1.6.2. Insects as feed for domesticated animals

If you do not relish the prospect of eating insects yourself, then perhaps the concept of insects as a protein source for domesticated animals is more acceptable. The nutritive significance of insects as feed for fish, poultry, pigs, and farmgrown mink certainly is recognized in China, where feeding trials have shown that insect-derived diets can be cost-effective alternatives to more conventional fish meal diets. The insects involved are primarily the pupae of silkworms (Bombyx mori) (see Plate 2.1), the larvae and pupae of house flies (Musca domestica), and the larvae of mealworms (Tenebrio molitor). The same or related insects are being used or investigated elsewhere, particularly as poultry or fish feedstock. Silkworm pupae, a by-product of the silk industry, can be used as a high-protein supplement for chickens. In India, poultry are fed the meal that remains after the oil has been extracted from the pupae. Fly larvae fed to chickens can recycle animal manure and the development of a range of insect recycling systems for converting organic wastes into feed supplements is inevitable, given that most organic substances are fed on by one or more insect species.

Clearly, insects can form part of the nutritional base of people and their domesticated animals. Further research is needed and a database with accurate identifications is required to handle biological information. We must know which species we are dealing with in order to make use of information gathered elsewhere on the same or related insects. Data on the nutritional value, seasonal occurrence, host plants, or other dietary needs, and rearing or collecting methods must be collated for all actual or potential food insects. Opportunities for insect food enterprises are numerous, given the immense diversity of insects.

Chapter 1