Can you eat Christmas beetles? (1 Surprising Fact)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat Christmas beetles? We will discuss the optimum way to prepare Christmas beetles, the taste and texture, and some characteristics of the Christmas beetles.

Can you eat Christmas beetles?

You can eat Christmas beetles. Christmas beetles make for both a snack and meal in some regions. Christmas beetles need to be cooked for around half-hour to make them tender and then fried.

According to studies, a total of 212 edible insect species from nine orders were recorded and are potentially consumed in different African countries. Of these, 41% were Lepidoptera, 23% Orthoptera, 15% Coleoptera, 12% Blattodea (including both cockroaches and termites as recently classified) (1).

What are Christmas beetles?

Christmas beetles are known for their distinctively metallic bodies that are around 3 cm long. Over 35 species of Christmas beetles are found in Australia alone. While the dominant color that Christmas beetle comes in is metallic grey, they can also be found in golden-brown and green colors. 

The adult Christmas beetles like to eat eucalyptus leaves while the baby beetle feeds on the decaying matter. 

Christmas beetles have a layer of reflectors on their shells that give their familiar glisten. Christmas beetles come from the family of the scarab beetle. 

 For some people, having Christmas beetles in their backyard can be a menace because they will eat up most of the plants and leaves.

The adult beetles feed on the leaves of trees, mostly eucalypts, while the larvae are soil dwell- ing and feed on soil organic matter, the roots of grasses, and the finer roots of eucalypts. Damage by the adults can be severe in some eucalypt species, restricting the use in Australia of some potentially valuable forestry species (2).

However, being an endangered species, some people would encourage the growth of these creatures. Christmas beetles are a delight to have around, but you can eat them too. The Christmas beetles live for one to two years. 

You need to keep the grass moist and well-nourished to sustain the Christmas beetle hatchlings. Keep your grass healthy and do not spray pesticides. 

Also, avoid overwatering the grass, especially during winter times. To encourage the population of Christmas beetles, have multiple native eucalyptus trees around.

Moisture content of edible insects ranges from 1–7.5%, which is relatively low, such that most edible insects have longer preservation periods, and the risk of microbial deterioration and spoilage is minimal. Unlike beef or chicken, which are prone to decay (unless refrigerated), edible insects can be stored for longer periods, especially during the dry season when food shortage is higher. Edible insects contain fat content ranging from 1–67%. The fat content of edible insects is higher in the larval stage. For example, a palm weevil, which is a beetle larva that is consumed as a delicacy in western Africa, contained the highest fat content of 67% (1).

How to cook Christmas beetles?  

Christmas beetles are usually boiled repeatedly and then fried. Christmas beetles are very hard and need to be cooked for a while until they become crunchy and lose their hardiness.  

  • To cook the Christmas beetles first pluck their wings off. 
  • Put the Christmas beetles in a pot of water and bring them to a boil.
  • Boil for a few minutes, then discard the water and fill in a fresh batch.
  • Repeat the process, filling a fresh batch of water. 
  • Drain the water and fry in some cooking oil with a sprinkle of salt. 
  • Boiling helps to soften the Christmas beetles while frying makes them crunchy. 
  • Christmas beetles can be eaten as a snake or even as a meal. 
  • Add some seasoning of your likings, such as white, and black pepper and some chili flakes.

You can also dry the Christmas beetles, and store them. Fry them before you serve.  

Beetles have in 100 g dry matter, in average, 32.8% Protein, 6.2% Fibers, 7.6% Moisture, 4.7% Ash, 22.6% Carbohydrates, 11.2 mg Vitamin A, 1.9 mg Vitamin B2, 5,4 mg Vitamin C, 14.1 mg of Iron, 43.6 mg Calcium, 14.4 mg Zinc, 10.1 mg Magnesium and 29.1 g Fats (1).

Where are Christmas beetles found?

Besides the metallic color, another variant of Christmas beetles is violet or opal that are found in Northern Queensland. The most popular kind of Christmas beetle is the brown Anoplognathus Pallidicollis and is found in Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia. 

Christmas beetles are largely found in Australia in woodland areas rather than the deserts. Christmas beetles live underground and come up only during summertime. Christmas beetles thrive during wet seasons; thunderstorms and rains encourage their eggs to hatch. 

Christmas beetles like to fly around during night times. As nocturnal creatures, they can be seen flying around during Christmas time shining up the night skies. 

Christmas beetles live and reproduce underneath the soil and may need to be taken care of. Christmas beetles feed on decaying organic matter and plant roots. They also like eating eucalyptus trees. 

After the rain makes the ground wet, the beetles copulate and the female beetles lay between 20 to 40 eggs at a time. The larvae hatch during the spring season. 

Who eats Christmas beetles?

Christmas beetles are eaten by Zimbabweans. They are healthy and make a treat during the holidays. In the countryside, where the hard-working low-income citizens live, the Christmas beetles are relished as a healthy and tasty snack. Edible insects are widely consumed in Africa, and play an important role in nutritious diets (1).

ZImbabwe is no stranger to insect-based feasts. While poverty still encourages some to carry on the habit, others have a modernized diet.

Besides, insects are consumed as food in Thailand, China, Mexico, Latin America, Japan, and Africa. According to van Huis, approximately 2 billion people worldwide regularly consume insects as part of their diets. The consumption of insects is not a new phenomenon, as it dates back to before the development of agriculture when humans relied on gathering plants and hunting wild animals (1).

Why are Christmas beetles becoming scarce?

Due to climate change, the moisture from the environment is being lost. In Sydney and New South Wales, the Christmas beetles have reduced greatly because the plain woodland has decreased in size. 

A dry season means that these creatures are not able to thrive. Moreover, urbanization has destroyed their habitat. the primary means of sustenance and home; Eucalyptus trees have reduced greatly, hence wiping much of their population. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat Christmas beetles? We discussed the optimum way to prepare Christmas beetles, the taste and texture, and some characteristics of the Christmas beetles.

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Hlongwane, Zabentungwa T., Rob Slotow, and Thinandavha C. Munyai. Nutritional composition of edible insects consumed in africa: A systematic review. Nutrients, 2020, 12, 2786.