ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Edible Insects in China: Utilization and Prospects

  • the Research Insitiute of Resource Insect,Chinese Academy of Forestry,China,Kunming
  • Research Institute of Resources Insects, Chinese Academy of Forestry

Abstract and Figures

The use of edible insects has a long history in China, where they have been consumed for more than two thousand years. In general, the level of acceptance is high for the consumption of insects in China. Many studies on edible insects have been conducted in the last twenty years, and the scope of the research includes the culture of entomophagy and the identification, nutritional value, farming and breeding of edible insects, in addition to food production and safety. Currently, 324 species of insects from 11 orders are documented that are either edible or associated with entomophagy in China, which include the common edible species, some less commonly consumed species, and some medicinal insects. However, only approximately 10 to 20 types of insects are consumed regularly. The nutritional values for 174 species are available in China, including edible, feed and medicinal species. Although the nutritional values vary among species, all the insects examined contain protein, fat, vitamins and minerals at levels that meet human nutritional requirements. Edible insects were, and continue to be, consumed by different ethnic groups in many parts of China. People directly consume insects or food products made from insects. The processing of products from insect protein powder, oil, and chitin and the development of health care foods has been studied in China. People also consume insects indirectly by eating livestock that were fed insects, which may be a more acceptable pathway to use insects in human diets. Although limited, the data on the food safety of insects indicate that insects are safe for food or feed. Incidences of allergic reactions after consuming silkworm pupae, cicades and crickets have been reported in China. Insect farming is a unique breeding industry in rural China and is a source of income for local people. Insects are reared and bred for human food, medicine and animal feed using two approaches in China: the insects are either fully domesticated and reared completely in captivity or are partially raised in captivity, and the insect habitat is manipulated to increase production. Depending on the type of relationship the insect has with humans, plants, and the environment, different farming strategies are used. The social and scientific communities must work together to promote the use of insects as food and feed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Insect Science (2017) 0, 1–15, DOI 10.1111/1744-7917.12449
Edible insects in China: Utilization and prospects
Ying Feng , Xiao-Ming Chen, Min Zhao, Zhao He, Long Sun, Cheng-Ye Wang and
Wei-Feng Ding
Research Institute of Resource Insects, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Kunming, China
Abstract The use of edible insects has a long history in China, where they have been
consumed for more than 2000 years. In general, the level of acceptance is high for the
consumption of insects in China. Many studies on edible insects have been conducted in
the last 20 years, and the scope of the research includes the culture of entomophagy and the
identification, nutritional value, farming and breeding of edible insects, in addition to food
production and safety. Currently, 324 species of insects from 11 orders are documented
that are either edible or associated with entomophagy in China, which include the common
edible species, some less commonly consumed species and some medicinal insects. How-
ever, only approximately 10 to 20 types of insects are regularly consumed. The nutritional
values for 174 species are available in China, including edible, feed and medicinal species.
Although the nutritional values vary among species, all the insects examined contain pro-
tein, fat, vitamins and minerals at levels that meet human nutritional requirements. Edible
insects were, and continue to be, consumed by different ethnic groups in many parts of
China. People directly consume insects or food products made from insects. The processing
of products from insect protein powder, oil and chitin, and the development of healthcare
foods has been studied in China. People also consume insects indirectly by eating livestock
that were fed insects, which may be a more acceptable pathway to use insects in human
diets. Although limited, the data on the food safety of insects indicate that insects are safe
for food or feed. Incidences of allergic reactions after consuming silkworm pupae, cicadas
and crickets have been reported in China. Insect farming is a unique breeding industry
in rural China and is a source of income for local people. Insects are reared and bred for
human food, medicine and animal feed using two approaches in China: the insects are
either fully domesticated and reared completely in captivity or are partially raised in cap-
tivity, and the insect habitat is manipulated to increase production. Depending on the type
of relationship the insect has with humans, plants and the environment, different farming
strategies are used. The social and scientific communities must work together to promote
the use of insects as food and feed.
Key words edible insects; entomophagy; nutritive value; insect food safety; insect
Insects are commonly used as a source of food by peo-
ple in many parts of the world. As of 2012, over 1900
species have been recorded as food in Asia, Africa, Ocea-
nia, and North and South America (van Huis, 2013). In
Correspondence: Xiao-Ming Chen, Research Institute
of Resource Insects, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Bai-
longsi, Panlong District, Kunming 650224, China. Email:
many regions, a large biomass of insects can be obtained
as food; in part, this is because of the high diversity of in-
sects associated with different environments, but it is also
because of the ability of many species to breed quickly.
According to previous research, many species of insects
are highly nutritious and a healthy food source for peo-
ple (Ramos-Elorduy, 2005; Chen et al., 2008; van Huis
et al., 2013). Insects are efficient in converting their food
into protein, and some species can be reared on organic
waste. Compared with conventional meat-producing ani-
mals, such as cattle, pigs and poultry, insects can provide
C2017 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2Y. Feng et al.
the equivalent amount of animal protein using less land
and water, in addition to producing much lower levels of
greenhouse gases (Dennis et al., 2010). With the increas-
ing global population and the decreasing availability of
arable land, selecting and developing additional food and
feed resources are essential, and insects are an important
potential source of food and feed (van Huis et al., 2013).
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Na-
tions regards insects as a potential sustainable food source
with which to respond to global food security concerns
and encourages a greater use of insects in our diets (Van-
tomme, 2015). The potential of insect food has generated
global interest to develop and use insect-food products
and has promoted more research and development on edi-
ble insects. Many countries have a history of using insects
as food, and this traditional knowledge should be an im-
portant contribution to the future development of insects
as a food ingredient worldwide.
China has over 2000 years of history with the use of
edible insects. The history dates even further back to the
period when the ancient Chinese reared silkworms and
consumed silkworm pupae (Zhou, 1980; Zhou, 1982).
Despite global changes in the diets of people, the culture
of insect consumption remains viable in China. Edible in-
sects were, and continue to be, consumed in many areas
of China by different ethnic groups (Luo, 2005). Many
examples of ancient Chinese literature described in detail
the common types of edible insects and the techniques
for collecting and cooking insects (Liu, 1991). Since the
1980s, scientific research on food insects has expanded
to include the identification of species, evaluation of nu-
trition, new approaches to farming and explorations of
the culture associated with human entomophagy. In re-
cent years, research on using insects as human food and
feed has accelerated further with the recognition of insect
nutritional benefits and the potential of insects to ensure
food security. As a result of this effort, the number of pub-
lished scientific papers and books on edible insects has
increased. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to review
briefly the use and the prospects for future use of edible
insects in China, based on the results of scientific research
that the authors have conducted over 20 years and that of
other published references.
Edible insect resource
An accurate estimate of the number of edible insect
species worldwide has not yet been determined for sev-
eral reasons. According to literature published in differ-
ent regions of the world, more than 1900 edible species
is an acceptable number. Most insects that are consumed
Hemiptera, 6.17%
Isoptera, 4.94% Odonata, 1.54%
Diptera and
Blattaria, 2.79%
Fig. 1 Percentages of 324 species of insects in 11 orders asso-
ciated with food and feed in China.
are species in the orders Coleoptera (31%), Lepidoptera
(18%) and Hymenoptera (14%), with others in Orthoptera
(13%), Hemiptera (10%), Isoptera (3%), Odonata (3%),
Diptera (2%) and other orders (5%) (van Huis et al., 2013).
In China, the count of edible insect species is also incom-
plete. In 1999, 177 edible insect species were recorded in
China (Feng et al., 1999), but in 2010, 283 species were
listed as food insects (Hu & Zha, 2009). However, less than
100 species are commonly consumed, and only 10 to 20
types are consumed often, which include several species
of bees and wasps, silkworms, crickets, bamboo caterpil-
lars, dragonflies and beetles. The number of edible insects
continues to increase as more scientific papers are pub-
lished. Based on the published literature until 2014, 324
documented species are related to food and feed in China,
which include the common edible insect species, some
less commonly consumed species and some medicinal in-
sects (Feng et al., 2016). The 324 species are in 11 insect
orders, with Lepidoptera (37.65%), Coleoptera (18.21%)
and Hymenoptera (15.43%) contributing 71.30% of the
total numbers. The other orders are Orthoptera (13.27%),
Hemiptera (6.17%), Isoptera (4.94%), Odonata (1.54%),
and Megaloptera, Ephemeroptera, Diptera and Blattaria
(four orders with a total of 2.79%; Fig. 1) (Feng et al.,
2016). These orders are discussed below in order from
high to low percentages of edible species of the total
Order Lepidoptera
In Lepidoptera, 253 species were recorded as human
food worldwide as of 2005 (Ramos-Elorduy, 2005). In
China, 122 species of lepidopterans are documented, and
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Edible Insects in China 3
the nutrient content of 34 species has been analyzed (Feng
et al., 2016). The host insects of Chinese caterpillar fun-
gus and the moths that produce insect tea are a large
portion of the edible lepidopteran species recorded and
make Lepidoptera the largest group of edible insects in
China. The famous Chinese caterpillar fungus has been
traditionally used as both a medicine and a health food
for a long time. Many aspects of the Chinese caterpillar
fungus, such as the host insects, medicinal and health-
care functions and farming technology, among others, are
well studied in China (Zhang et al., 2013; Dong et al.,
2016). However, based on considerations of food safety,
the Chinese caterpillar fungus is not currently recom-
mended as a common food for consumption according to
the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA, 2016).
Eighty-six lepidopteran species are recorded as hosts of
the Chinese caterpillar fungus and other fungi, and among
them, the larvae and pupae of some species are edible.
Insect tea is from feces excreted by several caterpillars
eating certain species of plants and is a special drink in
some areas of southern China. Eleven species produce
insect tea but only two species are commercially bred
to produce insect tea (Yang & Yi, 2011). In addition to
Chinese caterpillar fungus and insect tea, a few other lar-
vae of moths and butterflies are also edible. The stages
of moths and butterflies usually eaten by people are the
larvae and pupae. Silkworms (Bombyx mori L.) and tus-
sah silkworms (Antheraea pernyi Gu´
eneville) have
long been domesticated in China (Zhou, 1982), because
humans obtain silk for textiles from their cocoons. Pu-
pae of the two silk-producing moths are edible and can
be used as material to produce healthcare foods. The lar-
vae and adults of the two silkworms are food material in
some places, such as Henan Province. A well-known edi-
ble insect is the bamboo caterpillar in southern China and
southern Asian countries (Feng & Chen, 2000; Boulidam,
2010; Hanboonsong, 2010). The nutritive content data for
some butterflies are available (Shi et al., 2015), but the
larvae of butterflies are less common as edible species
in China.
Order Coleoptera
Beetles are one of the largest groups of edible insects
worldwide, with 468 species recorded in 2005 (Ramos-
Elorduy, 2005). Many beetles, particularly their larvae,
are also edible in China, including long-horned beetles,
grubs, dung beetles and aquatic beetles. People usually
eat beetle larvae; however, adult diving beetles are also
consumed (Guo et al., 2003; Cong, 2007). Fifty-nine
recorded species of beetle are used in China as food,
feed or medicine. The nutritive data of 39 species, in-
cluding for medicinal species, are available (Feng et al.,
2016). Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor L.) are well known,
although these larvae were previously typically reared for
bird feed. Mealworms are currently easily reared in captiv-
ity and then used to produce products such as snacks and
those made from insect protein, oil and chitin (Liu et al.,
2010). The beetles of Meloidae and Blaps are important
folk medicinal insects in China (Yang, 2015).
Order Hymenoptera
Bees, wasps and ants are consumed in many regions of
the world, particularly in southern Asia, with 351 edible
species (Ramos-Elorduy, 2005). Fifty species are recorded
for food and medicine in China, and among these species,
the nutrient contents have been analyzed for 35 (Feng
et al., 2016). The larvae and pupae of wasps are the most
common edible insects in many regions of China, and
the production of honey and other products by honey-
bees is well developed and widely used. In addition to
harvesting honey, people also collect bee larvae and pu-
pae to eat. Local people cook the larvae and pupae of
bees and wasps in several ways, such as boiling, frying
and roasting. Uncooked, raw larvae are also consumed in
some areas. In summer and early autumn, several species
of wasps are commonly found in local markets in Yun-
nan Province and other regions in southern China (Chen
et al., 2009). Wasps and wild bees are primarily collected
from the wild. Skilled collectors wear protective coats to
avoid the sting of adult wasps and collect combs with
larvae and pupae for sale and their own consumption.
Several species of ants are edible and are also used as tra-
ditional Chinese medicine (Wu & Wang, 1995; Liu et al.,
2006). Polyrhachis dives Smith has been well studied in
China and is used as raw material to make health food and
medicine for the treatment of rheumatic disease (Wang &
Wang, 2010).
Order Orthoptera
Grasshoppers, locusts, katydids and crickets are com-
mon edible insects worldwide, particularly in Japan and
Thailand (van Huis et al., 2013). In Orthoptera, 43 species
have edible value in China. The nutritional data of 37
species are available, although some of these species
are not commonly used as human food (Feng et al.,
2016). Orthopterans are easily collected because of their
large body size. Fried nymph and adult grasshoppers, lo-
custs and crickets are common dishes in many regions of
China. Locusts are also used as bird feed, and Locusta
C2017 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 0, 1–15
4Y. Feng et al.
migratoria manilensis (Meyen) are bred in plastic houses
to produce human food and pet bird feed. Some species
of locusts, crickets and katydids have medicinal value (Li
et al., 2013).
Order Hemiptera
Hemipterans are popular edible insects in many regions
of the world, with more than 190 edible species identi-
fied (Ramos-Elorduy, 2005). In Hemiptera, cicadas, scale
insects and stinkbugs are the three groups frequently con-
sumed. Currently, 20 edible species are recorded in China.
Among them, the nutritive elements have been analyzed
for 13 species (Feng et al., 2016). The cicada slough of
some species and the adult Aspongopus chinensis Dalla
have been used in traditional Chinese medicine (Yang,
2015). Cicadas and stinkbugs were also used as food in an-
cient China, with the collecting and cooking methods for
these bugs recorded in the ancient literature (Liu, 1991).
Fried and roasted cicadas are consumed in both southern
and northern China.
Order Isoptera
Termites are common edible insects in many regions of
the world, and 61 scientifically recognized species of edi-
ble termites have been identified (Ramos-Elorduy, 2005).
Termites are often consumed in southern China. Local
people collect the termites when they swarm from their
nests after rains to start new colonies and also attempt to
dig out termite hills to collect the queen, solider termites
and worker termites for consumption. Termites are also
used as poultry feed. The estimates are that more than
30 types of termites are edible in China, although only
16 species have been scientifically named and nutritional
data are available for only five species (Feng et al., 2016).
Since ancient times, termites and their nests have been
used as traditional Chinese medicines (Li et al., 2013).
Termites Odontotermes formosanus (Shiraki) have been
used as ingredients in health foods, and Zhang (1999)
demonstrated that termites might boost immune system
function and possess anti-fatigue properties.
Order Odonata
Dragonfly nymphs are an accepted food in many regions
of the world, with 29 edible species recorded (Ramos-
Elorduy, 2005). Dragonfly nymphs and adults are of-
ten consumed by local people in the provinces of Yun-
nan, Sichuan and Guizhou in China. Because dragonfly
nymphs live in fresh and clean water, they are often col-
lected and sold with small fish and shrimps. Chicken egg
fried with dragonfly nymphs, soup of dragonfly nymphs
mixed with vegetables, and roasted dragonfly adults and
nymphs are popular dishes. China is estimated to have 10
edible species but only five of these species are identified,
and nutritional data are available for only three species
(Feng et al., 2001). Among the species of dragonfly, Anax
parthenope (Selys) is the most common edible species.
Orders Diptera and Blattaria
Flies and cockroaches are not typical foods for people,
although both types of insects were eaten in ancient times
(Liu, 1991), but these insects are used as animal feed.
Different species of flies that feed on organic matter, such
as the housefly and the black soldier fly, can be used to
convert organic wastes into fertilizers. Moreover, the bod-
ies of insects are rich in protein and are therefore good
feed for livestock (Yu et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2013).
Therefore, humans benefit indirectly from the use of flies
in the treatment of waste and as feed. The nutrient con-
tents of four fly larvae were analyzed (Huang et al., 2007).
Because flies are reared easily in massive numbers, some
researchers are attempting to use these flies to produce
food products for humans that include proteins, oils and
chitin (Zhang et al., 2009). However, before human use as
food, scientific research on food safety is required. Cock-
roaches Periplaneta americana (L.), which are used as
medicinal material in traditional Chinese medicine and in
the modern pharmaceutical industry (Hu et al., 2008; Luo
et al., 2012), are successfully reared in completely artifi-
cial conditions in China (Feng et al., 2016). In addition to
their use in medicine, cockroaches are also used as animal
feed and as human food in some regions on a small scale
(Zhou et al., 2007; Yang et al., 2010).
Orders Ephemeroptera and Megaloptera
Mayfly and alderfly nymphs are edible aquatic species.
Nineteen species of mayflies are consumed worldwide
(Ramos-Elorduy, 2005). Mayflies were used as food in
ancient China (Liu, 1991); however, currently, edible
mayflies are less common in China. The only species
of edible mayfly, Ephemeterella jianghongensis Xu et al.,
is found in Yunnan Province (Feng et al., 1999). Of the
Megaloptera, the nymphs of two species Acanthacory-
dalis orientalis (McLachlan) and Noeochauliodes spar-
sus Liu et Yang contain high levels of protein and are
commonly eaten in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces (Feng
et al., 1999; Wang & Liu, 2011). Alderflies are often
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Edible Insects in China 5
regarded as a delicious and nutritious food. Local people
prepare alderfly larvae with chicken eggs to serve as a
remedy food for ill children and sick patients. The col-
lecting of alderflies in the wild and the cooking methods
are well developed by local people in Southwest China
(Feng et al., 2016).
Nutritional and health benefits of edible insects
The nutritional composition of many insects has been
studied both in China and other countries. In the analysis
of insects, the primary nutritional values are those for pro-
tein, fat, amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins
(Chen et al., 2008, 2009; van Huis et al., 2013). The In-
ternational Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS)
included data for 514 insect entries in the second edition
in 2012, with only four entries cited from China. How-
ever, the nutritional values of insects have been studied
for many years in China before 2012. The nutritional val-
ues for 174 species, including edible, feed and medicinal
species, are available in China, according to our statistics
based on published literature to 2014 (Feng et al., 2016).
Although the nutritional values are variable, the values for
insects demonstrate that levels of protein, fats, vitamins
and minerals are sufficient to meet human nutritional re-
quirements (Tables 1 and 2). The data on nutrition show
that the level of good quality protein is high in insects,
at approximately 50% of total insect weight. Insects also
have high contents of the essential amino acids in their
proteins. Some insects store large amounts of fat, often
with high levels of unsaturated fatty acids (Lian et al.,
2008). Thus, based on scientific research, the nutritional
quality of insects is high and meets human requirements;
therefore, insects are potentially a good source of pro-
tein for human food and animal feed (Wang et al., 2006;
Chen et al., 2008; Zhou et al., 2009; Li et al., 2010; Ji
et al., 2012). Moreover, some insects tested show high
nutritional values; however, they are not often consumed
because most of these species are not part of the tradi-
tional diet and people are less familiar with these insects.
Additionally, some species are poisonous to humans or
are used for medicinal purposes only, such as the beetles
of Meloidae and Blaps (Yang, 2015). Therefore, the nu-
tritional analysis of a large selection of insects remains
to be conducted. In addition to nutritional benefits, the
results of some studies demonstrate that insects provide
many health benefits and can be developed into health
foods. Scientific research has conf irmed that some in-
sects and their extracts function in immune regulation
and contain anti-fatigue and antioxidant compounds (Liu
& Wei, 2002). The precise functions of insect chitin and
other polysaccharides in human physiology continue to be
investigated, although some promising results with water-
soluble insect polysaccharides indicate benefits for im-
mune regulation and antioxidant and anticancer functions
(Feng et al., 2016).
Edible insect use
Humans use edible insects in two ways: insects are con-
sumed as food directly or are used to produce food in-
gredients, and insects are used as animal feedstuff for
livestock and other animals to indirectly meet the differ-
ent requirements of humans.
Since ancient times, insects have been a food resource
for humans in many regions of China (Liu, 1991; Luo,
2005). Traditional customs of consuming insects are well
maintained in some communities, particularly in regions
in which different ethnic groups live, such as in Yun-
nan and Guizhou provinces in Southwest China. Ethnic
groups such as the Dai, Hani, Yi and Gelao and other
people living in these regions, have always used wasps,
ants, cicadas, dragonflies, bamboo caterpillars and other
insects in their traditional diets. The ‘Bug Eating Festival’
is held annually in these regions (Yang, 1999; Ye, 2011).
Insects were, and continue to be, an important nutritional
source for local people. From their long experience of
collecting, local people have summarized how to gather
insects in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.
For example, locals do not gather all the insects but leave
part of a colony to reproduce new generations, and they
also protect colonies in the winter. Many different ways
to cook and prepare insect dishes have been developed by
local people, such as steaming, roasting, frying and stew-
ing. To make vinegar, some local inhabitants in Yunnan
use one type of ant (Feng et al., 2016). Insect dishes are
common in the restaurants of both urban and rural regions.
Silkworm pupae are commonly consumed in southern and
northern China, and tussah silkworm pupae are often con-
sumed in northern China. In Zhejiang, people enjoy eating
cicadas; in Guangdong, they use aquatic beetles to make
soup; and in some regions of southern China, people drink
insect tea (Yang & Yi, 2011).
Insects are not a primary food source and are a small
portion of the total food produced compared with other
conventional food sources such as pork, beef and poul-
try. The reason, at least in part, is that the large output
of conventional food production is easy to obtain using
advanced agricultural techniques. Additionally, currently,
edible insects are typically recognized and accepted as
unique, local foods and the food of minorities. Edible in-
sects are often prepared by roasting or frying in oil and
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6Y. Feng et al.
Tab l e 1 Nutrient composition of insects from 11 orders (%).
Order Name (species
protein Crude fat Total sugar Ash Total amino
amino acids
Proportion of
essential amino
fatty acids
Proportion of
fatty acids
Lepidoptera Caterpillar
fungus (1)
27.51 10.91 18.98 – 20.70 6.76 31.91
Cordyceps (3) 68.01 4.69 10.86 34.12 12.36 36.50
Insect tea (6) 9.00–28.00 0.80–3.00 0.31–16.27 4.47–63.20 5.80–16.70 2.20–5.75 26.00–43.00 51.04 51.57
Moths and
52.82 28.34 5.96 3.81 46.75 17.72 37.90 69.29 69.63
Coleoptera Beetles (16) 34.00–60.00 17.00–54.00 1.00–8.00 1.00–2.60 41.71 15.74 37.74 70.32 70.32
Hymenoptera Bees (21) 53.45 19.73 13.99 3.71 45.83 16.96 33.55 59.10 59.85
Ants (17) 50.52 24.02 3.09 4.42 37.29 13.09 35.70 79.05 79.99
Orthoptera Grasshoppers,
crickets (18)
63.78 10.00 1.50 5.00 66.54 24.78 37.44 77.50 77.50
Hemiptera Bugs (13) 20.00–60.00 2.00–50.00 1.00–6.00 1.00–7.00 46.89 18.24 38.90 55.62 60.52
Isoptera Termites (5) 42.01 15.91 37.87 74.19 74.19
Odonata Dragonflies (3) 58.82 25.37 3.75 4.49 46.17 16.41 35.55
Megaloptera Alderflies (2) 62.13 10.40 1.59 7.05 56.02 25.39 45.32
Ephemeroptera Mayflies (1) 66.26 65.36 23.81 36.43
Diptera Flies (4) 61.06 17.78 10.26 55.47 21.25 38.29 62.06 64.13
Blattaria American
63.10 17.20 – 5.68 55.33 21.00 37.95 71.87 71.87
–: Data not available.
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Edible Insects in China 7
Tab l e 2 Mineral element contents in insects (mg/kg).
Common elements Trace elements
Order Name (species
numbers) Na K Ca Mg P Fe Zn Se Cu Cr Mn Mo
Lepidoptera Cordyceps “Chong
cao” (3)
547.30 12 895.00 1849.70 3840.70 9882.00 1428.70 91.30 0.36 12.90 1.95 23.20 0.27
Insect tea (5) 383.90 16 836.30 6239.10 3841.50 1731.00 2068.60 413.20 0.13 – – 616.70 –
Moths and butterflies
407.35 10 946.61 989.51 1933.18 5588.86 89.27 107.61 10.09 14.11 12.88
Coleoptera Beetles (28) 546.50 5473.50 769.30 777.30 3806.40 278.80 88.60 0.60 15.60 0.06 17.70 6.10
Hymenoptera Bees (8) 2469.10 228.90 197.70 4082.00 25.00 18.80 0.38 4.10 0.10 12.30
Ants (14) 6360.20 2226.90 2191.10 6334.40 560.40 222.80 0.84 19.60 32.50 326.20 8.00
Orthoptera Grasshoppers, locusts,
crickets (12)
1716.00 773.30 928.30 4245.30 184.20 146.60 8.10 49.50 37.04 16.83
Hemiptera Bugs (9) 586.00 1688.80 698.00 631.40 4172.50 216.20 78.60 46.30 1.96 32.10
Isoptera Termites (3) 1103.00 6564.50 1015.50 1363.30 5734.00 1012.90 167.70 0.28 23.20 0.15
Odonata Dragonflies (3) 796.17 125.43 – 59.90 –
Diptera Flies (4) 2700.00 7924.60 19 595.90 6734.30 11 100.00 286.10 298.70 33.30 1.33 215.80
Blattaria American cockroaches
14 826.70 320.00 446.70 5323.30 103.20 96.10 0.05 14.39 3.17
–: Data not available.
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8Y. Feng et al.
are served as dishes with wine or as snacks or barbecued.
The acceptance level of insects as food varies in different
areas. Therefore, to promote insects as a food resource
in ordinary diets, it is essential that insects be used in
a variety of utility patterns. Humans use insects either
directly or indirectly. People directly consume insects or
consume products made from insects. In some regions
in which edible insects are consumed often, the common
edible insects, such as the silkworm, bamboo insect, crick-
ets and wasps, are consumed directly. Good methods to
cook these insects can promote popularization of insects
as food. Some insect menus and cookbooks published in
China and other countries are now available and serve as a
conduit to teach more people to cook and eat insects (Feng
et al., 2016). Compared with the direct consumption of
insects, consuming products made from insects is easier
to accept. Research on mealworms, silkworms, termites
and other insects has led to the development of health
foods. Some food products using insects as ingredients
have also been tested (Peng et al., 2003; Li et al., 2005;
Liu & Xiang, 2006). Because mealworms grow rapidly
and feed on the organic residues of human consumption,
such as the outer leaves and the skin of vegetables and
fruits, and are rich in proteins with a reasonable ratio of
amino acids, they were selected to test their possible use
as one type of protein source for people in space travel
and on space stations (Fu, 2014).
People indirectly consume insects by eating livestock,
such as chickens and fish that are fed insects, which is an
easier and more acceptable way to use insects in human
diets. Insects are fed to poultry, pigs, fish and other ani-
mals consumed by humans (Wang et al., 2006; Li et al.,
2007; Guo & Xiong, 2008), and insects are a natural
food for poultry and fish, which are products easily ac-
cepted by humans. Research on the use of feedstuff with
added insects for poultry, fish and other livestock has led
to small-scale implementation in China. The quality of
animals fed on feed with the additions of insects is ap-
proximately the same as that of conventional animals fed
on fishmeal and may even be better because insects con-
tain abundant protein. The unique antimicrobial peptides
and other substances in insect feed may not only enrich
the diet of livestock but also increase their resistance to
disease (Wang et al., 2006). Based on research, insects are
a good livestock meal and could be a supplement to the
fishmeal used in poultry, fish and other livestock breed-
ing (van Huis et al., 2013). Currently, mealworms hold
the greatest promise as a feed additive, because they feed
on a variety of agricultural residues, grow rapidly and can
be reared in large numbers under artificial conditions (De
Marco et al., 2015). Grasshoppers and cockroaches are
also used to feed poultry (Yao & Yao, 2006; Liu et al.,
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Number of patent applications
Fig. 2 Number of patent applications associated with meal-
worms from 1989 to 2015 in China. Note: the data are from a gen-
eral website patent search and analysis of the State Intellectual
Property Office of the P.R. of China (
Only data for patent applications from Chinese were included.
2009; Yang et al., 2014). Because housefly and black sol-
dier fly larvae feed on manure and other organic waste,
they can be applied to organic waste treatment for en-
vironmental protection. Additionally, these same larvae
may provide valuable feedstuff for breeding livestock (Yu
et al., 2009; An et al., 2010; Pastor et al., 2015); however,
a safety evaluation is required before implementing the
large-scale use of these flies in feed.
Insects are also used as feed and feed additives for
pets, snakes, frogs, minks, foxes, soft-shelled turtles and
geckos, which are valued as special economic animals in
China because they are sources of fur or feathers or the
animals are raw materials for medicines (Zhou et al., 2002;
Bai & Cheng, 2003; Liu et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2014).
The usage of insects as feed and feed additives for these
animals may also reduce their demand for other sources
of protein feedstuff, which indirectly benefits humans.
Recently, the use of insects as food and feed has de-
veloped very rapidly in China. For example, applications
for 1086 patents associated with mealworms in China
have been made from 1989 to 2016, according to the data
searched from the State Intellectual Property Office of
the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), and the number
of patent applications concerning mealworms increased
sharply between 2010 and 2015, as numbers jumped from
over 30 to almost 300 applications (Fig. 2). In the technical
field component for patent applications concerning meal-
worms in China, nearly 80% of patent applications were to
section A (human necessities) of the International Patent
Classification (IPC) system. Among these, applications
to A23 (Foods or foodstuffs; their treatment, not covered
C2017 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 0, 1–15
Edible Insects in China 9
by other classes) and A01 (Agriculture; Forestry; Animal
husbandry; Hunting; Trapping; Fishing) reached 51.82%
and 27.65%, respectively, which demonstrates that most
patent applications involving mealworms were concerned
with food and feed.
Food safety of insects and insect allergies
The food safety of insects and possible allergic reactions
associated with eating insects are concerns for both sci-
entists and consumers, because safety is a vital factor
in food quality and is essential to build confidence in
the consumption of edible insects (Zhang & Jiang, 2010;
Kong, 2013).
Food safety is not yet a significant concern at the current
rate of insect consumption. Edible insects are gathered
from their natural habitats, sold in open markets and con-
sumed only occasionally and seasonally. However, with
the introduction of more insects as a part of people’s daily
diet, concerns with the food safety of insects will increase.
Similar to other food sources, the food safety of insects
is affected by collecting, processing, storage and trans-
portation. For food safety, four areas warrant attention:
food toxicology, harmful microorganisms, toxic metal el-
ements and pesticide residues (Zhang, 2009; Zhao, 2009).
Insects fly or creep in some areas and can feed on many
different organic substances, including straw biomass, or-
ganic waste, animal bodies, plants and other insects. Both
on the surface and internally as a natural property, in-
sect bodies carry microbes and contain pesticides or other
toxic substances. Currently, the information on food safety
of edible insects is limited in China and other countries.
The safety of insects concerning microbial contamination
has been studied in some countries. When insect bod-
ies for consumption are properly processed and stored,
insects are generally safe to consume (van Huis et al.,
2013). In an analysis for chemical safety, the concentra-
tions of chemical contaminants in four fly larvae used as
animal feed were belowthe recommended maximum con-
centrations suggested by the European Commission, the
World Health Organization and Codex. However, a high
level of the toxic heavy metal cadmium was found in three
of the housefly samples analyzed (Charlton et al., 2015).
In China, regulations and laws address these four aspects
of food safety (Wang, 2010) and provide methods for eval-
uation and determination of indexes of food safety. Food
toxicology evaluations are time-consuming and require
resources, and as of 2014, only 12 species of insects and
two types of insect product had been evaluated according
to the Procedures for Toxicological Assessment of Food in
China, according to published references. The species of
insect are B. mori L., A. pernyi Gu´
eneville (Zhou
& Han, 2006), Dendrolimus punctatus (Walker) (Liu &
Wei, 2008), Ericerus pela Chavannes (Feng et al., 2001),
T. molitor L. (Chen & Wang, 1997), Massicus raddei
Blessig (Li et al., 2011), Polyrhachis dives Smith (Wang
et al., 2007), Formica sanguinea Lat., Musca domestica
L. (Li et al., 2010, 2011), P. americana (L.) (Zhou et al.,
2007), Macrotermes barneyi Ligh and Odontotermes for-
mosanus (Shiraki) (Zhang, 1999). Honey products and
insect teas were also evaluated. Based on this limited data
set, insects and products made from insects have tested
safe as food or feed (Feng et al., 2016). Although insects
are generally safe to consume, further researches are re-
quired to evaluate relative factors such as different species
of insects and those fed on different feeds and reared in
different conditions.
With contact, inhalation or oral consumption, insects
can be a source of allergens for some sensitive people
(Belluco et al., 2013; Pener, 2014; Srinroch et al., 2015).
Twelve orders of insects are associated with human aller-
gies (Dan, 2002). Insects are a source of inhaled allergies
and can cause asthma and coryza (Sun et al., 1998), and
some workers and farmers on rearing farms suffer from
these inhalation allergies. Allergies caused by insect bites
and toxins are reported every year in China, particularly
during summer and autumn. Allergies caused by eating
silkworm pupae, cicadas, crickets, wasps, grasshoppers
and stinkbugs are also reported in China. The allergic re-
actions include skin itch, urticaria, dizziness and shock. In
a review of case reports of allergies caused by food con-
sumption in China from 1980 to 2007, insects were the
fourth most common allergenic offenders after pineapple,
soft-shelled turtle and crab. The insects that have caused
anaphylactic shock are locusts (27 cases), grasshoppers
(27 cases), silkworm pupae (five cases), a cicada (one
case), a bee pupa (one case), a bee larva (one case) and
Clanis bilineata tsingtauica Mell (one case). No deaths
caused by insects were reported (Ji et al., 2009). Sim-
ilar to other protein-rich foods, such as milk, seafood
and peanuts, insects can induce allergic reactions in some
people. However, compared with the allergic reactions in-
duced by other common protein-rich foods such as fish
and seafood, insects do not cause more serious allergic
reactions, although the reactions remain a concern and
require further research.
Insect farming
Currently, approximately 92% of edible insects are har-
vested and gathered from the wild worldwide (Yen,
2015a). Even in Asian and Pacific regions in which
C2017 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 0, 1–15
10 Y. Feng et al.
entomophagy is highly accepted among inhabitants, only
a few species of edible insects have been reared for food,
such as locusts and the palm weevil in Thailand (Han-
boonsong et al., 2013; Durst & Hanboonsong, 2015). Al-
though gathering pests for food in forests can reduce pest
populations to some extent, the quantity harvested is lim-
ited and varies over time and by season. The quality and
food safety of insects harvested from the wild are also
not guaranteed. Moreover, the overharvest of insects from
the wild may threaten the natural biodiversity, with some
species facing the possibility of extinction (Yen, 2015b).
Therefore, farming insects for food and feed, similar to
that for other conventional livestock, is essential to en-
sure that insects are a stable part of the human diet. A
few insect species have been domesticated for human use
because of their commercial value, with silkworms and
honeybees the best-known examples. White wax scale and
Chinese gallnut aphids in China and Lac scale in China
and southeastern Asia have also been farmed (Chen &
Feng, 2009). The farming of these insects has provided
good experience, and this type of farming has become
one type of special breeding industry in rural areas and a
source of income for local people.
The farming of insects has several advantages. To pro-
duce the identical amount of protein, insects require less
feed, water and living space than other farmed animals. In-
sects also emit less greenhouse gases and cause less envi-
ronmental problems than conventional livestock (Dennis
et al., 2010). Because insects typically grow rapidly and
can reproduce many generations in a year, humans can ob-
tain a large biomass for food in a short time (Premalatha
et al., 2011). A challenge to insect farming is that not
every type of insect can be raised completely in artificial
conditions. Two primary approaches are used to rear and
breed insects for human food and medicine and animal
feed in China. In one approach, insects are fully domesti-
cated and reared completely in captivity, which includes
mealworms, cockroaches, and some beetles. In the other
approach, insects are only partially raised in captivity or
the habitat of the insect is manipulated to increase produc-
tion, which includes locusts, wasps, bamboo caterpillars,
and dragonflies. Mealworms, initially brought to China
from other countries as bird feed, are reared successfully
in many regions of China, and dry mealworms have been
exported to Europe and other places worldwide as feed for
pets and birds, according to newspaper reports. In 2013,
29 batches of mealworms weighing 176 400 kg that were
worth 1.06 million US dollars were exported from Baod-
ing, Hebei. The export weight and value increased by
383.3% and 409.6%, respectively (Anonymous, 2014).
Additionally, 554 000 kg of dried mealworms worth
3.319 million US dollars were exported from Weihai City,
Shandong, in the first three-quarters of 2013. The ex-
port weight and value increased by 140.1% and 130.6%,
respectively (Anonymous, 2013). From the port of Wei-
hai from January to October of 2014, 702 600 kg of dry
mealworms worth 4.992 million US dollars were exported
(Li, 2014), and from January to November of 2014 from
Nanyang, 553 000 kg of dry mealworms worth 3.75 mil-
lion US dollars were exported (Meng, 2014). Cockroaches
P. americana (L.), the raw material of some medicines
produced in China, are also successfully domesticated
and are reared artificially to meet the production require-
ments of medical companies for medicines (Mao et al.,
2002; Zhang & Wu, 2006). The rearing facilities and con-
ditions for mealworms and cockroaches have been the
focus of intense research, and these insects can be reared
at the scale of home or factory with large yields. Ac-
cording to a newspaper report, one cockroach farm in
Shandong produced 20 000 kg of dry cockroaches an-
nually (Lu, 2015). Some other medicinal insects are also
domesticated and reared in China, but the scale of rearing
is usually small (Xiang, 2009). When fed on fresh plants
supplied regularly, L. migratoria manilensis (Meyen) can
be reared in a plastic greenhouse, and the food plants for
the locusts can be grown outside the greenhouse for easy
harvest. Wasps, bamboo caterpillars and dragonflies are
not currently fully domesticated; however, some means
and techniques have been attempted to increase biomass
production of these insects for human consumption (Guo,
2009, 2012; Guo & Huang, 2013; Guo et al., 2013). For
example, locals protect overwintering wasps, build nests
for some wasps, and maintain wasp combs to harvest
wasps in late summer and autumn. Additionally, when
gathering edible insects, locals typically leave some indi-
viduals and parts of colonies for future reproduction. Peo-
ple also try to build semi-artificial habitats and then sup-
ply feed for those insects that they want to collect. As we
learn more about the biological characters of these insects,
more advanced methods to raise these edible insects can be
Many interactions occur among insects, humans and
their environments. Insects play vital roles in healthy,
functioning environments, because in ecosystems, insects
are decomposers of organic matter, pollinators, preda-
tors and prey. Insects are food for other animals but are
also important natural enemies of agricultural and for-
est plant pests. Some insects are detrimental to human
welfare as vectors of disease and as pests of crops and
forest trees (Gullan & Cranston, 2005). The farming of
edible insects may affect humans and the environment,
particularly when insect populations increase rapidly in
a specific space and in a short time. For example, wasps
sting humans, and locusts and grasshoppers are pests that
C2017 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 0, 1–15
Edible Insects in China 11
damage crops. Some insects emit greenhouse gases and
other gases that cause people discomfort. Therefore, we
must evaluate the potential effects of farming insects on
public health, forestry, agriculture and the environment in
general. We divided the candidate insects for farming into
three types. The strict-control type includes those insects
with strong flying or migrating ability, pests that harm
crops and forests, and those that mechanically spread hu-
man disease microbes. The farming of this type of in-
sect requires strict management. The second type is the
general-control insect, which has no strong flying or mi-
grating ability and is not a serious or harmful pest. The
third type includes harmless insects that are not plant
pests or a danger to health. Safety control regulations for
these three types of insect must be established based on
their impact on humans and the environment. Apart from
the concerns discussed above, several other aspects of the
farming of insects should also be considered. Insect farms
or factories should be built away from human living dis-
tricts. The facilities for protection must be built according
to insect characteristics and the relationships among in-
sects and humans, crops and forests. Excreta of reared
insects also require management to reduce pollution of
the environment. For example, in China, the excreta of
mealworms are used as feed for freshwater fish or as fer-
tilizer (Gao, 2012). The feed selected for insects should
be low-priced material, such as agricultural residues and
organic wastes.
Conclusions and recommendations
Insects are a source of food for humans and a poten-
tial resource to assure global food security. China has a
long history of consuming insects, and the culture of eat-
ing insects is well maintained in many parts of China by
different ethnic groups. Many species of insects are con-
sumed often in different regions of China, and the level
of acceptance for the consumption of insects is high in
China in general. The renewed interest in consuming in-
sects has promoted an increase in the willingness to now
consume edible insects. Although edible insects are not
presently a primary food source, a great deal of research
on edible insects has been conducted in recent years. The
scope of study includes the culture of entomophagy and
the identification, nutritive value, farming and breeding
of edible insects, in addition to food safety and process-
ing. Several species of insects, such as mealworms, lo-
custs and grasshoppers, are farmed for food and feed. For
some well-known edible insects, including wasps, bam-
boo caterpillars and dragonflies, semi-domestication has
been attempted. Some food and healthfood products are
made from processed insects. All of these factors provide
good conditions for the development and use of edible in-
sects in China. Therefore, edible insects are predicted to
gradually become a supplementary source of human food
and animal feed and to have a certain role in assuring food
and feed security.
The social and scientific communities must work to-
gether to promote the use of insects as food and feed.
For social concerns, policies and regulations must be es-
tablished to ensure that the development and use of food
and feed from insects does not affect human health, harm
agriculture and forest plants, or pollute the environment.
To inform the public and increase consumption, public-
ity and education must provide accurate information on
edible insects. Rather than regarding insects as a nui-
sance or a food source for the poor and unsophisticated,
the attitudes of people toward insects must change, and
we must see insects as a healthy, nutritious and environ-
mentally friendly food source for all people worldwide.
Four primary areas of scientific research on edible in-
sects require further investigation. First, research on the
basic biology of edible insects will build a strong theoret-
ical background for the transfer of information to other
areas of research. More than 300 species of insects are
recorded for human consumption in China, and among
them, some species are not suitable as a food source but
are used as medicinal insects. Moreover, some types of
insects that are consumed by local people have not been
studied and scientifically identified, and after research
and evaluation, suitable species for food and feed could
be selected. Understanding the basic biological charac-
teristics will benefit the farming and domestication of
edible insects. Second, the health value and food safety
of insects require further evaluation. Currently, the infor-
mation available on the health value of insects primarily
include a listing of protein, amino acids, fat and fatty acid
contents, and comparisons of nutritive content between
insects and other conventional animal foods. The data on
digestibility of insects in humans continue to be lacking.
Additionally, the food safety of insects has not been inten-
sively researched. With accurate information on the food
safety of edible insects, mass production and consumption
of insect products are possible. Third, the development of
more effective large-scale farming methods for different
insects is required, because advanced methods are nec-
essary to satisfy the quantity and quality requirements
for the processing and use of edible insects. Fourth, the
technology for the processing of insect foods requires in-
novation to produce more high-quality processed products
that are easily accepted by humans. Progress in address-
ing the social and scientific concerns will accelerate the
effective use and industrialization of edible insects.
C2017 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 0, 1–15
12 Y. Feng et al.
This work has been supported by the Fundamental Re-
search Funds for the Central Public Research Institutions
of the Research Institute of Resource Insects, Chinese
Academy of Forestry (No. riricaf2014002Z).
All authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... В Азиатско-Тихоокеанском регионе, например в Китае, съедобных насекомых выращивают как для еды, так и для приготовления лекарственных средств и корма для животных [11,26]. При этом часть насекомых полностью проходит доместикацию [26]. ...
... В Азиатско-Тихоокеанском регионе, например в Китае, съедобных насекомых выращивают как для еды, так и для приготовления лекарственных средств и корма для животных [11,26]. При этом часть насекомых полностью проходит доместикацию [26]. В соответствии с данными R. Köhler, в Таиланде официально выделяют три группы людей, употребляющих в пищу насекомых [27]: ...
... Согласно последним статистическим данным, объём рынка съедобных насекомых только в Азиатско-Тихоокеанском регионе в ближайшие годы может достичь 470 млн долларов США [26,39]. Прогнозируют, что рынки Европы и Латинской Америки за 5 лет покажут почти 3-кратный рост (со 170 до 500 млн долларов США), в Северной Америке вырастет более чем в 3 раза, где показатель составит более $150 млн. ...
With the projected growth of the world population, an increase in food production on a sustainable commercial scale, the search for alternative sources of protein and a shift to new eating strategies are needed. The article provides an overview of the existing relevant scientific information based on the analysis of publications in international (PubMed, MedLine, Google Scholar) and domestic (RSCI) electronic databases. The review considers the phenomenon of entomophagy as a potential solution to the problem of food shortage in the world, its biomedical, ecological, sociocultural, evolutionary and economic features. The species of the most commonly used edible insects and the countries in which insect biomass products have become traditional in the diet of the population are described. The nutritional value and consumer attitude to such products are highlighted. Insect biomass products are characterized by a high content of proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and are superior in calories to traditional sources of animal and vegetable protein. In this regard, entomophagy has a preventive potential in the preparation of a diet and treatment for metabolic disorders, osteoporosis and other nosologies. The article notes gender differences in relation to adherence to entomophagy in Russia. Despite the revealed values of entomophagy, the issue of food safety for humans remains unresolved. Among the main concerns are the development of possible allergic reactions, the content of pathogenic microorganisms and harmful substances in the composition of food from insect biomass. The review presents the prospects for increasing the share of consumption of insect products and the economic benefits that the globalization of entomophagy will entail.
... Insects can be raised and farmed for both human and animal food by using two methods: first is insects can be completely domesticated and raised in confinement, and the second is incompletely raised in confinement, changing the insect habitation to upsurge production but, usually, devoid of isolating them from their wild communities. So, different methods of farming can be applied (Feng et al., 2018). Cockroaches and mealworms are perfect contestants to farming both at domestic and industrial level because of their nurturing situations has been widely studied. ...
... Cockroaches and mealworms are perfect contestants to farming both at domestic and industrial level because of their nurturing situations has been widely studied. Some insects can be raised in plastic greenhouses and some insects can be nurtured in semi-natural environment by giving proper care to their feeding (Feng et al., 2018). Some insects including locusts, bamboo caterpillars, wasps, dragon flies, and palm weevil larvae fit in the second type known as semidomestication. ...
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As the global population continues to grow, traditional protein sources like meat and fish are becoming increasingly unsustainable due to their environmental impact. Edible insects, on the other hand, are highly nutritious, require minimal resources to produce, and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases than traditional livestock. Lepidoptera, one of the most diverse insect orders, contains some popular edible species that have been consumed traditionally for centuries across the globe. Based on this review, about 24 families with a total of about 350 edible lepidopteran species were recorded. They are often praised for their excellent nutritional value, such as having high protein and healthy fat content. Edible lepidopterans also contain minerals, essential amino acids, and vitamins, making them a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. They also contain bioactive compounds which have various nutraceutical and pharmaceutical properties. Furthermore, some edible lepidopterans can be farmed and require minimal space and resources. However, there are significant challenges associated with their use as food. One of the primary challenges is the lack of regulations governing their production and distribution, which creates uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike. Consumer acceptance is also a significant barrier to the widespread adoption of insects as food. To overcome these challenges, there is a need for clear regulations that ensure the safety and quality of insect-based products. Furthermore, it is important to raise awareness about the nutritional and environmental benefits of edible insects as sustainable food for the future to promote their acceptance among consumers.
... According to Abdullahi et al. (2021), the importance of lipids and their constituents present in edible insects have not been fully explored despite their high global recognition as functional food and feed, thus, limiting their global demand and acceptability by consumers. Moreover, there is less information documented about the availability and significant contribution essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acids found in edible insects (Dobermann et al., 2017;Feng et al., 2018). Hence, this review aims to assess and evaluate the significant role of essential fatty acids present in edible insects to promote global consumption, acceptability and rearing of edible insects as a source of edible oils. ...
... The consumption of insects by farm animals have an indirect effect on human health via the food chain (Nyangena et al., 2020). Hence, previous studies reported that edible insects contains large proportion of UFAs sufficient enough to meet the essential fatty acids requirements for both humans and animals (Seni, 2017;Tao and Li, 2018;Feng et al., 2018;Kim et al., 2019). The inclusion of insect meal in livestock diets could aid in improving the quality of poultry meat by elevating the concentration of essential fatty acid in the meat (Selaledi et al., 2020). ...
... Afterwards, the imago of Sphingidae, true water beetle, larvae of Tenebrionidae and Cerambycidae were included during the Qin Dynasty (Zhi-Yi, 1997). This, however, suggests that the practice of eating insects in China has a long history of over 3,000 years ago (Feng et al., 2018). The ancient Chinese consumed insects for various purposes, mainly as food and medicine, and these insects were eaten raw or parched or cooked or made into marmalade and sauce (Zhi-Yi, 1997). ...
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In Africa, food insecurity seems to be a continual problem as a result of various factors such as extreme poverty, water scarcity, land degradation, and climate change. As a result, chronic hunger and malnutrition are still prevalent in many African countries. Consequently, the utilization of available and affordable natural food sources is needed to accommodate the energy and nutritional requirements of the people, such as edible insects. Edible insects are abundant and locally available throughout Africa, hence could be utilized as low-cost, nutritious, and sustainable foods. Around 500 species have been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa out of the 2,100 known edible insect species worldwide. The consumption of insects, also known as entomophagy, has been historically practiced by indigenous people of Africa. To date, edible insects are seen in Africa as a good opportunity, particularly for rural households, to improve their livelihoods at an economic and nutritional level. Edible insects are a great source of energy and nutrients-and their rearing only requires a small amount of water, land and feeding resources. Entomophagy may also serve as an ecologically sound control measure for insect pests, such as locusts, that periodically wreak havoc on agricultural fields. The combination of being a highly nutritious food source and having economic advantages made edible insects very attractive in all the African regions. Their promotions into the diet would ameliorate the well-being of the population and boost economic growth in Africa. However, African countries need local and regional legal frameworks to achieve smooth functioning of marketing of edible insects and their products.
... One of the studied insects for this purpose is the mealworm larvae (Tenebrio molitor larvae), which can be highlighted for its ease of cultivation, thus facilitating the sustainable production of animal protein. It also has antifungal activity and contains antibacterial peptides that can increase feed shelf life (Feng et al., 2018), As well as high protein content 47% to 60% crude protein (Lima et al., 2021). ...
Full-text available
The objective of the present study was to evaluate different inclusion levels of mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) larvae meal in the diet of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Two hundred male Tilapia juveniles were distributed in a completely randomized design (CRD) with five treatments (0%, 6.5%, 13%, 19.5% and 26% mealworm larvae meal) and four repetitions (polyethylene tanks), with 10 animals each. Productive performance, blood, histological and molecular parameters and viscerosomatic and hepatosomatic indices were evaluated. Among the evaluated parameters, final biomass, biomass gain, final weight, weight gain and apparent feed consumption were influenced by the inclusion of mealworm larvae meal in the feeds; the best results were obtained with an inclusion level of 26%. The tilapia fed with mealworm larvae meal showed higher body and fillet weights and larger muscle fibres. In addition, they presented similar values of biochemical components compared to animals fed the standard diet. Lipogenic genes were significantly higher expressed in groups fed mealworm larvae meal. In view of the findings, the inclusion of mealworm larvae meal in the diet of Nile tilapia is a viable approach, and inclusion levels of up to 26% of replacement of digestible protein have no negative impacts on the analysed parameters. Keywords digestibility-entomophagy-insect meal-insect protein-lipogenic genes 1 Introduction Brazil is currently the fourth largest producer of tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in the world, generating more than 758,000 tons per year (Anuário Peixe Br Da Pisci-cultura, 2020). In the current model of fish farming, soybean , wheat or fish meal are used, which are expensive and account for more than 65% of the total production costs (Pascoal et al., 2006).
... And therefore, the insect consumption in Mexico should be treated as unique to its culture and culinary traditions. It would be naïve to cluster as Latin-American insect consumption when studying Mexico, or other countries with high insect consumption such as China, where its consumption dates back more than three thousand years (Feng et al., 2018;Hartmann et al., 2015), or Thailand (Hanboonsong, 2010. While the number of people currently eating insects is difficult to establish globally, in 2013 the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (Van Huis, et al., 2013) estimated a figure of two billion people consuming insects as part of their diets. ...
Full-text available
Consuming insects as a solution to climate change became popular in scientific publications but most of these publications focus on western countries. The objective of this study was to explore attitudes and motivations towards insect consumption in a country where insect consumption is common. A questionnaire was administered to 462 Mexicans in regions where insect consumption is frequent. The questionnaire included three main sections: 1) edible insect representations, 2) attitude and consumption drivers and 3) consumption habits. A majority of respondents declared eating insects (60%). The representation of edible insects of respondents not eating insects was not very different from that of the respondents eating insects, both being organized around the type of edible insects and their nutritional value. A Principal Component Analysis revealed four main attitude dimensions: Eating insect is 1) a habit from the past, 2) a tradition, 3) for snack and special occasions, 4) trendy. Most of noneaters disagreed with the tradition dimension. Insect-eaters’ drivers were mostly nutritional and sensory, liking crispy texture, spiciness, and salty taste of insects. Sustainability, convenience, and affordability were not important drivers. Concerning culinary habits, participants declared to prepare each insect in different ways (taco, complex dishes). To sum up, our results highlight that the fact of seeing eating insects as disgusting and that insects need to be “invisible” to be accepted is culturally acquired among western countries. We suggest that hedonic persuasion strategies based on current practices may be more efficient in promoting entomophagy than nutritional and sustainable messages.
... The mostly consumed insects in Southern Africa are termites and mophane worms (Kelemu et al., 2015), edible stink bugs in Zimbabwe (Kunatsa et al., 2020), palm weevil in Ghana (Parker et al 2020), palm weevil, moth caterpillar, rhinoceros beetle in Nigeria (Idowu et al., 2019), and grasshopper, locusts and crickets are common in Japan and Thailand (Feng et al., 2018). The study found that termites were the most abundant and mainly used as food and feed among the youth. ...
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The utilization of edible insects as food and feed is not a new concept, it is a practice that has been part of the tradition of many communities around the world. They have been primarily used as supplementary food in most African countries. However, there has been a significant decline in the consumption of insects over the years, especially among young people. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the knowledge on entomophagy and the utilization of insects among the youth. The study revealed that the majority of youth had limited knowledge about consumption, nutrition, harvesting, preparation and use of edible insects as livestock feed. From the Chi-square analysis it was observed that age and education level have a significant relationship to the familiarity of consumption of edible insects, P=0.014 and P=0.009 respectively. The results also show that there is a significant association between awareness on the nutritional value of insects with age and education level, P=0.001 and P=0.009 respectively. Logistic regression analysis was used to find the association between demographic characteristics, knowledge and the utilization of edible insects. The results revealed that education level, age and knowledge have an impact on the utilization of edible insects. Lack of knowledge contribute to the unwillingness of youth to consume insects. It is noticeable that indigenous knowledge on entomophagy is slowly disappearing with the shift in eating habits and changes in the socio-economic environments. As such, it is imperative that indigenous knowledge is preserved and educational interventions are done to raise awareness on the benefits of entomophagy in order to improve the utilization of insects among the youth.
... However, the high MC (22%) increases the risk of microbial contamination, deterioration of the larvae, and reduction of shelf life, except after a reduction from processing (Banjo et al., 2006). Feng et al. (2017) reported that, unlike other animal fats, edible insect fats possess higher essential fatty acid content, which is necessary for the human body, and hence edible insect fat has a high nutritional value. The oleic acid value detected in this study was less than 35.05% mentioned by Tang et al. (2019) for R. phoenicis but higher than the oleic acid that can be found in beef (10.52%). ...
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Background: Edible insects are rich in protein, amino acids, fat, vitamins, and trace elements. However, they are the potential carriers of toxicants, allergenic substances, anti-nutrients, and pathogens. The present study aims to determine the proximate and nutritional, fatty acid, metal composition, and microbial load of palm weevil larvae (Rhynchophorus phoenicis Fabricius, (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)), an insect species commonly consumed in Nigeria. Methods: Twenty five R. phoenicis were randomly collected in April, 2021 from different local farms. The insects were exterminated by freezing and thereafter defrosted at room temperature in the laboratory; with the exception of the samples for moisture analysis, they were oven dried to a constant weight at around 65 °C for 24 h, grounded, and analyzed for proximate content, fatty acids, metals, and microbial load following standard laboratory procedures. Results: The results show that R. phoenicis contained 45.60% crude fat, 15.79% crude fiber, and 5.25% crude protein by weight. Linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid made up most of the fatty acid concentrations at 54.13, 23.86, and 14.19%, respectively. Iron (Fe) content was the highest metal (4.923 ppm), followed by manganese (Mn; 2.767 ppm) and zinc (Zn; 1.04 ppm). The isolated microorganisms were mold and yeast (5×10-5 Colony Forming Unit (CFU)/g), Staphylococcus sp. (33×10-5 CFU/g), and Micrococcus/Bacillus substilis sp. (5×10-5 CFU/g). Conclusion: The high nutritional composition present in R. phoenicis evaluated in this study, compared to the dietary protein value obtained from other animal food sources, suggests the need for their adoption as animal protein and essential fatty acid sources in human diets.
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Rampant increase of population, depletion of natural resources, malnutrition and food insecurity, environmental concerns related to animal husbandry etc., made us look into entomophagy which means the consumption of edible insects as food. Entomophagy is an age old tradition which has its roots in ancient human cultures itself. Many research studies have proved that edible insects provide lot of nutritional benefits to the human beings like Proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Edible insect farming is environmentally sustainable and causes less environmental pollution. Despite having economic and environmental benefits, entomophagy is considered as a disgust and neophobia in some western societies and that need to be addressed by further improving research studies.
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Many butterflies and moths are of conservation concern and formally recognised as being at risk. There are nearly 400 species of Lepidoptera used as human food or medicine, and the demand for some species has increased to the extent that they are overexploited. Most are harvested in the wild, and there is a need to develop harvesting and habitat management protocols to ensure sustainability. Detailed scientific information on most species is lacking. Management plans to conserve selected species are necessary, and traditional knowledge is an important and valuable foundation. Some of the better known species could be excellent flagship taxa because they can be a symbol for food security, traditional knowledge and culture, conservation of insect biodiversity, and their habitats.
Dragonflise are common insects distributed widely. Parts of their larvae are edible. The research results showed that there is custom of eating dragonfly larvae in many places of Yunnan. The common edible species are Crocothemis servilia, Gomphus cuneatus and Lestes praemorsa. The larvae contain protein, fat, amino acids and microelements. The average contents of protein, fat and amino acids are 58.92%, 25.37% and 46.03% respectively. The content of 8 kinds amino acids necessary for human body is 16.41% in average, which accounts for 35.69% of the total amount of amino acids. The content of potassium, zinc, calcium and ferrum are 2 960 mg. kg-1, 125.4 mg. kg-1, 2 616.9 mg. kg-1 and 796.2 mg. kg-1. Therefore the dragonfly larva is one of nutritive edible insect resources.
White wax scale (Ericerus pela) is one kind of important resource insects. Considering the nutritive and comprehensive utilization of its eggs, this paper deals with the nutritive value and food safety of white wax scale eggs. The research results showed that there are rich protein, amino acids, mineral elements and vitamins in the eggs. There are 44. 6% protein in eggs and 53. 57% in shells of eggs. The amino acids amounts are 33. 16% and 50. 53% respectively. The total amino acids amounts necessary to human are 12. 38% and 17. 90% respectively. The food safety research showed that the insect eggs are nontoxic and there are not any by-effect of causing mutation and deformity. Therefore white wax scale eggs are nutritious and safety for human to eat.