Chances are, if you currently live in the United States, you’ve never ingested a bug on purpose – unless, of course, you’ve traveled to another nation that loves to chew on insects. Although there are more than 1,900 edible insects present on Earth, according to the U.N., those in the United States just aren’t into eating bugs. However, countless other nations around the world incorporate bugs into their daily diets as an excellent source of protein. Although the Western cultures and world believe that bugs are particularly disgusting to eat, insects feature protein, fiber, healthy fats, and even minerals – and beetles are particularly delicious and healthy snacks throughout the world. If you’re considering snacking on insects, choose the beetle – and here are five perfectly healthy varieties to try.
June Bugs are a common type of beetle, found in many different areas and regions. Many cultures find them to be particularly tasty – they’re safe to eat, and are best cooked over a grill or fire. If you want to find some to snack on, search for them late at night in the midst of plants or plant debris.
A favorite insect food in Thailand, water beetles are large and full of protein. Catch them, kill them, and remove their shells, and you have a healthy snack before you. They’re most commonly fried or roasted, and taste like scallops according to those who enjoy them.
Although palm grubs aren’t exactly the same as palm weevils, which are actual adult beetles, they are beetle larvae with soft bodies like that of worms. A popular treat in South America, southeast Asia, and the tropical regions of Africa, palm grub are a fatty insect snack with almost 70 percent fat. Fry these beetle larvae when you come across them – they don’t even need the addition of oil – or eat them raw, as both are popular methods.
It doesn’t exactly sound pleasant to eat a dung beetle, but these insects are considered the best tasting variety of beetle – and they’re one of the most popular bugs to eat all around. Dung beetles are found under fresh cow dung, but before cooking they’re cleaned, dehydrated, and seasoned to make sure they’re safely edible. Typically, dung beetles are eaten fried, but in South America these insects are the perfect side dish to pork and natural vegetables.
Finally, Longhorn Beetles are a popular choice of insect as well – there are more than 20,000 different species of this insect, and they’re all perfectly edible. This type of beetle consumes the wood of trees, meaning their flavor varies depending on what type of wood they most commonly eat.
Dermestidae Beetles, or dermestids, are called by many names. Dermestid comes from the Greek word dermis which means skin and is often referred to as skin beetle, flesh-eating beetle, carpet beetle, leather or hide beetle, khapra beetle, or carrion beetle.
These beetles are tiny, which grows to about 2 to 12 millimeters long. The males are usually shorter than the females. They come in black or brown colors with hairy covering. These beetles multiply through laying eggs, which hatch in meat or within its proximity. The larvae are also hairy and mostly brown with yellowish stripes. They have many uses and they also have various destructive roles.
Forensic laboratories, museum curators, taxidermists and scientific researchers have always turned to dermestids to help them skeletonize carcasses as specimens for evidence or collection. They are the preferred choice of experts in cleaning skeletons compared to their chemical counterparts because the latter can often cause damage on the bones, such as discoloration or marks that can unfavorably affect an evidence or museum display.
Colonies of these beetles are contained by experts for their scientific processes. After the beetles are used to eat the flesh from cadavers so that only bones and skeletons remain, the specimen is placed in a freezer so that the beetles will not escape and infest the rest of the laboratory.
While they are of use in laboratories, they are destruction to many households. If one is not careful and these bugs get into a house, they can infest desiccated and organic substances like carpets, wood, things with feathers, furs, woolen fabrics, and similar materials. They can get into your clothing, upholstery or curtains.
Why are they in your house, in the first place? These unwanted beetles may be attracted to get in your house if a dead animal is present. When you see them in your home, check your interiors thoroughly. There might be a lifeless mouse or pest stuffed somewhere without your knowledge. Wasp nests, animal hair build-up, or food, especially meat, which is left out in the open may also invite these beetles into your home. Once you discover them, contact an exterminator to take care of the problem.
Beetles reproduce sexually. Almost all of the species of beetles need a make and a female in order to reproduce and you can identify one sex from another using several methods. In some species, a male beetle is bigger with antlers that were designed for fighting. Some males have “bushy” antennae. Females are smaller and with very small (sometimes none) antennae’s.
Males have a pair of testes that is located near the back of the abdomen. These testes have follicles where the sperm is produced. Mature sperm cells pass through the vasa efferentia to the midline of the body which leads to a single ejaculatory duct and out of the body through the aedagus, the male beetle’s copulatory organ.
Accessory glands also form part of the male reproductive organ. These glands have two functions. First is to produce seminal fluid that nourishes and sustains the sperm. Second is the production of spermatophores, a pouch-like structure that protects the sperm by encasing them as they are being delivered to the female beetle during copulation.
Female beetles have a pair of ovaries, subdivided into units called ovaries and this is where the eggs are produced. These ovaries tend to swell when the insect is actively reproducing and they could fill the female beetle’s abdomen. As the eggs mature, they leave the ovaries through the lateral oviducts. The female accessory organs then supply lubricants and produce a protein-rich shell that surrounds the egg.
When the male and female copulates, the spermatophore is deposited by the male to the female and the peristaltic contractions would force the spermatophore into the pouch-like chamber called the spermatheca, where they will live for as long as a few years.
As the egg produced by the female passes through the spermatheca, this will stimulate the release of a few sperms where one of them will end up fertilizing the egg. After fertilization, oviposition or laying of the egg will follow and then the egg will begin its embryonic development. The beetle gives birth to thousands of baby’s. Can you imagine if humans gave birth to so many baby’s, think of all the diapers they would use!
Asian long-horned beetle is a beetle that can be invasive to your backyard or your community. This type of beetle first originated in China and was believed to have entered the U.S. through a solid wood packing material shipped from China. These Asian long-horn beetle are around less than 5cm long. Its body is shiny black in color with white spots and it has two long antennas. Although it is not generally dangerous to pets and humans, the Asian long horned beetle could bite if they are threatened.
This beetle is known to be invasive because it is considered as a pest, attacking hardwood trees like chestnut, willow, birch and maple. It feeds on healthy trees. So at this stage, there is no shortage of something to eat. Once these trees are being infected, they will end up killing it from inside out.
The female beetles would lay eggs on multiple locations, it can be on the exposed roots or the trunk of the tree. During that egg-laying period, adults would feed on the bark. The larvae on the other hand would eat the tree’s phloem, the innermost layer of the bark that is carrying the nutrients. Because of this, the tree will continue to weaken as it loses the nutrients it needs to grow and live. You will notice that the discoloration on the tree’s leaves, the holes on the trunk and the tree will soon die.
If these insects continue to grow and breed, it could devastate the trees in the community. There is also a possibility that it could affect maple syrup production, eventually affecting the maple syrup industry.
Protect yourself and your community. Do what you can to learn more about the specie. Educate yourself about how to spot the existence of the beetle so you can prevent it from spreading. Get involved if you need to. Check with your local community if they have an existing eradication program and cooperate so this can be kept under control.