Six-legged livestock? Edible insects for global health

Two hands are open, holding nearly two dozen flying ants.

Mantingeni/Mafulefute - A handful of flying ants, which are edible, captured by village children.

Most Americans think of insects as pests, vectors of disease, or perhaps pollinators. But for millions of people across the globe, insects are also an important part of the diet. While the concept of eating insects—also called entomophagy—may seem foreign in the West, it has been practiced by humans throughout history; more than 2100 edible species have been documented to-date. Edible insects are nutrient-dense and also offer environmental benefits over traditional livestock.

Valerie Stull, postdoctoral research associate at the Global Health Institute, presents the January 29 Global Health Tuesday seminar at 4:30 p.m. in Room 1010 in the Medical Sciences Center. She will explore new research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tackling the environmental, social, and health implications of using insects as “mini-livestock.” Edible insects have the potential to promote both human and planetary health, but many unknowns remain. Read more about Stull’s work with insects.

In the photo above, children hold edible flying ants they collected.