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Can You Eat Ants?

For outdoor survival, you need to be willing to eat anything that is edible. This includes insects. Some of the many insects that you can, under most circumstances*, eat safely are grubs, crickets, termites, grasshoppers, and even common house ants.

*The only real dangers that you can face eating any of the above insects is they were poisoned or somehow contaminated. However, in an outdoor wilderness survival situation, this will likely not be the case.

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AVOID THE FOLLOWING INSECTS

Not all insects are safe. So avoid the following bugs.

● Insects that have the following physical characteristics: fine hair, eight legs or more, and bright colors.

● Disease Carrying Insects-Ticks, mosquitos are flies a prime example.

● Poisonous-Do not eat any insect that is poisonous. For example, do not eat a spider, or centipede.

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Why Insects?

Crickets For Protein

Yum!!!

 

In certain parts of the world, insects like ants and grasshoppers are considered a delicacy. This makes sense as most insects are nutritious and packed full of protein. (There have even been studies where scientists have discovered that that the antioxidants in ants eating ants could help even prevent cancer)

The only downside is that it takes a heck of a lot of insects for even a snack. As a result, you should first search for insects that are easier and can be harvested quickly.

Ants as Food

Ants are quite common and plentiful as there are over 10,000 types of ants worldwide and over 1,000 different species of ants in the United States. A good rule of thumb is the warmer it is the more ant species an area will have. Ants though can live in almost any type of environment.

IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH THIS FACT: Antarctica is the only continent where there are not any ants.

Ant larvae – An Ant Larvae is a young ant that is small, white, and without legs. They are also an excellent source of food and, as a bonus, they do not have a sour taste when eaten raw.

Ant Larvae and Ant Eggs

Ant Larvae is also edible

Can You Eat Ants Without Getting Sick?

The only way that you can be hurt by eating ants is if they were somehow contaminated, poisoned, or if you have a shellfish allergy. Contamination would likely only occur because of pesticides, which is not likely if you are in the backcountry in the woods.

If you are still not convinced that ants are okay to eat take a look at these chocolate-covered ants that are listed on Amazon.

Why Are Ants An Excellent Source For Food?

Red ant, black ant, and almost all other ant species are highly nutritious and are excellent sources of protein and fats. For example, every 3.5 ounces of red ants provides around 14 grams of protein. Black ants are also highly nutritious. (You can even purchase black ant powder online, which can be used as a diet supplement)

If you are not convinced look at this image below, which shows ants being cooked up for a feast in Thailand.

Thailand Red Ant Delicacy

Ants on Bannana Leaves

Are All Ant Species Edible?

There are approximately 12,000 ant species, and almost all ant species can be so-called “Food Ants.” This includes the carpenter ant, sugar ant, weaver ant, grease ant, Pharaoh ant, cornfield ant, pavement ant, honeydew ant, and numerous other species.

The only ant species that you may want to stay away (assuming you have other options) from are ants with a stinger. I.E. Fire ant., as the stinger could irritate your stomach. Additionally certain tiny ant species, like a sugar ant, may not be worth your time collecting.

Why Search For Ants and Not Other Insects?

By all means, to get your protein fix, try gathering grasshoppers, termites, etc. However, unless you have a caterpillar infestation or tons of crickets nearby it will take a very long time for you to collect enough grasshoppers, caterpillars, etc., to feed a single person. Ants though, under most circumstances, can be harvested more easily as you will not need to use or make any fancy ant traps, as all you have to do is the following:

  1. Poke-Place a stick in an ant mound and wait for the ants to crawl up the stick. (Based on instincts, and protecting their queen ant, they’ll climb up the stick)
  2. Shake Them Off-Shake the ants off the stick and put them into either a sanitary container or straight into where you are planning to cook them.
Ant Mound

An Ant Mound and a stick is all that needed

Cooking Them

Ants can be eating raw or cooked. You may though prefer them cooked as an adult ant builds up formic acid, which is used to neutralize ant predators. Formic acid is non-toxic to humans. However, the acid is also known for its sour taste. As a result, to avoid this sour taste, they should be served boiled. But, if you don’t mind the sour taste or don’t have a pot to cook them in, you’ll be fine eating them raw.

TIP-To preven an ant bite as they are slithering down your throat, kill the ant or any other insect before you eat them.

The following is an excellent video that details how to collect and prepare ants for your meal.

Final Thoughts

The Kiss principle (“KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID”) is a rule that you should follow when you are in any outdoor survival situation. This means that you need to get food the most simple way that you are able to first. Ants and other bugs, under most circumstances, are easier to gather than to either hunt or trap, or even fish.

Bugs are a great source of protein and vitamins. So, first, get a meal anyway you can by eating ants or anything else that is edible, and then once that is done and you have some type of nourishment you should then try for something tastier like frogs, a lizard, or other more traditional sources of protein.