How Long Can You Survive On Insects?

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You can survive only three weeks without food. While eating insects might not be the most ideal thing one can do, it is proven that in a survival situation that eating bugs can keep you alive. The real struggle is the amount you’d need to consume, plus the idea of not knowing if you have an allergy to one of them. But the major question many might have is simply, how long can you survive on insects?

Most experts would say that if you eat enough to make yourself feel full or half-full, you could survive for several months to even several years. Like with your normal diet, you need to eat enough bugs or insects to sustain yourself.

The issue in all of this is that you still need to eat enough to survive. Therefore, only having a few would truly not help much. The reason one can last a long time on edible bugs mostly comes down to the protein they provide. Some insects are packed with it, and humans obviously need protein to maintain their health.

This can be an issue for pure vegetarians, who have to get protein from other places beyond most fruits and vegetables. Animal meat is also packed heavily with protein, which is why most humans eat it. Vegetarians do not, so they have to get it through other sources such as nuts, beans, grains, etc.

Insects are not the most common choice, but it is nothing new for humans to eat them. In fact, they are in most of the food we eat. The United States Federal Food & Drug Administration claims we eat up to 2 pounds of bugs every year without knowing it!

Native Tribes Survived On Bugs For Centuries

Thousands of years ago, we figured out that animals provide a better source of food to our human bodies. However, that meant having to catch them. This was when humanity made weaponry and traps, as a way to catch our food. Yet if you were out of fruits and vegetables, you had to eat something else.

Insects were a prime, easy choice because they are quite abundant and easy to find all over the world. There are millions of edible bugs in just a small area, so when it comes to easy food options…insects were obviously useful.

This led them to eat the grubs and it turned out to be pretty common. As time went on, tribes did not have to eat insects as often. Yet in times when they could not kill enough animals to sustain themselves, they went right back to insects.

This worked out well due to the protein provided, and due to the lack of major disease at the time…life expectancy was not affected by this. Meaning one could rely on insects as a food source for an extended period without many health complications.

You Need To Eat The Right Insects, However

One of the most common mistakes people made, and some still do today, was the idea of eating bugs that carried diseases. This resulted in numerous problems that could lead to death. Due to the fact that you do not want to die, at least, we’d hope you don’t…it’s important to know which ones to eat or ignore.

Among those to ignore are insects such as:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Ticks
  • Flies
  • Gnats
  • Wasps

While we’re at it, also try to avoid eating Centipedes, Scorpions, and Spiders. No, they are not insects but just steer clear of them. They often use poison to kill potential prey. This might not be a big issue for some tribal people who develop immunities to such things. The average person, however? It could be deadly.

As a good rule, it is smart to avoid other insects that are brightly colored, have fine hairs, as well as those with eight or more legs. Some are okay but many are not, so just steer clear of them all just to be safe. You’re better off playing it safe here, for sure.

In places like the Amazon Rainforest, information like this can be a major thing. There are several insects, anthropods, and other species that can be deadly for human beings to consume, even native tribes to the region.

There are others such as bees that are technically safe to consume after they are cooked. However, this is only after you remove their stinger and poison sack. In spite of their safety, they can be quite dangerous to catch and are not recommended food sources as a result.

There are also some other insects, such as the Jewel Wasp, that carry deadly pathogens. This is why it is always good to know of any animal species that might be present in your location before you go somewhere. In particular, always know of the insect population and what is common there.

The Most Common Insects To Consume Worldwide


There are a ton of insects you can find worldwide that are not only safe to eat but incredibly common. In some locations, you might see specific types of insects only native to that region. Meanwhile, in other locations, you’ll see insects that are common all over but the specific type is only located in some sectors.

Regardless of what that might be, the most common insects you’ll see that are generally safe to consume in a survival situation includes:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Termites
  • Beetles
  • Ants
  • Caterpillars
  • Stink Bugs
  • Slugs and Snails
  • Maggots
  • Worms (mostly the Earthworm & Mealworm)

There are even more than this that are edible as well, so be sure to check into the ones in your specific area to learn about each one.

While we did reference how flies were not great to consume due to their potential for spreading disease, there are some such as Dragonflies that are usually not dangerous to eat. You’ll also be pretty safe to eat insect larvae. That includes those from flies.

The general rule here is to take these on a case-by-case basis and take your location into consideration. Are you in a place where these insects are known to carry a deadly disease at all? If so, don’t eat those insects. If not, you’re likely pretty safe.

General Rule Before Eating Insects

While they might be a good source of protein, they do not offer enough alone to usually give you enough to sustain yourself. You’ll need to be sure to gather up a lot of them, as the more you have the better your chances of survival will be.

Once you know the type you can and cannot eat, any bug you pick to consume will be safe to consume whole. The only exception to this rule is that you need to remove the head of most insects as well as any potential area where poison might develop from. That’s if they are poisonous at all.

From here, and this is the most important thing to remember, ALWAYS cook your insects before eating them. Just like with most meat you eat, insects can make you sick if eaten raw. This is not always needed, of course. However, you need to get in the habit of doing it with ALL insects rather than just a few you KNOW will need it.

Moreover, it makes it easier for newbies to consume insects when they are cooked instead of eaten raw. You can burn them and they’ll just taste like something that’s burnt. This will take away any possible nasty insect taste. However, you’d be surprised how many insects actually taste perfectly fine.

In some places, they are served in 5-Star Restaurants. Award-Winning Chef David Faure decided to experiment with insect dishes over a decade ago in France. It went so well, he made entire insect menus in his fine-dining establishment.

Other European eateries have since gone with this method to great success. Of course, some such as Michelin, the people behind the important “Michelin Star(s),” are not fond of this and revoke stars for places that have insects on the menu. Yet customers seem to love the stuff!

Why not be like a fine-diner today and go out to the backyard and grab some insects to eat for dinner tonight?

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