Should You Eat Insects in a Survival Situation?

The procurement of calories is always near the top of a prepper’s mind in a survival situation. While it is true that most of us can survive for quite a while eating nothing thanks to our body’s stores of fat, a lack of calorie intake will begin to degrade both physical and mental performance, reducing your efficiency, dulling your reflexes, and slowing your thoughts when you need to be at your sharpest.

Regular meals will keep up your energy and keep your morale up, both important considerations. However, the amount of weight and space we can devote to food among our supplies is limited, and once it runs out we will need to get more ourselves.

Animal protein is an ideal source of calories and nutrition, but not always easy to get or plentiful. Some survival trainers and outdoor experts recommended supplementing your calorie intake with insects in a survival situation. It certainly sounds disgusting at first thought.

Should you eat insects in a survival situation? Yes, you can eat insects in a survival situation. Insects are easy to catch, full of protein and generally far more plentiful than other live food sources. Insects can also be eaten with minimal preparation compared to other animals; some can even be eaten raw to maximize efficiency.

No matter where you might be, there will be some insects in that region that are suitable for consumption. This makes them a mainstay survival food and one you should strive to develop your palette for.

But, like most things we want to consume, there are always some precautions and considerations, factors we will delve into in more detail below, as well as offer a few suggestions for the tastiest and best bugs for eating!

Avoid Colorful and Known Venomous/Poisonous Bugs

Generally speaking, you only want to eat insects that are some kind of earth-tone color, think variations on brown, tan, black and green.

As you probably know, insects which have bright colors or aggressive patterning are usually advertising either their defensive capabilities in the form of a venomous sting or bite, or the fact that they are toxic if eaten, and should be avoided.

There are exceptions, but these are individual cases you will have to learn on your own. Colorful bugs should never be eaten in an exploratory fashion!

In general, red or yellow bands that alternate between black and brown are surefire indicators of a stinging insect. Bees, wasps, and hornets make use of these patterns or a plain, bright color to advertise their potent defensive apparatus.

The bright red body of a common centipede also warns of the fact they have a venomous bite. This is one rule of thumb that will rarely let you down.

You should also avoid eating known venomous bugs whole, as you’ll be consuming their venom along with their nutritious bits, although there are exceptions. For instance, scorpions can be eaten once their tail mounted stinger and venom sac are removed.

A little investigation on the internet will furnish you ample instruction on how best to prepare certain venomous insects for consumption.

“Clean” Larger Insects before Consuming

Various larger insects, like grasshoppers and cicadas, might present a culinary challenge or even a hazard when the time comes to eat them because of their size and anatomy.

Grasshoppers have large and powerful rear legs that they use to launch themselves into the air, and these are typically covered with spines which can injure the soft tissues of your mouth or even catch in your throat. These should be removed and discarded prior to preparation and eating.

Insects that fly often make great meals, but their wings are rarely palatable. If in doubt, remove the wings and the hard, inflexible wing covers that protect them.

The loss of calories will be negligible, and much of the flavor as well as the nutrition found in bugs is obtained from the thorax and abdomen, not the extremities.

Further investigation will yield quite a few insects that are suitable for eating whole and live if you are on the move or just don’t have time or resources for cooking.

This is definitely an exercise that will test your mettle, but even if you are not cooking your insects there are some you should dispatch as they can potentially put up a fight before going down the hatch.

You don’t want something bouncing around in your mouth prior to you biting down on it, and having your meal bite you back where you are biting it is very poor form!

Cook if You Can

I already mentioned quite a few insects are suitable for eating raw, even alive, but please believe me when I tell you that a little preparation and proper cooking will go a long way to improving the quality of your meal and your peace of mind.

Though the concept is almost entirely foreign to the West, cultures all around the world have made insects a staple of their diets even when they aren’t in survival situations.

There are all kinds of recipes and cultural dishes that call for seasoning or preparing bugs in various way. From skewering and roasting to frying and baking there is always a way to make the bug more palatable and tastier.

If you are the type of prepper who carries an assortment of spices with you in your mess kit, this is definitely the time to use them. A little shot of oil in a pan, some proper seasonings, and a little time over an open fire, and you might actually enjoy the experience.

Take the Plunge Now

It is hard to countenance, but the time to take your first bite of an insect is not when you are in the middle of a survival situation and starving.

While it is true that starvation is indeed the best “seasoning” around, the mental strain could be substantial considering you are probably already stressed out and suffering. Better to introduce yourself and start acclimatizing your palate now under controlled conditions.

The internet delivers again here, as there are quite a few insects available for mail order from online sources, seasoned to taste and prepared using various methods.

You might not even have to risk embarrassment sampling insects in public; you can do it right in the privacy of your own home!

Below are our top three choices for insects you can use to supplement your survival rations and they’re actually pretty tasty to boot.

If you are going to start anywhere, start here, and make sure you keep your eyes open for these plentiful, nutritious critters when you are in a survival situation; they very well might keep you from starving.

1. Cicada

These large and freakishly noisy flying insects are not always common, but when there is a mass emergence you can literally pick them up right off the ground and pluck them from every tree. This is one insect that benefits much from cooking, both in flavor and texture, so you should try roasting them or deep frying them.

Remove the wings. An improvised skewer made from a branch will help keep them from burning over an open fire. Once again seasonings will definitely help you out.

2. Cricket

Crickets are extremely common pretty much everywhere, and oftentimes referred to by insect gourmands as the “shrimp of the land”. Like their larger cousin the grasshopper, you should endeavor to remove the rear legs in order to eliminate a potential choking hazard.

Yummy cooking Crickets recipe - Cooking skill

Roast these or lightly pan-fry them for best results. These are one of the easier insects to consume without any seasoning.

3. Grasshopper

A large and impressive looking hopper is absolutely packed with protein. Take care, as they are good flyers and capable of repeated high-velocity jumps!

Yummy cooking grasshopper with salt recipe - Cooking skill

Nonetheless, they are totally worth the effort to snag. Remove the rear legs, or if you want to make use of every morsel hack off their spines before roasting these big boys over open coals.

Conclusion

Though the idea of eating insects even in a survival situation is nauseating to most Westerners, they represent a reliable and easily caught source of protein for anyone in a survival situation.

Insects are plentiful and available the world around, and if you are not prepared to take the plunge and eat insect life in order to supplement your calorie stores, I recommend you correct this deficiency posthaste.

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