Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eating Brown

Red, orange and yellow,
Forgo that fine fellow.
Black, green and brown,
Go ahead and toss him down.

-Chef David George Gordon

The plan came to me as I was out walking on Friday evening. A bit of research on the internet confirmed it would work. The execution was almost flawless, the results were spectacular.

The mistake (and it was a biggie) was telling Misseswether what I had done.

Apparently frying up a batch of June bugs for breakfast is not considered acceptable behavior in the Wether household.

June Bugs Edible.jpg
June bugs, the other breakfast of champions.

It didn't matter that Miniwether and Mambowether loved them and begged for more even though I used a bit too much cooking oil. Note to self: next time try the popcorn popper. Note to self #2: don't get caught.

In light of the popularity of my edible wild plants and edible landscaping posts, it seemed like entomophagy was the next logical step. Many cultures practice entomophagy, which is what a scientist (me) calls eating bugs. I must admit saying "I practiced my entomophagy this weekend." does sound a bit better than "Me and the girls ate bugs this weekend.".

So what bugs are edible? In general, insects from the following list can be considered sources of food. However, some indivivdual species of these classes may be toxic, so do a bit of research before nibbling.

Anoplura - lice
Orthoptera - grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches (Southern Lubber grasshoppers are NOT edible)
Hemiptera - true bugs
Homoptera - cicadas and treehoppers
Hymenoptera - bees, ants and wasps (fire ants are NOT edible)
Diptera - flies and mosquitoes (not recommended do to possible disease transmission)
Coleoptera - beetles
Lepidoptera - butterflies and moths
Megaloptera - alderflies and dobsonflies
Odonata - dragonflies and damselflies
Ephemetoptera - mayflies
Trichoptera - caddisflies
Plecoptera - stoneflies
Neuroptera - lacewings and antlions
Isoptera - termites

June bugs are a good starter meal for those interested in trying insects. They are easily recognized, don't bite or sting and have no similar-looking poisonous mimics. They can be found in great numbers and can easily be caught by shining a flashlight on a white sheet at night. The June bugs will swarm to the light spot on the sheet where you can grab them. Native Americans simply tossed them onto hot coals and when they "popped" they were done. Pulling off the wings and legs leaves you with a walnuty-sweet golden lump of protein and fat. I don't recommend sauteeing them in oil like I did. It left them too oily tasting for my liking, though the girls loved them.

June Bugs 5.jpg
A few minutes gathering.

June Bugs 3.jpg
Cooked, de-winged/legged and ready to eat.

June Bugs 1.jpg
The non-edible parts.

June Buug Breakfast.jpg
Breakfast is served. Note the cool "Bug Watch(er)" on Miniwether's wrist.

Removing the wings and legs was a bit tricky for my big fingers but Miniwether had no problem. Long fingernails would be helpful, but it really didn't take much effort. The wings and legs popped out away from the body.

And now for 'What has Merriwether learned?"
1. June bugs and many other common insects are edible.
2. A two year old and a five year old will DEMAND to eat anything they see their dad eat.
3. June bugs are better roasted rather than sauteed.
4. It is not necessary or even advisable for a husband to tell his wife everything.

Peace be with you!


clarktx said...

Love dat bugwatch

good to see it in action!

GBMF-Matt said...

Looky there. So far I've tried mealworms, giant crickets, mole crickets, bamboo worms, silk worms, and beetles... dung beetles, if I recall correctly.

Psychologically, it's a bit nerve-wracking the first time... just because we're raised with that "bugs are icky" mentality. So far, the crickets have been my favorite. They have the best flavor and texture.

I came here looking for the edibility of luber grasshoppers, since I just saw a piece of news that showed how parts of Florida are being completely overtaken by them. My first thought was "Lucky them! All this free food!" But, I guess if your post is any indication, they should probably not eat them.

Thanks for the great post.

Troy Young said...

LOL! Love that: "Apparently frying up a batch of June bugs for breakfast is not considered acceptable behavior in the Wether household."

@katychefdujour said...

That was both entertaining and informative. As a mom of 5 boys and wife of a infantry ranger my sons grew up wanting to be something like Bear Grylis. My son ate earthworms as I worked in the garden at age 1. I'm glad you gave the poem, I was wondering about yellow mushrooms. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I am going to try roasting some June Bugs tonight, as was bbq'ing dinner last night june Bugs kept dive bombing onto the grill and gave me the idea to eat them lol. What the heck, I'll give it a shot!

Jean Davis said...

I too have an ickyness to get over it!!
I heard blue caterpillars are edible "Naked & Afraid"

Anonymous said...

So, fire ants are truly useless.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the guy that says your nasty, the only time someone should eat a June bug is if their in starvation mode and theirs nothing else to eat, try a carrot, i bet you pigs have never heard of normal food though!

The_Mad_Catter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

It's a great way to use what too many people call pests. The real disgusting people are deforesting/sanctioning deforestation because they have to have beef so frequently.

Don Incognito said...

It's a great way to use what too many people call pests. The real disgusting people are deforesting/sanctioning deforestation because they have to have beef so frequently.

Anonymous said...

y'all need'ta ask God for [His] _heLp-!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!_

Robert Eby said...

Thanks Dr. M. Great blog. Some of the comments, though.............. :/