Can you eat ants?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat ants?”. We will also answer other questions related to the subject including which ants are edible, how they taste, are ants safe to eat, and more.

Can you eat ants? 

Yes, you can eat ants. However, it totally depends on the species of ants you’re talking about. Some species of ants are even poisonous and harmful to eat.

Which ants are edible? 

There are plenty of species of ants, and not all of them are safe to eat. Some of the popular edible ants are 

Black ants 

Black ants are commonly eaten in China and Kenya. 

Honey ants 

Honey ants are most commonly eaten by Australia’s indigenous communities. Honey ants use their stomach to store honey and feed their colony during scarcity and are also called honeypot ants. 

Leaf-cutting ants 

Leaf-cutting ants cut leads to feed fungi, which are used by them to feed their larvae. They’re popular in Latin American countries like Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Panama.

What do ants taste like? 

Raw ants have a sour, citrusy flavour because of the formic acid found naturally in them.  If you don’t like the tangy taste, you can roast them to reduce the vinegary flavour. You can also boil the ants to neutralise the acid. The larvae are fattier and have a nutty flavour when you cook them. Cooking your ants is a better option since it will also help kill any bacteria or parasites, if present.

Can everyone eat ants? 

No, everyone cannot eat ants. You should eat ants if you are allergic to chocolate, dust, shellfish, or shrimp. If you are allergic to these things, you can eat ants only if you’re in a survival situation, however, it should be cooked because ants can cause extreme allergic reactions.

Can you eat fire ants? 

No, you should not eat fire ants. Fire ants are very aggressive and poisonous. The bite of a fire ant is painful and will cause swelling, burning, and a stinging sensation on the skin. 

You shouldn’t eat ants that have a strong smell as they might be poisonous and have a very bad taste. Also, do not eat ants that you did not kill yourself because you don’t know how these ants died or how long they’ve been dead.

Are ants nutritious? 

The nutritional value of ants depends on their species. Other factors that may influence the nutritional content of ants include their diet, habitat, and metamorphic stage. Ants are also a source of fibre and minerals, like iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. Chitin is a type of insoluble fibre found in insects, most commonly. 

Type of antsProtein/ 100grams
Adult leaf-cutting ants42-53 grams 
Black ants40-45 grams
Weaver ants’ larvae and eggs 7 grams 

Are ants safe to eat? 

Edible ants are safe to eat, but ants like fire ants and jack jumper ants are not safe to eat because they are poisonous. If you eat whole ants, you also eat their gut bacteria leading to the ingestion of parasites. Dicrocoelium dendriticum is a parasite that infects humans who eat ants that have metacercariae.

How can you harvest ants? 

If you’re anywhere near Antarctica, you’ll be able to find their colony easily. Just keep your eyes on the ground, watch for ants, follow them, and you’ll be able to find their colony. Disturb the colony and you’ll see ants coming out in droves. You may use your hand or a stick to collect them and then put them in your container.

How are ants prepared? 

You can eat ants in adult form or larvae or can use them as an ingredient in your dishes. However, how ants are prepared depends on the species of ants and the country. Here’s how ants are prepared around the world,

Colombia 

In Colombia, leaf-cutting ants and Queen ants are fried and sold in local markets. 

India 

The eggs and larvae of weaver ants are boiled with spices whereas adult ants are made in the form of chutney with salt and spices. 

Laos 

Weaver ants are used to add acidity to fish soups. 

Mexico 

Leaf-cutting ants are roasted or ground and are useful to add flavour to mayonnaise and make sauces. 

Peruvian Amazon 

Weaver ants are roasted or fried and their larvae are roasted and then mixed with cassava flour. 

Thailand 

In Thailand, Weaver ants are sold in cans.

Are queen ants famous in Colombia? 

The Queen ants are eaten by the handful on street corners, fried on the stoves of the working-class homes, and featured on tasting menus at high-end restaurants in Colombia. A kilogram of Queen ants can sell for up to 300, 000 pesos, making them way more valuable than the famous coffee of Colombia, and providing a good source of income for the locals.

Are there any other edible bugs?

Beetles and beetle larvae, wasps and wasp larvae, grasshoppers, and butterflies/moths are some of the most popular culinary insects around the world. Insects are used in a wide range of recipes across cultures, and their flavours are frequently compared to those of various shellfish. Click here to read more about edible bugs.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question, “Can you eat ants?”. We also answered other questions related to the subject including which ants are edible, how they taste, are ants safe to eat, and more.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eating-ants#benefits
https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20200708-could-eating-ants-help-us-live-longer

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.