Posted: 5/14/2024 | Print Friendly Version

(ST. LOUIS) - On Friday, May 24, the bug experts of the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House will put on their chefs’ hats to cook up some cicada-centric dishes and educate the public on entomophagy – the practice of eating insects.

The Bug Chef will teach guests about the cicadas that have appeared in St. Louis and show how they can be incorporated into two culinary dishes: cicada scampi and spicy deep-fried cicada. The Butterfly House will not be offering cicada tastings during the public demonstrations due to demand, but guests with adventurous tastebuds can try other insect-based snacks and take cicada recipe cards to try at home.

There will be two demonstrations on May 24 - at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Guests are asked to only attend one demonstration so others can come and learn about cicadas. Seating is limited for this event and will be first-come-first-served basis.

“Our goal in cooking insects is not to convert everyone to an insect-centric diet, but to show people that there are other options available,” says the Bug Chef. “If a few people have a more open mind about trying new foods or changing the way they look at what they eat, then that is a win.”

Eating insects may be taboo for local audiences, but the United States is actually in the minority when it comes to regularly incorporating insects into their diet. Approximately 80% of the world’s countries cook with insects, like the fried caterpillars of South Asia and grasshopper tacos of Mexico.

Some benefits of eating insects:

Edible insects are nutritious and healthy

They have a relatively low impact on the environment

They can be raised in areas where traditional farming is not possible

They are surprisingly tasty

“Americans eat many close relatives to insects already without a second thought,” says the Bug Chef. “Water bugs which are fixture of special occasions in other countries are just closely related to lobsters, shrimp and crabs. In fact, if you are allergic to shellfish, you are likely also allergic to cicadas or crickets.”

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The mission of the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House is “to foster a greater understanding of plant and animal relationships in the environment in order to promote the conservation and restoration of natural habitats.” The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House of the Missouri Botanical Garden is located in St. Louis County’s Faust Park at 15050 Faust Park in Chesterfield, Mo. The central feature of the attraction is an 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory where visitors mingle with more than 60 species of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in free flight.