Crickets are one of the most frequently eaten insects. Insects like crickets are opulent in nutrients, mainly protein, and are more viable than other protein sources. They are available as ground cricket powder(65% protein), and pre made bars.
Crickets are most consumed in underdeveloped countries like Latin America, Africa where many people face food insecurity, and other animal protein sources, such as chicken and fish, are rare. People in Western countries aren’t abundantly comfortable consuming insects, according to research, as they recognize insects as unhygienic.
However, as food companies have introduced user-friendly cricket-based goods such as protein powders and protein bars, more people in Europe, the United States, and Canada have tried to embrace cricket intake.
Advantages of eating crickets
Crickets may provide beneficial effects and are a more environmentally friendly and sustainable source of protein than other animal-based protein sources. In fact, according to a 2020 study, most edible bugs contain more protein than more prevalent animal-based protein sources including goat, chicken, and pork. Additionally, it also shows that the human body absorbs cricket protein better than plant-based sources of protein like rice or corn.
Crickets have a thick cuticle that comprises chitin, a difficult-to-digest form of insoluble fiber. This is why the digestibility of cricket protein differs. The digestibility of protein from crickets improves considerably when the exoskeleton is removed.
Cricket protein powder has around 65.5 percent protein, while mature crickets provide 13.2–20.3 grams of protein for each 100-gram serving, as stated by studies. Some cricket species contain all nine essential amino acids in optimal amounts. Others are protein-deficient caused by low quantities of amino acids such as tryptophan and lysine.
The iron level of crickets was found to be 180 percent higher than that of beef in one study. Furthermore, insects contained more calcium and the B vitamin riboflavin than chicken, pork, and beef.
Crickets are high in fiber, a component that is missing in other animal protein sources. As per studies, a 100-gram bowl of crickets can have as much as 13.4% fiber.
Crickets also supply fat, primarily in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These have been related to health benefits in studies, including reduced risk factors for heart disease.
Chitin, an insoluble fiber found in crickets, is beneficial to gut health in several studies. Chitin may work as a prebiotic, encouraging the growth of good bacteria in the intestine.
Although crickets have several possible health benefits, many Western customers are hesitant about cricket-based food products due to safety concerns.
People with allergies to shellfish or dust mites may develop allergic reactions to insects. Some experts accept that insects like crickets can carry diseases that can infect humans and animals.
During the warm months, home crickets will comfortably survive outdoor feasting on plants, bugs, and garbage but may move indoors where, if not banished, they can survive indefinitely.
In many cultures, crickets play a large role in myths and superstitions. They are considered a sign of good luck and intelligence and, more often than not, featured in folklore and literature.
Types of crickets
Scientists have identified and described more than 900 species of crickets.
House crickets: House crickets are gray or tan and are always on the hunt for warm spots where they build their nests. These critters are native to Southeast Asia but have spread to all parts of the world. House crickets can be kept as pets, raised for human food (source of protein), or used as food for other pets. They devour fabrics, dog foods and are fond of fermenting fruits and liquids like vinegar and beer.
Field cricket: They are easily identifiable with their black color and also chirp heavily. Because they dine on vegetation and crops, field crickets live around farm fields, in leaves, mulch, and debris spots near your home. Like other crickets, they exploit holes and cracks to enter homes or even jump through open doors and windows. They feed on grains, seeds, plants, insects, and other natural materials and can be used for food and bait. The good news is that they cannot reproduce in homes.
Cave cricket: Also known as camel cricket, these are crickets resembling a spider because of their long back legs. Unlike other crickets, cave crickets do not have wings and, therefore, do not produce any chirping. They get the name because they comfortably live in deep forests, caves, and damp, dark spots but survive in damp basements. Whilst not having wings, they can jump quite high – about three feet – which scares many people.
Mormon crickets: These crickets appear more like katydid and can grow as much as three inches long. They come in many colors: black, brown, green, and purple and tend to change color depending on their swarming phase. Like most other types, Mormon crickets feed on vegetation and grass.
What do crickets look like?
To most people, crickets look a lot like grasshoppers. Crickets have a predominantly cylindrical and considered a vertically flattened body, rounded head, six powerful hind legs, and very long antennae.
The most common adult field crickets are black and dark brown. On the other side, adult house crickets are light yellowish brown with three dark crossbands on their head.
What attracts crickets?
Despite their small size, crickets crave the same things humans do in an ideal habitat. That said, cricket will be attracted to your campsite for three things: food, shelter, and light. They can find plenty of food on your lawn, garden, and flowerbeds, plus they will hunt insects.
When it is warm outside, crickets will hide under objects like rocks, lumber, or garbage cans and pave stones or among the foliage. During the cold months, when the nighttime temperature drops, crickets start venturing inside homes. The light in your home in night hours is also a major attractant for crickets.
Humans have been eating crickets for hundreds of years because they are a good source of nutrients.