May 29, 2008

Here's an interesting story about how killer bees could possible spread into other parts of the US because of global warming.

Science News / Killer Bee Colonization

sometime I'll tell you the funny story about killer bees and drones in Virginia Beach. I think it has to be told over a beer.

Also see this story about eating bugs:

"Grilled cicadas are more likely to elicit a “yikes” than a “yum” from most Europeans and North Americans. “But why?” asks Gracer. “Most of these people are happy to eat crab, lobster and shrimp—the ocean equivalent of insects.”

Shrimp, other crustaceans and insects are all arthropods—members of the largest phylum in the animal kingdom. When people appear squeamish about tasting a grasshopper or beetle larva, Gracer points out that despite lobster’s prized status, crustaceans tend to “eat trash and dead things” whereas most insects dine at nature’s salad bars.

A matter of taste

Edible insects fill a rather small niche market in the United States, Gracer concedes. Throughout most of the developing world, by contrast, dining on bugs is not only a time-honored tradition but often a treat.

That’s something biologist Gene R. DeFoliart has explored for 33 years, first as chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s entomology department, and more recently as host of the website. Since retiring 17 years ago, he has been compiling data on entomophagy. His site offers a book-in-progress with 28 chapters.

Westerners tend to consider insect eating a last resort; you choke down bugs only if there’s no chicken or beef available. Throughout the tropics and subtropics, however, certain insects, such as adult termites or various grubs, can be preferred to the flesh of birds, fish or traditional meat animals, DeFoliart has found.

Entomophagy thrives in Mexico, where Ramos-Elorduy has cataloged some 1,700 species that are eaten. Although grasshoppers are especially popular and inexpensive, diners in Mexico’s bigger cities will shell out $25 U.S. for a plate of maguey worms, larvae of the giant butterfly Aegiale hesperiaris, DeFoliart notes.

This reflects the fact that insects “now have a clear place in industrialized societies since chefs of different nationalities cook them in very sophisticated ways,” Ramos-Elorduy contends. In Mexico, she finds that “the great demand is for five-star restaurants.” Small bistros tend to serve insects seasonally, she says, but “the five-stars do it daily.”"
In many regions, however, once-popular entomophagy is waning. Evidence for this shift emerged in Ecuador while entomologist Andrew B.T. Smith of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa and Ecuadorian Aura Paucar-Cabrera of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, were studying the scarab Platycoelia lutescens. For the project, Paucar-Cabrera interviewed 48 residents in and around Quito about this white beetle’s role in the local diet.

Everyone recognized the Andean insect—called catso blanco—as a culinary flavoring. And the 24 people from the rural and urban working classes all said they ate the beetles at least once a year. Some took their entire families out to nearby meadows in late October or early November to catch adult beetles emerging after metamorphosis in the soil. But among the 24 wealthier families and professional adults surveyed, only one admitted trying the beetles. The rest professed no interest in ever doing so.

Similarly, teens and young adults in Kenya’s Luo tribe tend to view eating bugs as so last-century, notes food scientist Francis O. Orech of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne. A Luo himself, Orech recalls eating ants and termites as a child. Now, to interview some 30 Luo about entomophagy, he and a largely Danish group of researchers had to consult people over age 45 to find individuals who still knew where to reliably find bugs, how to catch them and how to prepare them for eating.

Better than beef?

The five species most widely eaten by surveyed Luo were ants, termites and a species of mondo cricket. All were good sources of minerals, but the crickets were the richest and an ant species the poorest, Orech’s group reported in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in 2006.

In fact, the team found that crickets contained more than 1,550 milligrams of iron, 25 milligrams of zinc and 340 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of dry tissue. Traditional cuisines in developing countries often fall short of the global guidelines for these minerals. Based on analyses of Luo-caught insects, just three crickets would provide an individual’s daily iron requirement.

and then you had better check out this page too.

They sell bugs all over the place on the streets of Seoul, silkworm larvae. I should post some pictures of it.

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