Dealing with pests of all kinds is something humanity’s been struggling with since we decided we didn’t want to share our caves with the creepy-crawlies around us. And as pest control professionals, we’re accustomed to helping folks solve their pest problems with good old fashioned extermination and maintenance. But as global food challenges continue to mount, and pest problems persist, some people are looking to put edible insects on the menu and kill two birds (or at least bugs) with one stone.
Edible Insects: A History of Hungry Humans
Cultures around the globe have made dining on Mother Nature’s smaller livestock part of their daily eating routines since time immemorial. What might seem unusual to some—such as burgers made entirely from midge flies or crispy fried grasshoppers as a spicy snack— is a taste sensation to others. As the Library of Congress notes, humans have made insects part of their diet for tens of thousands of years, and they estimate that nearly two billion people continue to eat insects daily. That’s a lot of drumsticks!
Eating insects (also called entomophagy) has quite a bit to offer, once you get past the “ick” factor. Insects are high in protein, breed easily and frequently, and can be used for a variety of food applications. That’s why many food and famine scientists are exploring the possibility of farming the crispy little critters as part of their plan to fight global hunger and reduce humanity’s impact on our limited natural resources. Species spanning the nearly inconceivable array of insects are being harvested, eaten, and studied for their use as a protein source in a hungry world.
A Protein-Packed Pest
Beyond the health benefits, eating insects is an important part of controlling unwanted pests in certain areas of the world. The folks up north in Iowa may prefer to scrape their may flies off the road with snowplows when an infestation strikes, but in the area near Africa’s Lake Victoria, midge flies are a critical part of a balanced diet. Once a month, billions of the invasive little flies form a choking, clogging living fog that’s as inescapable as it is irritating. But with all that protein available, and little effort required to capture it beyond swinging a damp frying pan, midge burgers are a favorite treat that provides much-needed nutrition for lots of hungry people.
Midges aren’t the only species getting attention for their protein prowess, however. Scientists in both the European Union and the United States are exploring the feasibility of eating insects a little more indirectly—by making food for our food out of insects to reduce waste, preserve resources, and improve nutrition. The need for high-quality, nutritious food for our pets is another avenue of exploration, replacing the protein from larger livestock animals with insect protein for a cutting-edge approach to keeping Fido and Fluffy healthy and happy.
Elsewhere, Environmental groups and the health-conscious are also encouraging more people to join them in eating treats such as chapulines (spicy fried grasshoppers from Mexico) and cricket-protein powders for shakes, smoothies, and soups.
Is entomophagy the way of the future? It’s too early to say. But if humanity can find a way to make today’s pests into palatable protein and tempting treats, exterminators might need to start looking into culinary school.
Naturally, we don’t recommend you solve your home’s pest problems by picking up a knife and fork! If you’re dealing with rodents or roaches, don’t be afraid to give your friends at American Rat Control a call and schedule a free consultation. We may not have any zesty lo-cal mayfly recipes to share, but we will work with you to find a lasting solution to your pest control needs.