All these "sales" lately / insects as food

Ernst.Neering at STAFF.TPE.WAU.NL Ernst.Neering at STAFF.TPE.WAU.NL
Wed Apr 29 08:17:29 EDT 1998

On Tuesday, April 28, 1998 at 10:16:38 pm DST,
Doug Yanega <dyanega at> wrote:
>Time for a wee bit of venting, so pardon me. Is it just my imagination, or
>are none of these people selling things here over the last few weeks
>offering any assurances that their material was legally acquired? .....

I am glad you put this remark in the 'subject-space'. When I see these kinds 
of lists of insects offered for sale, I immediately hit the delete button. 
Never in my life I have bought or sold any preserved insects just for adding 
to a collection. I wonder whether anybody who is subscribed to this list to 
exchange information on lepidoptera is interested in the offers of these 

The only legitimate trade in insects I can think off is in hiring out/ 
selling colonies of (bumble)bees and the like for pollinating crops and the 
multitude of insects, especially parasitoids and predators (and other 
organisms such as nematodes, etc.) for biological control. Of course those 
companies / organizations who developed the techniques for mass rearing and 
subsequent quality control are in their full right to charge a fee for their 
efforts. Here it is not the insect body that is of interest to buyers but the 
actions of the live insects in the field / greenhouse.

Some other legitimately sold insects are the silk worms that are domesticated 
to such extend that there is no existant wild population known, lac insects, 
cochenile scale insects and although that is a bit trivial, the insects 
offered for sale as food. I am interested to hear more about that.

Last year there was a remark on this list about the enormous masses of mopane 
caterpillars sold in markets in southern Africa. There was an exchange on the 
identity of the agava caterpillar put in spirit in Mexico but I know there 
are many other species of insect eaten by humans. Some years ago there was a 
special symposium on mini-livestock in Bejing, almost exclusively dedicated 
to insects as food. In the Netherlands there now is one restaurant that 
offers locusts and Tenebrio molitor larvae on the menu. Maybe this is just 

I had a try of teak caterpillars, palmweevil larvae, termites, locusts, 
Tenebrio and honeyants over the years and it is good food! Especially in 
areas where the diet is poor in fat (yes indeed, there are such areas in the 
world) insects are a wellcome addition to the diet. In the Ituri forest 
(Congo) the indigenous population in some months relies completely on insects 
for their protein and fat supply. Similar observations are known from 
original populations in Australia, Papua New Guinea / Irian Jaya and more in 
general in rainforest areas around the world.

Can anybody help me with slides showing cans containing insects which are 
considered a delicacy? I know there is (or was) export from Thailand, Mexico 
and Japan into USA and other areas where people from these countries migrated 
to. The pictures I have seen were taken from illustrations in old books but I 
never actually saw cans in the market.

Thanks Doug, I appreciate your and other subscribers efforts to watch over 
the quality of this list and your 'anti-spam' efforts! You are absolutely 
right to question the legality of these offers of insects for sale.

Kind regards,

Ernst Neering

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