Photo ©D. Kucharski K. Kucharska/


Would you like that grilled or fried?

Story by Rick Snyder, Ph.D.

Today we’re going to discuss a novel way to control insect pests in your garden. This method uses no chemicals – conventional or organic – yet is very effective in decreasing the insect population in your yard and garden. 

One of the growing trends is eating insects, sometimes referred to as “micro-livestock.” Insects are high in protein and fiber and have the “good fats” and minerals in them. Small grasshoppers have less fat per gram than lean ground beef.

Before you dismiss entomophagy, remember 1) it reduces the pest population, 2) it’s a good source of cheap protein, and 3) it is great for the environment.

They are readily available and are catching on among some foodies, even here in the U.S. where insect eating is still rather taboo. This is in spite of the fact that over 2 billion people regularly consume insects as part of their diet, both cooked and raw. 

The highly respected National Geographic published an excellent article on why we should be eating insects and that they can help with food supply shortages in many parts of the world. They also report that stinkbugs have an apple-like flavor, bee brood tastes like peanuts or almonds, beetles can be roasted like popcorn, agave worms are spicy, and crickets make a great stir-fry. I’m not sure how they derived these tidbits of information

Some clever companies incorporate them into snack foods in an effort to attract a new market. One such startup is Hotlix Candy Company ( As the name implies, they make snack food and lollipops with insects clearly visible inside. Some of their more popular products are Cheddar Cheese Larvets, Sour Cream & Onion Crick-ettes, and of course, Cricket Lick-it Suckers. 

Even Thrive Market (, the company dedicated to manufacturing and selling snacks of all kinds, markets Chirps Cheddar Cricket Flour Chips and Chirps BBQ Cricket Flour Chips. FYI, the BBQ version has 130 calories per serving of 15 chips, only 0.5 grams of saturated fat, no cholesterol, 120 grams of sodium, 2 grams of dietary fiber, and only 1 gram of sugar. If you’re not convinced yet, they are also a good source of calcium and iron, something to think about.

So what are the best candidates for consumption? The most popular are crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, beetle grubs (larvae), mealworms, various caterpillars, etc. But it doesn’t stop with insects. Also on the menu are scorpions and tarantulas, which of course are arachnids and not insects (eight crunchy legs instead of six).

I saw this for myself during a visit to China several years ago. Various dried insects were displayed by street vendors and in farmers’ markets. Scorpions, crickets, and larger insects were typically on skewers, sort of like shish kebobs. And people were buying them.

These high-protein offerings are most common in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and yes, North America. In fact, 80 percent of the world’s population eats insects. I mean on purpose, not the half of a worm in the apple you are eating. 

Want to learn more about cooking with insects? Look for the cookbook Creepy Crawly Cuisine by Julieta Ramos-Elorduy. 

Maybe someday the common expression, “There’s a fly in my soup” will be changed to “Why isn’t there a fly in my soup?”

Before you dismiss entomophagy, remember 1) it reduces the pest population, 2) it’s a good source of cheap protein, and 3) it is great for the environment.

Happy Gardening!

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