Armadillidium vulgare: Land Shrimp

By Green Deane, in Critter Cuisine on Eat The Weeds

What shall we call them? Roly Pollies? Pill Bugs? Woodlice? Sowbugs, or a half a dozen other names?

They are not bugs (more than six legs, count seven.) They are not lice, and not all of them roll. And their scientific name is a mouthful, Armadillidium vulgare. Land shrimp might be more accurate for these little creatures in the class of Crustaea are closely related to shrimp, crabs and lobsters, whose taste they resemble. There are land versions and water versions including large deep sea ones. In the world there is some 3,500 species of them and they tend to be parasite free.

Let’s stick with Pillbugs for two good reasons. Those are the only ones that roll themselves into a ball, and they are the most edible of the lineup (some non-rolling sowbugs are foul-smelling and tasting.) Look for them in moist places such as basements, under rocks and logs (but also look out of other more harmful creatures.)  They dry out easily so they are never far from moisture.

Besides being edible some people believed — not yet proven — that Pillbugs helped ease upset stomachs and complaining livers. There could be a hint of truth to that in that their shells are high in calcium carbonate, which counteracts stomach acid. To collect a lot of them effortlessly turn half a cantaloupe upside down in the shade near a moist area They will collect under it and feed as they are mostly vegetarians.  Note there can be as many as 10,000 of them per square meter and sometimes they are kept as pets, living up to five years (with good veterinary care no doubt.)

In his 1885 book “Why Not Insects” Victorian Vincent Holt wrote about Pillbugs on pages 58 and 59:

“I have eaten these, and found that, when chewed, a flavour is developed remarkable akin to that so much appreciated in their sea cousins. Wood-louse sauce is equal, if not distinctly superior to, shrimp.”

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Potential escargot, socialising in the garden.

Did you know snail farming is called Heliciculture? These Helix pomatia gastropods have been raised for food at least since the time of the Ancient Romans.

In addition to being eaten as food, their slime has been used as medicine, and in cosmetics.

Deep-fried tarantula, anyone?

“80 percent of the world population already eats bugs, as [entomophagist David George] Gordon writes. In fact, bugs are on the menu, he says, pretty much everywhere except the U.S., Canada and Europe. In other words, we’re the weirdos.

But, as we’ve reported before, plenty of people are trying to change that – from Dutch epicuresto the U.N.’s agriculture arm. Insects are nutritious, plentiful and better for the environment than other sources of protein, like beef cattle, advocates say.”


Entomophagy = When People Bite Back!

If you’ve ever wanted to extract some revenge after enduring a lifetime of bug bites, there is a name for it…

Entomophagy is the technical term for people eating insects. Humans have actually harvested the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults of certain insect species from forests or other suitable habitats to eat for thousands of years. Even so, it is still considered a cultural taboo in Western cultures like the United States.

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Throughout many parts of Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, over 1,000 species of insects are known to be eaten. Among the more popular menu items on this list include crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, beetle grubs, caterpillars, scorpions and “urp” (pardon me!) tarantulas.

Personally speaking, here in NYC, I sleep well knowing that our trusted and efficient Health Inspectors are on duty to keep the various bugs and bug parts OUT OF my food.

All images © F. Tomasinelli & E. Scoti / Science Source 

Eating wild fruit means getting the occasional mouthful of frass. This is a larva of a Plum Moth.

I’m very pro-entomophagy (insect-eating) from a practical and intellectual point of view, but I have a ways to go in terms of unlearning the visceral revulsion that comes from seeing an insect in my fruit. It doesn’t help that my sister was once bit on the tongue by an earwig in an apricot (she got in the local newspaper!): that imagery stays with you.

Gardening without chemically-synthesised pest controls (where possible) means eating (or eating around) the creepy crawlies, as one does with wild fruit: other than a relatively ecologically-friendly pheromone trap, there’s no way around ‘sharing the harvest.’


The buzz about entomophagy: Is eating insects more than a novelty?
Jiminy Cricket may be able to do more than guide our consciences: he, or his kin, may also provide food security solutions for a growing and hungry world. However, the notion of insects-as-food struggles to find widespread traction amid problems with standardization of food safety standards, government disinterest and only a small body of research. So is there a future for cricket sushi or fried silk worms? Insects as food has become something of a stalwart “weird” news story in the press, giving hacks plenty to buzz about (sorry). However there are many reasons to push the benefits: low environmental costs, high nutritive value, low farming costs, high value as a cash crop for poor families and a possible solution to what may be a looming food security crisis as the population grows and land for farms shrinks. These claims are all true – in fact some kinds of insects contain as much as 65 percent protein for every hundred grams, far above beef or chicken – but there are still some pretty serious roadblocks for any kind of mass cultivation. Some two billion people eat insects as part of their diets worldwide but this occurs largely in the developing world; insects as food fell out of favor completely in Europe by the mid- to late-Nineteenth Century as the march of civilization made such diets seem “primitive”. Geographers Peter Illgner and Etienne Nel argued in a 2000 paper on consumption and harvesting of the mopane worm in sub-Saharan Africa that the global food system had to a certain extent marginalized traditional or alternate forms of food in favor of a more westernized style of dining, and that entomophagy was now seen in some quarters as primitive even as the moth grubs became a more important source of cash for some families.
Certain insects, notably bees and silk worms, have been cultivated across the planet by humans for centuries, but wider scale farming of insects for food lags. There are 20,000 cricket farms in Thailand, though little legislative support or government oversight, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). (via The buzz about entomophagy: Is eating insects more than a novelty?)

Finalist: NYAN (Not Your Average Ninjas)

Faculty Advisor: Ibrahim Sanal
School: Fulton Science Academy Private School

Entomophagy will become an impactful food source in the future. The world’s population is growing and the resources we use are depleting. We need to find a new viable sources of food that will be available to us in the future. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that the world needs to increase its food production by 70% by 2050 (only 35 years) in order to serve a global population of  9 billion. Animal feed production is increasingly competing for resources with human food, fuel production, urbanization and nature. 70% of the world’s agricultural land is already directly or indirectly dedicated to meat production. With a growing world population and increasingly demanding consumers, can we still produce sufficient animal protein in the future?


When the researchers actually took a bunch of crickets and fed them a diet of chicken feed, they found they were only slightly more efficient than poultry. More disappointingly, they found that crickets fed the lowest quality, and thus cheapest and most efficient, diet of “minimally-processed, municipal-scale food waste” failed to thrive. Crickets might seem like a bold new alternative to chickens, in other words, but they get there by eating more of the same, old inefficient grain.

Crickets aren’t as efficient a source of protein as some claim, researchers say

It’s Time to Eat Insects

Entomologist Arnold van Huis wants to bring the world around to entomophagy By Daniel Cressey Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, studies the eating of insects, or entomophagy, and is the author of ‘Edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security’, published in 2013 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Now he is organizing the first international conference to address the question of whether insects can feed the world. Ahead of the conference opening on May 14 in Wageningen, van Huis talked to Nature about researching, and dining on, this neglected food source.

(Full article: Scientific American)

(Image source)


The lady in charge of ordering food at the school said she found a website that sells insects for human consumption (the only way the school will let me serve it to people.) She is calling them either today or tomorrow to order me some giant grasshoppers or crickets! Yayyyyyy! So excited! 

And also I figured I should get some practice cooking them before I serve them to people so I picked up some live crickets at the pet store today! The guy eventually got it out of me what my plans were for the little suckers so he gave me double the amount for free! And he told me to have fun, hahaha. 

Anyone up for an insect cooking show?! Cause I am probably going to film it. 

Your introduction to the wild world of eating bugs

There’s nothing like sitting down to a plate full of crickets and mealworms, spiced up with a few scorpions. By this point, science should have convinced you that eating more insects is a healthy option for you and for the planet, so let’s get down to it. This past month, I embarked on a quest to sample insects available to order from the wilds of the Internet.