Survival Skills

How To Handle Insects


This article is taken from Bear's book How To Stay Alive.

Did you know that two-thirds of all living creatures are insects? They're the most abundant complex life form on the planet. By a long way. And that means there is a lot of food out there – if you know where to look. As the population of our planet increases, so will the demand for food. Our traditional sources of meat and fish won't be enough to feed us all.

Perhaps you think that eating insects sounds disgusting? Well, most of the world's population eats them on a regular basis. Insects and other bugs form an important part of the diets of many cultures around the world, from Asia to the Amazon, and for many indigenous people a plague of locusts is like the skies raining food.

Most insects are edible, but you should avoid any that have very brightly coloured markings. That's nature's warning to stay away, and although there are some edible types that are brightly coloured, it's worth avoiding them just to be safe. Insects are also mostly edible raw – though, as with all raw foods, there's a risk that they might carry parasite infections and the only way to get rid of these is by the application of heat. So cook your bugs if you can – you'll find some ideas for how to do this below.

The best place to find insects during the day is in cool, shady places. They will burrow into the bark of trees, or congregate in dark, damp holes. If you're lucky, you'll find beetle larvae. These can grow up to 15cm long and are particularly nutritious – if you can swallow them down without gagging!

Here are some of Bear's top tips for how to handle insects safely in a survival situation:

Crickets
One of Bear's favourites! Easy to catch, found in most locations and pretty palatable as far as insects go!

Ants
Never underestimate the humble ant! Make sure to cook them first to destroy a toxin many of them harbour.

Beetles
A great source of protein. Remove the head and wings, then wash them well in fresh water before boiling or frying.

Centipedes (not millipedes!)
One to avoid unless you know your stuff as they need to be handled with extreme care.

Earthworms
Full of protein and very abundant wherever the soil is rich and moist. Drop them into clean water for 10 minutes, causing the worm to clean themselves out of all dirt before you eat them.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is presented as general guidance in relation to the subject addressed. It is not a substitute and not to be relied on for medical or other professional advice on specific circumstances and in specific locations. So far as the author is aware the information given is correct and up to date at the time of publication. The author disclaim, as far as the law allows, any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use, or misuse, of the information contained in this article.

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