Eating Insects at the Bohart Museum of Entomology

Fact: Eighty percent of the world's population eat insects.

Fact: At least 80 percent of those attending the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on entomophagy ate one or more insects--a cricket, an earthworm or a mealworm. The diners ranged in age from a 9-month-old girl to senior citizens.

Some came back for more--especially the mealworms and earthworms, said Bohart associate Emma Cluff. The crickets? Not so much.

A two-year-old from Dixon happily munched everything given to him. "He'll eat anything," his mother said.

Various companies, including Hotlix, Exo and Chirps Chips, provided the samples.

Besides eating insects, visitors asked questions about entomophagy and handled insects from the petting zoo, which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, and tarantulas.

They also made buttons proclaiming "I Ate a Bug at the Bohart."

A display, titled "Bug Buffet," drew widespread interest: "Have you ever eaten ant pancakes or scorpion scaloppini? Well, eating bugs (entomophagy) is a lot more common than you might think. All round the world, people eat delicious and nutritious insect delicacies."

The dishes mentioned on the display:

  • Locust Biscuits, featuring the brown locust, Locustana pardalina
  • Mexican Caviar, starring the giant water bug, Abedus herberti
  • Termite a la Carte, featuring termites, order Isoptera 
  • Maguey Worm Tacos, with Maguey worms, family Megathymidae
  • Raw Cossid Moths, starring the larvae of the cossid moth, Xyleutes leucomochia
  • Fried Pupae, presenting the pupae of the silkworm moth, Bombix mori

The raw cossid moths? Quite nutritious. The information read: "They are eaten raw by Australian aborigines and supposedly taste like almonds...and they "provide all the calories, protein and fat an adult human needs for one day."

The next Bohart Museum open house, themed Parasitoid Palooza!, is on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. It is free and family friendly. The museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Drive.

"An insect parasitoid is a species whose immatures live off of an insect host, often eating it from the inside out," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart Museum. "It is part of their life cycle and the host generally dies."

The late UC Davis entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), founder of the Bohart Museum, researched Strepsiptera, or twisted-wing parasites, for his doctorate in 1938. Both the Bohart Museum and an entire family of Strepsiptera, the Bohartillidae, are named in his honor.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is home to the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. It also maintains a year-around gift shop, which is stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.

The insect museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or (See list of open houses for the 2019-2020 academic year.)