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Is eating ants bad?


Entomophagy is the name for eating insects; it might sound unusual to people in the West. However, it is commonly practiced in many countries around the world.

For instance, people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America depend on insects in their daily diets. Some insects are considered a delicacy rather than just an essential food source with vital nutrients.

The most common insects eaten worldwide are caterpillars, bees, wasps, beetles, and ants. Ants provide protein and are an environmentally friendly food source.

In our article, you will learn all you need to know about eating ants and the benefits and potential downsides of eating ants.

Let’s get started!

Can I still eat food with ants in it?

Do not worry about accidentally eating food with ants. They will not harm you if you eat and swallow them, and they are not poisonous.

The human body can break down and digest the ant in the stomach with gastric juices, and the ant will leave the body along with other digested food.

Are they harmful?

Sugar ants are a species that rarely sting unless defending themselves. If Sugar ants do bite, it is too tiny even to notice. If you eat ants and are allergic to Sugar ants, that is a different story.

Do ants spread disease?

An ant is sterile; however, they crawl on debris and worktops containing E. Coli, Salmonella, and Streptococcus, for example. If you eat food, there is a chance ants have crawled over it if it was left out for a while, and you might pick up germs.

Can an ant transfer germs?

An ant can carry and transfer pathogenic and toxic microorganisms that can contaminate food and water. It is possible, although rare to eat food, ants have been on and become sick.

Ant nutrition

An ant is tiny, and it would take around four hundred of them to provide the iron, protein, fiber, fat, and calcium that a human requires.

Is it alright to eat food ants have nibbled on?

Scientific evidence is minimal with regards to eating ants and whether it could be a danger to human health and you would be sick. There have not been any reports about humans dying from eating ants.

Even eating food ants have been on should not make you sick. Ants are sterile and carry antimicrobial agents, making them safer. To be safe, we recommend you throw away food ants have been crawling on.

Most ants are edible; however, large amounts of Formic acid could irritate your stomach if you ate a lot of them.

How do I keep ants off of my food?

  • Ants will swarm around sweet food, bread, and pet food. The best thing to keep ants away is to put food away after use.

  • Clean up crumbs and food debris, and wipe countertops clean if a sweet drink gets spilled; clean the area.

  • Clean jars and bottles of sauce and syrup.

  • Ants will be attracted to the trash, get rid of it, and empty it often. Make sure you have tight-fitting lids on the trash cans.

If you spot ants crawling on worktops, purchase or make a bait station to get rid of them. You need to wait two or three days for them to stop coming into the house.

There are various ways to keep these pests out, but the most straightforward home remedy is to place cinnamon sticks around the kitchen and in your sugar box.

Popular ant dishes consumed worldwide

Insects are an essential food source culturally in many parts of the world. There are many ant species worldwide, but not all tend to be consumed.

Below are some edible ants and the countries that eat ants:

Black ants. Black ants are eaten in Kenya and China.

Weaver ants. They are eaten in India, China, Laos, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Cameroon. Their name comes from the workers weaving leaves with larval silk to make nests.

Leaf-cutting ants. These are very popular in Latin America, for instance, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and Columbia. As their name suggests, they cut leaves to feed fungi that they feed to their larvae.

Honey ants. These are popular with the Indigenous communities in Australia. Their name comes from using their stomachs to store honey, which they feed the colony if food is scarce.

What do Ants Taste Like?

Ants are safe to eat raw. Eating ants will taste sour, tangy, and like citrus. The flavor comes from the Formic acid the ants produce in their body. Roasting ants will remove the vinegar taste. They can also be boiled to neutralize the acid. In some countries, they are fried.

Larvae taste fatty and nutty when cooked. If you want to eat ants cooking, the ants and larvae will kill any bacteria on them.

Insects have as much as three times more protein than a steak, equal in mass. Some manufacturers have produced flour and protein powders made from ground-up bugs. People have been eating bugs in their diet for hundreds of years.

Harvesting ants to eat

Depending on where you are, of course, you will not find any ants and bugs at the North Pole! Look at the ground and look for ants moving; follow them, and hopefully, you will discover their nest.

Now for the harvesting bit and coaxing them out of the nest. Disturbing the nest will cause a swarm outside. Use a stick to disturb the nest, as some species will bite. Some ants may stay on the stick, so you can shake them off into a sealable box ready for consumption.

If you dig into the nest, you will harvest larvae that look a little like rice. They have a better taste and are more nutritious than adult ants. In summer, they will be more plentiful.

Can I eat ants to survive?

Yes, you can. Most ants are safe to eat, but some can bite. Avoid venomous ants, for instance, fire ants. When cooked, a lot of the venom breaks down.

Why Eats Ants to Survive?

Ants make excellent survival food because they are so common. There are over twelve thousand types of ants in the world.

They may be small, but there are so many of them in a super colony that there could be a few million ants.

They are relatively easy to harvest with your hands or a simple tool and can be consumed immediately if needed.

Who should avoid consuming ants?

Do not eat insects if you are allergic to shellfish, chocolate, and dust. If you need to survive, only eat ants as a last resort. Ants can cause a severe allergic reaction like any other food can.

Which ants should I avoid eating?

Eating ant species that are aggressive is not recommended by us. Fire ants bite, and it is painful. Avoid eating an ant with a strong odor; it could be poisonous or taste nasty.

Do not be tempted to eat dead ants you did not kill. They may have been dead for a while, and you do not know how they died. Fresh is best.

Eating ants in urban areas may be contaminated with poison, toxic chemicals, and pollutants. Cooking may not destroy the toxins.

And finally,

Ants are prevalent and are found in large quantities; they are easy to harvest and can be eaten raw or cooked to kill bacteria and parasites.

In this article, we presented methods of harvesting and eating ants; we hope you found Is eating ants bad? Helpful.


Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

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