Audubon Insectarium Prepares Cicada Dishes as Millions Set to Emerge Across U.S.

The Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans plans to serve roasted and fried periodical cicadas as millions emerge across the US this spring, highlighting insects as a sustainable food source amid global food security concerns.

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Audubon Insectarium Prepares Cicada Dishes as Millions Set to Emerge Across U.S.

Audubon Insectarium Prepares Cicada Dishes as Millions Set to Emerge Across U.S.

The Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans is gearing up to serve roasted and fried periodical cicadas as millions of the red-eyed insects are expected to emerge across 16 U.S. states this spring. The insectarium's 'Bug Appetit' cafe, known for its array of insect-based treats, plans to add cicada dishes to its menu.

Zack Lemann, the curator of animal collections at the Audubon Insectarium, has been developing recipes that showcase cicadas as a tasty and nutritious food source. Some of the dishes being considered include a green salad topped with roasted cicadas and fried cicada nymphs seasoned with creole mustard and soy sauce. "Depending on the type and preparation, cooked cicadas can taste similar to toasted seeds or nuts," Lemann explains.

Periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground, emerging every 13 or 17 years to mate and lay eggs. This spring, two large broods are set to surface, with experts predicting an average of 1 million cicadas per acre across hundreds of millions of acres. While often viewed as noisy pests, cicadas have a long history of being consumed as food, appearing in cookbooks and on menus worldwide.

Why this matters: The emergence of trillions of cicadas presents a unique opportunity to highlight the potential of insects as a sustainable and alternative food source. As global food security concerns grow, exploring new and eco-friendly protein sources becomes increasingly important.

The Audubon Insectarium is working diligently to secure legal clearance to serve wild-caught cicadas and is partnering with local sources to ensure a steady supply of the insects. Lemann anticipates that the once-in-a-generation emergence of two cicada broods will pique public interest in entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, and draw visitors to the insectarium. "We expect heightened interest in insects due to the national attention on the cicada emergence, even though the affected area doesn't include southeast Louisiana," Lemann states.

Key Takeaways

  • Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans to serve roasted, fried cicadas this spring.
  • Cicadas are a nutritious food source, tasting similar to toasted seeds or nuts.
  • Trillions of cicadas to emerge across 16 U.S. states, presenting opportunity for sustainable food.
  • Insectarium securing legal clearance to serve wild-caught cicadas, partnering with local sources.
  • Cicada emergence expected to pique public interest in entomophagy (eating insects).