Heteroptera True Bugs

Family Belostomatidae (Giant Water Bugs)

A giant water bug, Lethocerus indicus, is widely eaten in Southeast Asia and is especially popular in Thailand, where it is known as ma-lang-da-na. The bugs are 5 to 8 cm in length and fierce predators on frogs, large insects, and small fish. They are caught using nets or at lights, to which they are attracted. There are many methods of preparation, including roasting, frying, steaming, and grilling. After cooking they may be pounded and used for flavoring sauces and curries. The males secrete a fragrant liquid from two abdominal glands and are made into a much-prized sauce to accompany meat and fish. In the markets, males sell for three or four times the price for females. Artificial water bug flavoring is now produced, but people still prefer to eat the real bugs.

Imported bugs (known as mangda) from Thailand and extracts of the bug (known as "mangdana essence") can be found in Southeast Asian food shops in California. They are popular with Thai and Laotian customers who use them to make a bug paste called nam prik mangda prepared by mashing a whole bug with salt, sugar, garlic, shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, and hot Thai capsicum peppers. The nam prik mangda is commonly used as a vegetable dip and as a topping for cooked rice. The extracts known as mangdana essence can be used as a substitute for a whole bug in the preparation of nam prik mangda, but they are considered inferior in taste to that prepared from a whole bug.

Families Corixidae (Water Boatmen) and Notonectidae (Backswimmers)

The famous Mexican "caviar," also known as ahuahutle, is composed of the eggs of several species in these families. These insects formerly bred in tremendous numbers in the alkaline lakes of central Mexico and were the basis of aquatic farming for centuries. Lake water pollution has now reduced their numbers. The eggs are harvested by what amounts to setting oviposition trap lines. Bundles of shore grass are tied together and weighted with a stone and then distributed by canoe. They are left in place for about 3 weeks during which the adult bugs swim up and lay their eggs on the submerged grass. The bundles are then collected, brought to shore, and dried in the sun. When dry, they are shaken and the eggs fall off. The "caviar" is a true delicacy that appears on the menus of the finest restaurants in Mexico.

Bee Keeping

Bee Keeping

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