What type of insect is this?

What type of insect is this?

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I'm naturally thinking this is a bee, but I cannot find it anywhere in any insect identifiers. I caught this picture on top of my doorway, it's about 1 1/2 inches in length, and its torso seems to be coated in a layer of hair, and the rest of its body is narrow. The thick layer of hair may or may not be accurate, I didn't want to get too close to it, but that's how it appeared at least.

What is this?

PS - Found in Kentucky, and I'm not sure why one pic shows wings and the other one doesn't…

From the general body plan, it looks like it's probably a robber fly. Here's a page of specifically Kentucky robber flies - it's possible yours could be a Bearded Robber Fly.

Yes, I would say that is a bearded robber fly. Robber flies are similar to dragonflies in that they catch prey by catching it in midair. They will attack mostly bees, wasps, and hornets, and I have seen many catching bumblebees in the wild. I have even seen some sit near a yellow jacket nest and catch a hornet when it comes out. They suck out the juices of their prey with a proboscis using methods similar to spiders. They will also bite when handled, as I have found out through experience.

It is commonly called as "Robber fly" or "assassin fly". Scientifically it is "Asilidae" of the order "Diptera" and it is a fast attacking predator mostly preying on grasshopper nymphs and damsel flies. It is strongly built for kill.


Mycorrhizae literally translates to “fungus-root.” Mycorrhiza defines a (generally) mutually beneficial relationship between the root of a plant and a fungus that colonizes the plant root. In many plants, mycorrhiza are fungi that grow inside the plant’s roots, or on the surfaces of the roots. The plant and the fungus have a mutually beneficial relationship, where the fungus facilitates water and nutrient uptake in the plant, and the plant provides food and nutrients created by photosynthesis to the fungus. This exchange is a significant factor in nutrient cycles and the ecology, evolution, and physiology of plants.

In some cases, the relationship is not mutually beneficial. Sometimes, the fungus is mildly harmful to the plant, and at other times, the plant feeds from the fungus.

Not all plants will have mycorrhizal associations. In environments in which water and nutrients are abundant in the soil, plants do not require the assistance of mycorrhizal fungi, nor might mycorrhizal fungi germinate and grow in such environments.

Insects as vectors: systematics and biology

Among the many complex relationships between insects and microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, some have resulted in the establishment of biological systems within which the insects act as a biological vector for infectious agents. It is therefore advisable to understand the identity and biology of these vectors in depth, in order to define procedures for epidemiological surveillance and anti-vector control. The following are successively reviewed in this article: Anoplura (lice), Siphonaptera (fleas), Heteroptera (bugs: Cimicidae, Triatoma, Belostomatidae), Psychodidae (sandflies), Simuliidae (black flies), Ceratopogonidae (biting midges), Culicidae (mosquitoes), Tabanidae (horseflies) and Muscidae (tsetse flies, stable flies and pupipara). The authors provide a rapid overview of the morphology, systematics, development cycle and bio-ecology of each of these groups of vectors. Finally, their medical and veterinary importance is briefly reviewed.

Molecular biology of insect sodium channels and pyrethroid resistance

Voltage-gated sodium channels are essential for the initiation and propagation of the action potential in neurons and other excitable cells. Because of their critical roles in electrical signaling, sodium channels are targets of a variety of naturally occurring and synthetic neurotoxins, including several classes of insecticides. This review is intended to provide an update on the molecular biology of insect sodium channels and the molecular mechanism of pyrethroid resistance. Although mammalian and insect sodium channels share fundamental topological and functional properties, most insect species carry only one sodium channel gene, compared to multiple sodium channel genes found in each mammalian species. Recent studies showed that two posttranscriptional mechanisms, alternative splicing and RNA editing, are involved in generating functional diversity of sodium channels in insects. More than 50 sodium channel mutations have been identified to be responsible for or associated with knockdown resistance (kdr) to pyrethroids in various arthropod pests and disease vectors. Elucidation of molecular mechanism of kdr led to the identification of dual receptor sites of pyrethroids on insect sodium channels. Many of the kdr mutations appear to be located within or close to the two receptor sites. The accumulating knowledge of insect sodium channels and their interactions with insecticides provides a foundation for understanding the neurophysiology of sodium channels in vivo and the development of new and safer insecticides for effective control of arthropod pests and human disease vectors.

Keywords: Alternative splicing Knockdown resistance Pyrethroid receptor sites Pyrethroids RNA editing Sodium channel.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Voltage-gated sodium channels and the…

Voltage-gated sodium channels and the action potential. (A) Recording of an action potential.…

Voltage-gated sodium channels and the…

Voltage-gated sodium channels and the action potential. (A) Recording of an action potential.…

Structure of the voltage-gated sodium…

Structure of the voltage-gated sodium channel. (A) The topology of the sodium channel…

Structure of the voltage-gated sodium…

Structure of the voltage-gated sodium channel. (A) The topology of the sodium channel…

Functional characterization of insect sodium…

Functional characterization of insect sodium channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes using the voltage-clamp…

Functional characterization of insect sodium…

Functional characterization of insect sodium channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes using the voltage-clamp…

Alternative splicing of DmNa v…

Alternative splicing of DmNa v transcripts. Optional exons are illustrated in blue blocks…

Mutations in sodium channels associated…

Mutations in sodium channels associated with pyrethroid resistance in arthropod species. (A) Mutations…

Mutations in sodium channels associated…

Mutations in sodium channels associated with pyrethroid resistance in arthropod species. (A) Mutations…

Modeling the pyrethroid receptor sites…

Modeling the pyrethroid receptor sites in the AaNa v 1-1 channel. (A and…

Pyrethroid-sensing residues in Site 1…

Pyrethroid-sensing residues in Site 1 or Site 2 of an insect sodium channel.…

A K v 1.2-based model of the open AaNa v 1–1 channel with…

Why are only some insects called “true bugs?”

Biologists who name animals and plants are called taxonomists, and they are very particular about who gets named what. Entomologists, the people who study insects, use taxonomy to keep the huge number of insects categorized. When they say “bug”, it means something very specific!

True bugs are listed within the order called Hemiptera. Insects in this order are different from other insect orders, such as Hymenoptera (ants and bees), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), or Diptera (flies and mosquitoes). If you look at the diagram below you can see that at the “class” category, arachnids and insects are separated into two different groups and as you go to the next category which is the “order”, true bugs are now separated into their own group which is different than the other insects. Bugs are placed into different groups because they have characteristics that make them look different from one another.

Chart showing taxonomy of insects and where they fit in the kingdom Animalia. Of the total number of insect orders only one, Hemiptera, contains all the "true bugs". Note that the total number of insect orders continues to be updated and debated by entomologists. It is not uncommon to see the total number of insect orders range from 24-32.

Insect respiration

Insects also differ from other Arthropods in their method of respiration. Air is taken into the body via small openings in their exoskeleton called spiracles and is transported around the body through a network of tubes called trachea. Oxygen is equalised through the body by a network of trachea and is delivered directly to the muscle tissue of the insect.

Interesting facts

  • Insects are human’s greatest competitors for food
  • Malaria carrying mosquitoes kill more humans each year than anything else
  • Some insect have sections of their bodies that are folded and not covered by an exoskeleton, this allows their body to expand when they eat large meals

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Life Cycle

Three general lifecycles occur in insects, but some insects (e.g. aphids, blister beetles, telephone-pole beetles, etc.) may have additional steps or variations. Most insects have direct internal fertilization, like mammals. This means they do not need to return to water to mate, nor do they need to worry with spermatophores like the arachnids. Most insects lay eggs, although some retain the egg inside the body until it hatches and then give "birth". Immature insect growth occurs through shedding of the skin called molting. Immature phases between molting are called instars and the growth sequence is denoted first instar, second instar, etc. Most insects grow through a specific number of instars between hatching from an egg and becoming an adult, but some insects have an indeterminate number of instars that depend on environmental temperature and food availability. In some cases appendages that were lost can be re-grown in immatures. Once an insect molts to adulthood it cannot molt again (except in some cases, such as silverfish). Adults mate (or not, many insects are parthenogenic), lay eggs (or not) and the cycle starts again.

Population Size, Density, and Distribution

Communities are made up of populations of different species. In biology, a population is a group of organisms of the same species that live in the same area. The population is the unit of natural selection and evolution. How large a population is and how fast it is growing are often used as measures of its health.

Population Size

Population size is the number of individuals in a population. For example, a population ofinsects might consist of 100 individual insects, or many more. Population size influences the chances of a species surviving or going extinct. Generally, very small populations are at greatest risk of extinction. However, the size of a population may be less important than its density.

Population Density

Population density is the average number of individuals in a population per unit of area or volume. For example, a population of 100 insects that live in an area of 100 square meters has a density of 1 insect per square meter. If the same population lives in an area of only 1 square meter, what is its density? Which population is more crowded? How might crowding affect the health of a population?

Population Distribution

Population density just represents the average number of individuals per unit of area or volume. Often, individuals in a population are not spread out evenly. Instead, they may live in clumps or some other pattern (see Figure below). The pattern may reflect characteristics of the species or its environment. Population distribution describes how the individuals are distributed, or spread throughout their habitat.

Patterns of Population Distribution. What factors influence the pattern of a population over space?


Collection of insects and arthropods may be general or targeted, casual or formal, qualitative or quantitative. Typically collections are made to answer specific questions (what is here, does the number of species X change in relation to the number of species Y, how many of species Z are on 10 plants?). Collecting tools and techniques will differ based on which category or combination of categories a desired observation falls under. Some techniques used to collect specimens may not be appropriate for specific questions (e.g., qualitative collection will not allow a comparison of the density of species X among three fields).

1a. General Collection: no specific species or group of insect or arthropod is targeted. All specimens are of equal interest. Typically general collections are used to survey a particular habitat or location, for example, the community of insects living in roadside grasses next to a corn field.

1b. Targeted Collection: a specific species or group of insects or arthropods is targeted. Only certain specimens (e.g., corn rootworm) or a group (insects attracted to yellow sticky traps in an apple orchard one week before bloom) are of interest.

2a. Casual Collection: no specific intent to obtain specimens. Typically the insect or arthropod is encountered serendipitously and is collected to determine its identity or document its presence.

2b. Formal Collection: collection of specimens is intentional and often based on a specific protocol.

3a. Qualitative Collection: no attempt is made to quantify collecting effort, sample size, catch, etc. Typically only the presence or absence of a particular species or group is of interest. Collection events (samples) are not equivalent and cannot be compared beyond presence/absence of a particular taxon.

3b. Quantitative Collection: one or many of the aspects of the collecting is held constant, such as area, time, effort, etc. Collection events (samples) can be compared among one another.

Several publications offer detailed collection and preservation information:

Title Citation Comments Availability
1 Collecting and Preserving Insects and Mites: Tools and Techniques Schauff, M. E. (Ed.). 2001. Collecting and preserving insects and mites: techniques and tools. Update and modified WWW version of: G. C. Steyskal, W. L. Murphy, and E. H. Hoover (eds.). 1986. Insects and mites: techniques for collection and preservation. Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Miscellaneous Publication 1443: 1-103. Excellent resource for nearly all types of collection and preservation. Available online: – PDF at [2]
2 Collecting, Preparing, and Preserving Insects, Mites, and Spiders Martin, J. E. H. 1977. Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Part 1. The insects and arachnids of Canada. Canadian Department of Agriculture publication 1643. 182 pp. Excellent resource for nearly all types of collection and preservation. Available online: - PDF at [3]
3 A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico Borror, D. J. and R. E. White. 1998. A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico. 2nd edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York. 416 pp. [apparently a reprint of the 1970 version, but still very good] Excellent resource for general collection and preservation. The best value of the printed resources. Book available new and used
4 Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects Triplehorn, C. A., and N. F. Johnson (eds). 2005. Borror and Delong’s introduction to the study of insects. 7th Edition. Brooks/Cole Publishing, Kentucky, U.S.A. 868 pp. Good general resource for collection and preservation. Book available new and used
5 An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America Merritt, R. W., M. B. Berg, and K. W. Cummins. 2008. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America. Kendall Hunt Publishing Dubuque, IA. 1214 pp. Excellent resource for nearly all types of collection concerning aquatic insects. Preview of the 3rd edition available at Google Books: [4], 4th edition book available new and used
6 How to Know the Immature Insects Chu, H. F. 1949. How to know the immature insects: an illustrated key for identifying the orders and families of many of the immature insects with suggestions for collecting, rearing and studying them. Pictured Key Nature Series. WM. C. Brown Company, Dubuque, IA. 234 pp. Excellent resource for working with immature insects. Out of print, but inexpensive used copies are abundant. Book available used
7 Soil Biology Guide Dindal, D. L. (ed). 1990. Soil Biology Guide. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 1349 pp. Excellent resource, especially for non-insect or spider arthropods. Book available new (on-demand reprint) and used
8 A Manual of Entomological Techniques Peterson, A. 1953. A Manual of Entomological Techniques. 7th edition. Edwards Brothers, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI. 376 pp. Excellent resource for nearly all types of collection. Out of print, may be difficult to find. Book sometimes available used

Controlling other cockroaches outdoors

American, oriental, and smokybrown cockroaches are usually found outdoors and in nonfood areas of homes and commercial buildings. They become pests when they enter a home or business. If you are unsure where cockroaches are getting in, use sticky card monitors.

Outdoors, look for dark, moist areas close to decaying organic food sources. Cockroaches can live in compost piles, ground cover plants, hollow trees, mulch, old stumps, palm fronds, woodpiles, sewer manholes, and underground water meters.

American and oriental cockroaches use floor drains as common points of entry into buildings. To minimize this risk, keep P-traps filled with water to create a barrier between the sewer and the home or business.

Check the threshold seals under doors and ensure that roof soffits are screened to keep cockroaches outdoors.


Entomophagy is widespread among many animals, including nonhuman primates. [1] Animals that feed primarily on insects are called insectivore.

Insects, [2] nematodes [3] and fungi [4] 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 ]

The scientific term describing the practice of eating insects by humans is anthropo-entomophagy. [5] The eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults of certain insects have been eaten by humans from prehistoric times to the present day. [6] Around 3,000 ethnic groups practice entomophagy. [7] 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. [8] [9] 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. [10]

In some societies, primarily western nations, entomophagy is uncommon or taboo. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] 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. [17]

Insects eaten around the world include crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, various beetle grubs (such as mealworms, the larvae of the darkling beetle), [18] and various species of caterpillar (such as bamboo worms, mopani worms, silkworms and waxworms).

Terminology and distinction Edit

Entomophagy is sometimes defined falsely also to cover the eating of arthropods other than insects such as arachnids and myriapods, although the correct existing scientific term is arachnophagy.

Eating insects in human cultures Edit

History Edit

Before humans had tools to hunt or farm, insects may have represented an important part of their diet. Evidence has been found analyzing coprolites from caves in the US and Mexico. Coprolites in caves in the Ozark Mountains were found to contain ants, beetle larvae, lice, ticks, and mites. [20] Evidence suggests that evolutionary precursors of Homo sapiens were also entomophagous. Insectivory also features to various degrees amongst extant primates, such as marmosets and tamarins, [21] and some researchers suggest that the earliest primates were nocturnal, arboreal insectivores. [12] Similarly, most extant apes are insectivorous to some degree. [22] [23] [24]

Cave paintings in Altamira, north Spain, which have been dated from about 30,000 to 9,000 BC, depict the collection of edible insects and wild bee nests, suggesting a possibly entomophagous society. [20] Cocoons of wild silkworm (Triuncina religiosae) were found in ruins in Shanxi Province of China, from 2,000 to 2,500 years BC. The cocoons were discovered with large holes in them, suggesting the pupae were eaten. [20] Many ancient entomophagy practices have changed little over time compared with other agricultural practices, leading to the development of modern traditional entomophagy. [20]

Traditional cultures Edit

Many cultures embrace the eating of insects. Edible insects have long been used by ethnic groups in Asia, [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] Africa, Mexico and South America as cheap and sustainable sources of protein. Up to 2,086 species are eaten by 3,071 ethnic groups in 130 countries. [9] The species include 235 butterflies and moths, 344 beetles, 313 ants, bees and wasps, 239 grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches, 39 termites, and 20 dragonflies, as well as cicadas. [32] Insects are known to be eaten in 80 percent of the world's nations. [8]

The leafcutter ant Atta laevigata is traditionally eaten in some regions of Colombia and northeast Brazil. In southern Africa, the widespread moth Gonimbrasia belina's large caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is a source of food protein. In Australia, the witchetty grub is eaten by the indigenous population. The grubs of Hypoderma tarandi, a reindeer parasite, were part of the traditional diet of the Nunamiut people. [33] Udonga montana is a pentatomid bug that has periodic population outbreaks and is eaten in northeastern India. [34]

Traditionally several ethnic groups in Indonesia are known to consume insects—especially grasshoppers, crickets, termites, the larvae of the sago palm weevil, and bee. In Java and Kalimantan, grasshoppers and crickets are usually lightly battered and deep fried in palm oil as a crispy kripik or rempeyek snack. [35] In Banyuwangi, East Java, there is a specialty botok called botok tawon (honeybee botok), which is beehives that contains bee larvae, being seasoned in spices and shredded coconut, wrapped inside a banana leaf package and steamed. [36] Dayak tribes of Kalimantan, also Moluccans and Papuan tribes in Eastern Indonesia, are known to consume ulat sagu (lit. 'sagoo caterpillar') or larvae of sago palm weevil. These protein-rich larvae are considered as a delicacy in Papua, eaten both roasted or uncooked. [37]

In Thailand, certain insects are also consumed, especially in northern provinces. Traditional markets in Thailand often have stalls selling deep-fried grasshoppers, cricket (ching rit), bee larvae, silkworm (non mai), ant eggs (khai mot) and termites. [38] [39]

The use of insects as an ingredient in traditional foodstuffs in places such as Hidalgo in Mexico has been on a large enough scale to cause their populations to decline. [40]

In East Africa, Kunga cake is a food made of densely compressed flies. [41]

Western culture Edit

Although insect products such as honey and carmine are common, eating insects has not been adopted as a widespread practice in the West. However, there is a popular current trend towards the consumption of insects. [42] By 2011, a few restaurants in the Western world regularly served insects. For example, two places in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, offer cricket-based items. Vij's Restaurant has parathas that are made from roasted crickets that are ground into a powder or meal. [43] Its sister restaurant, Rangoli Restaurant, offers pizza that was made by sprinkling whole roasted crickets on naan dough. [43] [44] Aspire Food Group was the first large-scale industrialized intensive farming entomophagy company in North America, using automated machinery in a 25,000-square-foot warehouse dedicated to raising organically-grown house crickets for human consumption. [45]

At the home stadium of the Seattle Mariners baseball team, grasshoppers are a popular novelty snack, selling in high volumes since they were introduced to concession stands in 2017. [46] [47]

Cultural taboo Edit

Within Western culture, entomophagy (barring some food additives, such as carmine and shellac) is seen as taboo. [48] There are some exceptions. Casu marzu, for example, also called casu modde, casu cundhídu, or in Italian formaggio marcio, is a cheese made in Sardinia notable for being riddled with live insect larvae. Casu marzu means 'rotten cheese' in Sardinian language and is known colloquially as maggot cheese. A scene in the Italian film Mondo Cane (1962) features an insect banquet for shock effect, and a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom features insects as part of a similar banquet for shock factor. Western avoidance of entomophagy coexists with the consumption of other invertebrates such as molluscs and the insects' close arthropod relatives crustaceans, and is not based on taste or food value. [48]

Some schools of Islamic jurisprudence consider scorpions haram, but eating locusts as halal. Others prohibit all animals that creep, including insects. [49] [50]

Within Judaism, most insects are not considered kosher, with the disputed exception of a few species of "kosher locust" which are accepted by certain communities. [51]

Public health nutritionist Alan Dangour has argued that large-scale entomophagy in Western culture faces "extremely large" barriers, which are "perhaps currently even likely to be insurmountable." [52] There is widespread disgust at entomophagy in the West, the image of insects being "unclean and disease-carrying" there have been certain notable individual exceptions, for example the celebrity Angelina Jolie has been widely pictured cooking and eating arthropod "bugs" including a spider and a scorpion, but there is little sign that this is anything other than a case of a single celebrity trying to experience a wider global perspective, nor that Jolie herself eats insects as a primary part of her diet, as opposed to experimentally or for the publicity value inherent in such an activity. [53] The anthropologist Marvin Harris has suggested that the eating of insects is taboo in cultures that have other protein sources which require more work to obtain, such as poultry or cattle, though there are cultures which feature both animal husbandry and entomophagy. Examples can be found in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe where strong cattle-raising traditions co-exist with entomophagy of insects like the mopane worm. In addition, people in cultures where entomophagy is common are not indiscriminate in their choice of insects, as Thai consumers of insects perceive edible insects not consumed within their culture in a similar way as Western consumers. [54]

Advantages of eating insects Edit

Recent assessments of the potential of large-scale entomophagy have led some experts to suggest insects as a potential alternative protein source to conventional livestock, citing possible benefits including greater efficiency, lower resource use, increased food security, and environmental and economic sustainability. [55] [56] [57] [58]

Food security Edit

The major role of entomophagy in human food security is well-documented. [57] While more attention is needed to fully assess the potential of edible insects, they provide a natural source of essential carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, offering an opportunity to bridge the gap in protein consumption between poor and wealthy nations and also to lighten the ecological footprint. [57] Many insects contain abundant stores of lysine, an amino acid deficient in the diets of many people who depend heavily on grain. [59] Some argue that the combination of increasing land use pressure, climate change, and food grain shortages due to the use of corn as a biofuel feedstock will cause serious challenges for attempts to meet future protein demand. [56]

The first publication to suggest that edible insects could ease the problems of global food shortages was by Meyer-Rochow in 1975. [60] Insects as food and feed have emerged as an especially relevant issue in the 21st century due to the rising cost of animal protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth and increasing demand for protein among the middle classes. [61] At the 2013 International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition, [62] the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a publication titled Edible insects - Future prospects for food and feed security describing the contribution of insects to food security. [61] It shows the many traditional and potential new uses of insects for direct human consumption and the opportunities for and constraints to farming them for food and feed. It examines the body of research on issues such as insect nutrition and food safety, the use of insects as animal feed, and the processing and preservation of insects and their products. [61]

Small-scale insect farming / Minilivestock Edit

The intentional cultivation of insects and edible arthropods for human food, referred to as "minilivestock", is now emerging in animal husbandry as an ecologically sound concept. Several analyses have found insect farming to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional animal livestocking. [55] [63]

In Thailand, two types of edible insects (cricket and palm weevil larvae) are commonly farmed in the north and south respectively. [64] Cricket-farming approaches throughout the northeast are similar and breeding techniques have not changed much since the technology was introduced 15 years ago. Small-scale cricket farming, involving a small number of breeding tanks, is rarely found today and most of the farms are medium- or large-scale enterprises. Community cooperatives of cricket farmers have been established to disseminate information on technical farming, marketing and business issues, particularly in northeastern and northern Thailand. Cricket farming has developed into a significant animal husbandry sector and is the main source of income for a number of farmers. In 2013, there are approximately 20,000 farms operating 217,529 rearing pens. [64] Total production over the last six years (1996-2011) has averaged around 7,500 tonnes per year. [ citation needed ]

In the Western world, agricultural technology companies such as Tiny Farms [65] have been founded with the aim of modernizing insect rearing techniques, permitting the scale and efficiency gains required for insects to displace other animal proteins in the human food supply. The first domestic insect farm, LIVIN Farms Hive, has recently been successfully Kickstarted and will allow for the production of 200-500g of mealworms per week, a step toward a more distributed domestic production system. [ citation needed ]

Therapeutic foods Edit

In 2012, Dr. Aaron T. Dossey announced that his company, All Things Bugs, had been named a Grand Challenges Explorations winner by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. [66] Grand Challenges Explorations provides funding to individuals with ideas for new approaches to public health and development. The research project is titled "Good Bugs: Sustainable Food for Malnutrition in Children". [66] Director of pediatric nutrition at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Frank Franklin has argued that since low calories and low protein are the main causes of death for approximately five million children annually, insect protein formulated into a ready-to-use therapeutic food similar to Nutriset's Plumpy'Nut could have potential as a relatively inexpensive solution to malnutrition. [52] In 2009, Dr. Vercruysse from Ghent University in Belgium has proposed that insect protein can be used to generate hydrolysates, exerting both ACE inhibitory and antioxidant activity, which might be incorporated as a multifunctional ingredient into functional foods. Additionally, edible insects can provide a good source of unsaturated fats, thereby helping to reduce coronary disease. [7]

Indigenous cultivation Edit

Edible insects can provide economic, nutritional, and ecological advantages to the indigenous populations that raise them. [67] For instance, the mopane worm of South Africa provides a "flagship taxon" for the conservation of mopane woodlands. Some researchers have argued that edible insects provide a unique opportunity for insect conservation by combining issues of food security and forest conservation through a solution which includes appropriate habitat management and recognition of local traditional knowledge and enterprises. [67] Cultures in Africa have developed unique interactions with insects as a result of their traditional ecological management practices and customs. However, senior FAO forestry officer Patrick Durst claims that "Among forest managers, there is very little knowledge or appreciation of the potential for managing and harvesting insects sustainably. On the other hand, traditional forest-dwellers and forest-dependent people often possess remarkable knowledge of the insects and their management." [68]

Similarly, Julieta Ramos-Elorduy has stated that rural populations, who primarily "search, gather, fix, commercialize and store this important natural resource", do not exterminate the species which are valuable to their lives and livelihoods. [9] According to the FAO, many experts see income opportunities for rural people involved in cultivation. However, adapting food technology and safety standards to insect-based foods would enhance these prospects by providing a clear legal foundation for insect-based foods. [68]

Pest harvesting Edit

Some researchers have proposed entomophagy as a solution to policy incoherence created by traditional agriculture, by which conditions are created which favor a few insect species, which then multiply and are termed "pests". [56] In parts of Mexico, the grasshopper Sphenarium purpurascens is controlled by its capture and use as food. Such strategies allow decreased use of pesticide and create a source of income for farmers totaling nearly US$3000 per family. Environmental impact aside, some argue that pesticide use is inefficient economically due to its destruction of insects which may contain up to 75 percent animal protein in order to save crops containing no more than 14 percent protein. [56]

Environmental benefits Edit

The methods of matter assimilation and nutrient transport used by insects make insect cultivation a more efficient method of converting plant material into biomass than rearing traditional livestock. More than 10 times more plant material is needed to produce one kilogram of meat than one kilogram of insect biomass. [56] The spatial usage and water requirements are only a fraction of that required to produce the same mass of food with cattle farming. Production of 150g of grasshopper meat requires very little water, while cattle requires 3290 liters to produce the same amount of beef. [69] This indicates that lower natural resource use and ecosystem strain could be expected from insects at all levels of the supply chain. [56] Edible insects also display much faster growth and breeding cycles than traditional livestock. An analysis of the carbon intensity of five edible insect species conducted at the University of Wageningen, Netherlands found that "the average daily gain (ADG) of the five insect species studied was 4.0-19.6 percent, the minimum value of this range being close to the 3.2% reported for pigs, whereas the maximum value was 6 times higher. Compared to cattle (0.3%), insect ADG values were much higher." Additionally, all insect species studied produced much lower amounts of ammonia than conventional livestock, though further research is needed to determine the long-term impact. The authors conclude that insects could serve as a more environmentally friendly source of dietary protein. [55]

Economic benefits Edit

Insects generally have a higher food conversion efficiency than more traditional meats, measured as efficiency of conversion of ingested food, or ECI. [70] While many insects can have an energy input to protein output ratio of around 4:1, raised livestock has a ratio closer to 54:1. [71] This is partially due to the fact that feed first needs to be grown for most traditional livestock. Additionally, endothermic (warm-blooded) vertebrates need to use a significantly greater amount of energy just to stay warm whereas ectothermic (cold-blooded) plants or insects do not. [69] An index which can be used as a measure is the Efficiency of conversion of ingested food to body substance: for example, only 10% of ingested food is converted to body substance by beef cattle, versus 19–31% by silkworms and 44% by German cockroaches. Studies concerning the house cricket (Acheta domesticus) provide further evidence for the efficiency of insects as a food source. When reared at 30 °C or more and fed a diet of equal quality to the diet used to rear conventional livestock, crickets showed a food conversion twice as efficient as pigs and broiler chicks, four times that of sheep, and six times higher than steers when losses in carcass trim and dressing percentage are counted. [20]

Insects reproduce at a faster rate than beef animals. A female cricket can lay from 1,200 to 1,500 eggs in three to four weeks, while for beef the ratio is four breeding animals for each market animal produced. This gives house crickets a true food conversion efficiency almost 20 times higher than beef. [20]

Nutritional benefits Edit

Insects such as crickets are a complete protein (contains all nine essential amino acids) and contain a more useful amount, comparable with protein from soybeans, though less than in casein (found in foods such as cheese). [72] They have dietary fiber and include mostly unsaturated fat and contain some vitamins [73] and essential minerals. [74] [75]

Impacts of animal agriculture Edit

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), animal agriculture makes a "very substantial contribution" to climate change, air pollution, land, soil and water degradation, land use concerns, deforestation and the reduction of biodiversity. [76] The high growth and intensity of animal agriculture has caused ecological damage worldwide with meat production predicted to double from now to 2050, maintaining the status quo's environmental impact would demand a 50 percent reduction of impacts per unit of output. As the FAO states, animal livestock "emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." [76] Some researchers argue that establishing sustainable production systems will depend upon a large-scale replacement of traditional livestock with edible insects such a shift would require a major change in Western perceptions of edible insects, pressure to conserve remaining habitats, and an economic push for food systems that incorporate insects into the supply chain. [58]

Greenhouse gas emission Edit

In total, the emissions of the livestock sector account for 18 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, [55] a greater share than the transportation sector. [76] Using the ratio between body growth realized and carbon production as an indicator of environmental impact, conventional agriculture practices entail substantial negative impacts as compared to entomophagy. [55] The University of Wageningen analysis found that the CO
2 production per kilogram of mass gain for the five insect species studied was 39-129% that of pigs and 12-54% that of cattle. This finding corroborates existing literature on the higher feed conversion efficiency of insects as compared to mammalian livestock. For four of the five species studied, GHG emission was "much lower than documented for pigs when expressed per kg of mass gain and only around 1% of the GHG emission for ruminants." [55]

Land use Edit

Animal livestock is the largest anthropogenic user of land. [76] 26 percent of the Earth's ice-free terrestrial surface is occupied by grazing, while feedcrop production amounts to 33 percent of total arable land. Livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the planet's land surface. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock activity such as overgrazing, erosion, and soil compaction, has been the primary cause of the degradation of 20 percent of the world's pastures and rangeland. [76] Animal livestock is responsible for 64 percent of man-made ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain. [76] By extension, animal waste contributes to environmental pollution through nitrification and acidification of soil. [55]

Water pollution Edit

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 64 percent of the world's population is expected to live in water-stressed basins by 2025. A reassessment of human usage and treatment of water resources will likely become necessary in order to meet growing population needs. [76] The FAO argues that the livestock sector is a major source of water pollution and loss of freshwater resources:

The livestock sector [. ] is probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, "dead" zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others. The major sources of pollution are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feedcrops, and sediments from eroded pastures. Global figures are not available but in the United States, with the world's fourth largest land area, livestock are responsible for an estimated 55 percent of erosion and sediment, 37 percent of pesticide use, 50 percent of antibiotic use, and a third of the loads of nitrogen and phosphorus into freshwater resources. Livestock also affect the replenishment of freshwater by compacting soil, reducing infiltration, degrading the banks of watercourses, drying up floodplains and lowering water tables. [76]

Potential as alternative pet food Edit

There is potential for insects to be used as a protein source in insect based pet food. Novel protein sources have possible benefits for pets with sensitive gastrointestinal tracts or food allergies, as the proteins are not recognized by the animal's body, and therefore are less likely to cause irritation. [77] Insects have also been shown to have a high palatibility to both companion and livestock animals. [78] They have a good amino acid profile, and also contain many essential nutrients for companion animals. Insects have also been shown to have a high digestibility in pets. [79] There have been studies done evaluating the protein quality of commonly used insects and their nutrient values in comparison to traditional pet food protein. [80]

Disadvantages Edit

Spoilage Edit

Spore forming bacteria can spoil both raw and cooked insect protein, threatening to cause food poisoning. While edible insects must be processed with care, simple methods are available to prevent spoilage. Boiling before refrigeration is recommended drying, acidification, or use in fermented foods also seem promising. [81]

Allergic reactions Edit

Adverse allergic reactions are a potential hazard of insect consumption. [82] Cross-reactivity between edible insects and crustaceans has been identified as clinically relevant in one review. [83] A study on the prevalence of allergies to edible insects in Thailand indicated that:

[A]pproximately 7.4% of people experienced an adverse reaction indicative of an edible-insect allergy and 14.7% of people experienced multiple adverse reactions indicative of an edible-insect allergy. Furthermore, approximately 46.2% of people that already suffer from a known food-based allergy also experienced symptoms indicative of an allergic reaction after insect consumption. [84]

Toxicity Edit

In general, many insects are herbivorous and less problematic than omnivores. Cooking is advisable in ideal circumstances since parasites of concern may be present. But pesticide use can make insects unsuitable for human consumption. Herbicides can accumulate in insects through bioaccumulation. For example, when locust outbreaks are treated by spraying, people can no longer eat them. This may pose a problem since edible plants have been consumed by the locusts themselves. [20]

In some cases, insects may be edible regardless of their toxicity. In the Carnia region of Italy, moths of the Zygaenidae family have been eaten by children despite their potential toxicity. The moths are known to produce hydrogen cyanide precursors in both larvae and adults. However, the crops of the adult moths contain cyanogenic chemicals in extremely low quantities along with high concentrations of sugar, making Zygaena a convenient supplementary source of sugar during the early summer. The moths are very common and easy to catch by hand, and the low cyanogenic content makes Zygaena a minimally risky seasonal delicacy. [85]

Cases of lead poisoning after consumption of chapulines were reported by the California Department of Health Services in November 2003. [86]

Ethical objections Edit

The humaneness of insect consumption has been questioned. One objection is the large numbers of individuals raised and killed per unit of protein—exacerbated by a high tendency towards premature mortality—in comparison to other animal-based foods. [87] The potential for insects to be conscious, and as a result experience pain and suffering, has also been raised as a concern. [88]

Sustainability Edit

Concerns have been raised about the sustainability of insect consumption, such as overexploitation due to wild-harvesting. [89] Food used to feed the insects raised for consumption may also have a large environmental footprint, which when scaled-up, could potentially make insect consumption similarly sustainable to traditional protein sources negating any alleged benefit. [90] Additionally, edible insect preservation processes such as freeze-drying and grinding may use a large amount of energy. [91]

Promotion and policy instruments Edit

The Food and Agriculture Organization has displayed an interest in developing entomophagy on multiple occasions. In 2008, the FAO organized a conference to "discuss the potential for developing insects in the Asia and Pacific region." [68] According to Durst, FAO efforts in entomophagy will focus on regions in which entomophagy has been historically accepted but has recently experienced a decline in popularity. [ citation needed ]

In 2011, the European Commission issued a request for reports on the current use of insects as food, with the promise that reports from each European Union member state would serve to inform legislative proposals for the new process for insect foods. [92] According to NPR, the European Union is investing more than 4 million dollars to research entomophagy as a human protein source. [93]

On January 13, 2021, the European Food Safety Authority announced that the larval form of the mealworm beetle is safe for human consumption in both its whole form and as a powder additive. [94]