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Insects on the Menu

Feature Image Above by Megan Asche

Students of Washington State University professor Richard Zack’s “Insects and People” course, as well as the public, have a chance each fall to put their gag reflex to the test during the annual insect-eating lunch at Ensminger Pavilion.

The menu typically consists of food like cricket chili, mealworm tacos and various pastries sweetened with honey, an insect byproduct. Those attending can also sample comb honey and wax.



Zack, director of WSU’s M.T. James Entomological Collection, said the insect lunch is a way for his students to understand that people in other parts of the world don’t exclude insects from their diets either as a protein supplement, flavoring in dishes or for medicinal purposes.

In Japan, traditional foods incorporate different insects, such as bees and cicadas. In Thailand, certain insects are ground up and used as seasonings. The Chinese have used scorpions, certain spiders and many ants in traditional medicine. Africans seeking another protein source turned to termites, grasshoppers and caterpillars.

Zack had occasion to try termites during a visit to Africa: “They actually weren’t that bad,” he said.

The WSU insect lunch also has bug-free chili and tacos for students and others not inclined to push their luck – or their gullets.

WSU News, by Nella Letizia, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

For more information, contact Zack at 509-335-3394 or