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Robber fly feeding on wasp
Fried saturniid caterpillars being served on bread for human consumption

Entomophagy (/ˌɛntəˈmɒfəi/, from Greek ἔντομον éntomon, 'insect', and φαγεῖν phagein, 'to eat') is the practice of eating insects. An alternative term is insectivory.[1][2] Terms for organisms that practice entomophagy are entomophage and insectivore.

Entomophagy is sometimes defined to also include the eating of arthropods other than insects, such as arachnids and myriapods; eating arachnids may also be referred to as arachnophagy.

In non-humans[edit]

Entomophagy among animals: The giant anteater is a mammal specialized in eating insects

Entomophagy is widespread among many animals, including non-human primates.[3] Animals that feed primarily on insects are called insectivores.

Insects,[4] nematodes[5] and fungi[6] that obtain their nutrition from insects are sometimes termed entomophagous, especially in the context of biological control applications. These may also be more specifically classified into predators, parasites or parasitoids, while viruses, bacteria and fungi that grow on or inside insects may also be termed entomopathogenic (see also entomopathogenic fungi).[citation needed]

In humans[edit]

Human consumption of a cirina larva in Burkina Faso

Entomophagy is scientifically described as widespread among non-human primates and common among many human communities.[3] The scientific term describing the practice of eating insects by humans is anthropo-entomophagy.[7] The eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults of certain insects have been eaten by humans from prehistoric times to the present day.[8] Around 3,000 ethnic groups practice entomophagy.[9] Human insect-eating (anthropo-entomophagy) is common to cultures in most parts of the world, including Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Eighty percent of the world's nations eat insects of 1,000 to 2,000 species.[10][11] FAO has registered some 1,900 edible insect species and estimates that there were, in 2005, some two billion insect consumers worldwide. FAO suggests eating insects as a possible solution to environmental degradation caused by livestock production.[12]

In some societies, primarily western nations, entomophagy is uncommon or taboo.[13][14][15][16][17][18] Today, insect eating is uncommon in North America and Europe, but insects remain a popular food elsewhere, and some companies are trying to introduce insects as food into Western diets.[19] A recent analysis of Google Trends data showed that people in Japan have become increasingly interested in entomophagy since 2013.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deluycker, Anneke (April 2017): Insectivory. In: The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. John Wiley & Sons. 10.1002/9781119179313.wbprim0062.
  2. ^ Science Direct: Insectivory.
  3. ^ a b Raubenheimer, David; Rothman, Jessica M. (January 2013). "Nutritional ecology of entomophagy in humans and other primates". Annual Review of Entomology. 58 (141–160): 141–160. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-120710-100713. PMID 23039342.
  4. ^ Clausen, Curtis Paul (1940). Entomophagous insects. OCLC 807191.[page needed]
  5. ^ Poinar, G.O. (1986). "Entomophagous Nematodes". Fortschritte der Zoologie. 32: 95–121.
  6. ^ Domnas, Aristotle J.; Warner, Steven A. (1991). "Biochemical Activities of Entomophagous Fungi". Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 18 (1): 1–13. doi:10.3109/10408419109113507. PMID 1854431.
  7. ^ Ramos-Elorduy, Julieta (2009). "Anthropo-entomophagy: Cultures, evolution and sustainability". Entomological Research. 39 (5): 271–288. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5967.2009.00238.x. S2CID 84739253.
  8. ^ "Entomophagy (Eating insects)". Center for Invasive Species Research, University of California (Research). Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  9. ^ Ramos-Elorduy, Julieta; Menzel, Peter (1998). Creepy crawly cuisine: the gourmet guide to edible insects. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-89281-747-4. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  10. ^ Carrington, Damian (1 August 2010). "Insects could be the key to meeting food needs of growing global population". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Ramos-Elorduy, Julieta (2009). "Anthropo-Entomophagy: Cultures, Evolution And Sustainability". Entomological Research. 39 (5): 271–288. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5967.2009.00238.x. S2CID 84739253.
  12. ^ "Insects for food and feed" (Press releases). FAO. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  13. ^ Meyer-Rochow, Victor Benno (2009). "Food taboos: their origins and purposes". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 5 (18): 18. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-5-18. PMC 2711054. PMID 19563636.
  14. ^ Weiss, M. L. & Mann, A.E. (1985). Human Biology and Behaviour: An Anthropological Perspective. Little Brown & Co. ISBN 978-0-673-39013-4.[page needed]
  15. ^ McElroy, A.; Townsend, P. K. (1989). Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective. Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-8133-0742-8.
  16. ^ Saggers, S. & Gray, D. (1991). Aboriginal Health & Society: The Traditional and Contemporary Aboriginal Struggle for Better Health. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86373-057-0.[page needed]
  17. ^ Gordon, David George (1998). The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-0-89815-977-6.[page needed]
  18. ^ Wilson, Charles B. (2015). All Cricket, No Bull... CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1503079649.[page needed]
  19. ^ Thompson, Addie (7 July 2013). "Want To Help Solve The Global Food Crisis? Eat More Crickets". Forbes.
  20. ^ Takada, Kenta (31 March 2022). "Do Japanese interest in anthropo-entomophagy become really increased? – Analysis on the Japanese interest using Google Trend (preliminary study)". Bulletin of the Itami City Museum of Insects. 10: 11–14. doi:10.34335/itakon.10.0_11.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Entomophagy at Wikimedia Commons