The BugLady’s first experience with entomology (well, except for the fresh-from-the-garden earthworms she consumed when she was 8) (they do not taste like chicken) came when someone gifted her family with a little box of chocolate-covered insects from a novelty store. No one ever opened it. Her first serious exposure to the idea of eating bugs came when she spent a week at the Audubon Camp in Maine. One of the camp’s teachers mentioned that he had eaten ants, and while the small red ones were too spicy for him and the large black ones were too bland, the species that are red at one end and black at the other were, like the Baby Bear’s bed, just right. The BugLady didn’t hear the term “entomophagy” until at least three decades later.
“Entomophagy” simply refers to the use of insects by humans as food (notwithstanding the fact that an “extract” of a scale insect called the cochineal bug provides a natural red dye called “red dye E120” or “carmine” that is widely used in food products; and that the FDA standards for food purity allow five fly eggs or one maggot per can of fruit juice and 400 insect parts per 0.22 cup of ground cinnamon). Used broadly, the term includes spiders and millipedes, but it does not include invertebrates like crayfish that are already part of our cuisine. Eggs, larvae, pupae and adults may be used, depending on the species. Some insects are eaten in recognizable form, but if staring into your food’s compound eyes isn’t your cup of tea, some insects are ground into “flour.”