Many people in the United States only see ants as a nuisance pest whose sole mission is to find food inside your home. But did you know that there are many parts of the world that eat ants on a regular basis? In this article we’ll be talking about whether can you eat ants, are ants edible, and are they a good source of nutrition!
Can You Eat Ants?
Yes, you can eat ants, ants are completely edible and consumed by people across the world every single day.
Many people argue that ants are a good source of nutrients and easy protein, all while being more sustainable than other animal proteins. Maybe we should add humans to the list of animals that eat ants!
Popular Ant Species You Can Eat
That being said, not all types of ants are safe for consumption! Here are some of the most popular types of ants that are safe to eat!
- Leafcutter Ants: Leafcutter ants are found throughout the United States, especially in warmer regions. These are the ants that you’ll often see cutting through leaves and carrying them back to their colony.
- Honeypot Ants: Honeypot ants are found in Australia and consume honey and other sugars while storing the honey in their bodies for extended periods of time. This gives them a sweet taste when consumed.
- Weaver Ants: Weaver ants are found mainly in Southeast Asia and they actually make their nests out of a silk that they can weave, similar to a spider.
Although it might sound strange to Americans, many countries eat ants on a daily basis and they can be perfectly safe!
Similar to this, many people around the world actually eat cockroaches as well! So check out our guide on can you eat a cockroach!
How Do You Eat Ants?
There are many ways to eat ants, but this all depends on where you’re located and the types of ants you’re thinking of consuming.
Ants such as the Australian Honeypot Ants are considered a sweet treat because of their sweet taste and are often eaten plain and live.
Other ants can be consumed whole or prepared and added to dishes. Along with this, you can also eat adult ants or larvae, and they each have their own unique flavor profile.
Preparing Ants To Eat
Depending on the species of ants will determine how you should prepare them. But here are some of the most popular ways to prepare ants to eat:
- Raw: In many parts of the world ants are consumed whole and raw. They are simply popped into your mouth and you chew them just like a nut.
- Fried: Fried is another popular method to prepare and eat ants. Fried ants are usually a bit crunchier and have a nice fried flavor to them.
- Added To Soups and Other DIshes: Ants are also often added to soups and other dishes to add additional acidity to the dish. This is popular in Southeast Asian countries such as Laos. Ants are also added on top of salads and other dishes to give a bit of a crunch texture to the dishes.
Nutritional Benefits of Eating Ants
Ants have a wide variety of nutritional benefits as well as ecological benefits, which makes them a popular edible insect around the world.
Ants are widely available in most countries which is a big benefit, but nutritionally they are full of protein, fiber, and vitamins! The high protein count in ants is a huge benefit and is one of the reasons why cricket and other insect-based proteins have been on the rise over the past few years!
Their bodies contain vitamins such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and other vitamins which can be difficult to find in certain countries.
Ant Protein As An Alternative To Traditional Animal Protein
One of the biggest benefits of insect-based protein is that it’s more sustainable for our planet compared to traditional animal protein such as beef.
Ant-based protein is much more efficient in the sense that it takes less space, resources, water, money, and food to produce similar amounts of protein compared to a cow farm.
Along with this, the gases emitted by cows and other traditional livestock harms our ozone layer, which doesn’t occur with ant farms.
Although eating ants for protein sounds vert strange for most Americans, it’s much more sustainable and environmentally friendly compared to traditional protein sources such as cows or chickens.
Is It Safe To Eat Ants?
Eating ants is generally considered safe for most people, as long as the ants are from a clean and non-toxic source. However, it’s important to note that not all ants are safe to eat, and certain precautions should be taken. Some species such as flying ants do bite, so you need to be extra careful!
Many species of ants are consumed as food in various cultures around the world. These ants are typically harvested, prepared, and cooked in specific ways to ensure safety and enhance their flavor. For instance, in some regions, ant larvae or pupae are consumed rather than adult ants.
It’s essential to know the specific species of ants you intend to eat, as some may contain defensive mechanisms or toxins that can cause allergic reactions or be harmful when ingested. Fire ants, for example, have a painful sting and are not suitable for consumption.
If you’re considering eating ants, it’s advisable to source them from reputable suppliers who specialize in providing edible insects for consumption. They can ensure that the ants are safe, free from pesticides or contaminants, and handled in a hygienic manner.
Furthermore, if you have any known allergies or sensitivities, it’s important to exercise caution. Like any new food, it’s recommended to start with small quantities to observe your body’s reaction and ensure there are no adverse effects.
It’s always wise to consult with a healthcare professional or an expert in entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) for specific guidance regarding the safety and suitability of consuming ants or any other insects in your particular circumstances.
Final Thoughts On Eating Ants
Eating ants seems strange, and most people didn’t even know that ants are edible. But there are quite a few benefits of consuming ants.
That being said, I’m not recommending you simply go outside and start popping ants in your mouth. There are specific species of ants that are better to eat compared to others, and I suggest you source your ants from a trusted supplier rather than finding them outside.
I hope this article on can you eat ants was helpful and helped to open your eyes to other sources of protein!