Can you eat wasps?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat wasps?” and discuss what are the risks of eating wasps.

Can you eat wasps?

Yes, you can eat wasps. Wasp larvae and pupae are also edible. However, wasp larvae are said to taste terrible, while their pupae are sweet, according to studies. 

Records show that it has been customary for Chinese people to eat wasps since ancient times. Wasps are also eaten in other countries, such as Mexico, Japan and Thailand (1). 

The soft portions (the cuticle and the wings) can be eaten, while the hard parts (the wings and the cuticle) should not, as they are not digestible. However, usually the wings, hard exoskeletons and intestines are removed before cooking (2).

What are the benefits of eating wasps?

The benefits of eating wasps are the nutrients provided by these insects. They contain a high amount of protein. The protein and amino acid content of wasps in the larval stage is higher than in common foods, such as eggs and pork (2).

According to studies, the protein digestibility of insects varies from 76 to 98% among the edible insects known. Wasps had the highest protein content (2).

The protein content of four wasp species larvae was analyzed by studies. Results showed that the protein content of larva of V. basalis Smith, V. mandarinia mandarinia Smith, Polistes sagittarius Saussure and P. sulcatus Smith was 53.18, 54.59, 46.17 and 57.88%, respectively. 

The average of these four species of larvae is 52.96%, higher than the protein content of pork (21.42%), milk (28.04%) and eggs (48.83%). These results clearly show that wasp larvae are very rich in protein (2).

In addition, edible insects are rich in protein, fat and calories, as well as being good sources of minerals such as iron, calcium and vitamins A, B1 , B2 and D.

What are the risks of eating wasps?

The risks of eating wasps is the presence of chitin and chitosan in their composition. Chitin and chitosan compose the exoskeleton of insects, including wasps. 

Chitin and chitosan have the ability to bind to dietary fats, which leads to a decrease in the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. As a consequence, it may reduce the absorption of fats in the intestines. 

However, chitosan can also form a gel that traps lipids, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, in the long term, chitosan may interfere with the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, which can present a risk to bone metabolism. Pregnant women are especially at risk in this case (3).

Besides, scientific observation reveals that the consumption of animal fat and protein can lead to the formation of kidney stones, although the mechanism in which this happens is uncertain. 

In addition, there is a risk of having allergic reactions caused by the consumption of insects, including wasps. Allergies caused by eating silkworm pupae, cicadas, crickets, wasps, grasshoppers and stink bugs are also reported in China (1).

Proteinous components from wasp venoms can cause tissue damage or allergic reactions in individuals and have been shown to be lethal and hasten fatal allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and tissue damage (4).

On the other hand, studies showed that the wasp venom peptides have several positive properties that could be explored in the medical field, including antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and anticoagulant effects.

How to prepare wasps?

You can steam and mix the insects with vinegar and other seasonings. In the case of larvae and pulp, you can use them in a soup with bamboo shoots and vegetables.

The most common way to prepare wasps is deep-frying or frying with chicken eggs, similar to cooking methods employed for edible insects in general.

In Japan, wasps are usually boiled with soy sauce or fried with salt. The larvae are boiled to a hard consistency with soy sauce, sugar and sake. The cooked wasp larvae are then mixed with rice (3).

In Thailand, oil-free insect recipes of wasps and other insects include roasting, smoking (or baking), steaming, poaching, with chili paste, as a hot salad (half cooked) and uncooked/ raw. 


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat wasps?” and we discussed what are the risks of eating wasps.


  1. Feng, Ying, et al. Edible insects in China: Utilization and prospects. Insect Sci, 2018, 25, 184-198.
  2. Ying, Feng, et al. Common edible wasps in Yunnan Province, China and their nutritional value. Forest insects as food: humans bite back. 2010.
  3. Yhoung-Aree, Jintana. Edible insects in Thailand: nutritional values and health concerns. Forest insects as food: humans bite back, 2010, 201.
  4. Luo, Lei, Peter Muiruri Kamau, and Ren Lai. Bioactive peptides and proteins from wasp venoms. Biomolecules, 2022, 12, 527.

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