beetle larvae find themselves on many plates across the globe. You might come across ant larvae while sifting through damp soil or rotting logs, particularly when ants rush to save their young. You can cook these insects in various ways such as boiling water, dry pan, or even deep frying.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Content

When considering the nutritional aspects of insect consumption, it’s essential to consult expertise from a registered dietitian nutritionist. Many insects offer various health benefits and provide essential nutrients. For instance, termites, especially the larvae and termite queens, are high in protein and other nutrients.

Some insects also have unique flavors that add an exciting twist to your meals. Ant larvae have a slightly nutty flavor, while others, like land shrimp, possess a citrusy flavor that brightens up dishes.

However, be cautious when searching for insects in the wild. Some insects may smell bad or inhabit areas such as tall grasses and leaf litter, where they could be exposed to potential contaminants. Always look for insects in clean environments and be sure to wash them thoroughly before cooking.


What is the healthiest bugs you can eat?

The healthiest bugs you can eat include crickets, mealworms, and silkworms due to their high protein, vitamin, and mineral content, coupled with their low fat and calorie counts.

Are there any health risks associated with eating bugs?

Yes, there are potential health risks associated with eating bugs, including allergic reactions for some people, and possible ingestion of parasites or pesticides if the bugs are not properly sourced or prepared.

Where are the best places to look for bugs you can eat in the wild?

The best places to look for edible bugs in the wild largely depend on the specific type of insect you’re seeking; for instance, you can find crickets and grasshoppers in grassy fields, ants near their colonies, and earthworms in damp, nutrient-rich soil.


1. Davidson, Davidson CollegeThe Davidson College wordmark, and North Carolina 28035 USA894-2000. “Study Reveals Way to Measure Role of Climate Change in Insect Decline.” Davidson, 21 Apr. 2023, www.davidson.edu/news/2023/04/21/study-reveals-way-measure-role-climate-change-insect-decline.

2. Borrowman, Charles. “Tips for Eating Wild Edible Insects.” Wolf Camp & School of Natural Science at Blue Skye Farm, 5 June 2013, www.wolfcollege.com/tips-for-eating-edible-insects/.

3. University of Melbourne. “Bugs Resort to Several Colors to Protect Themselves from Predators: Colorful Bugs Look Very Different as Young and Adults, but Why?” ScienceDaily, 20 June 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200625102519.htm.

4. Syers, Wade. “Eating Insects — Safely.” Safe Food & Water, 22 June 2021, www.canr.msu.edu/news/eating-insects-safely.