Ethnoentomology – Food

Insects use as sources of food

  • Entomophagy is the practice of consuming insects as food
  • In Malaysia, there are more than 70 ethnics practicing entomophagy expecially during the olden days [1]
  • There are about 57 species of insects known to be consumed as food by several ethnics in Sabah, Malaysia
  • Insects are abundant and some are seasonal in vegetated areas for example cicadas and grasshopper
  1. Cicadas: abundant when their host plant, Pongamia spp. started to produce young shoots [2] [3]
  2. Grasshopper: abundant during the planting season of crops such as padi and are considered as pests [4]

Table 1: List of insects known to be consumed as food in Malaysia by several ethnics

Insect Preparation Region Figure
Grasshopper  Roasted over open fire  Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak  BELALANG
Short horned grasshopper Deep fried  Sabah  SHORTHORNED2
Mole crickets Stir fried without oil Sabah   MOLECRICKETS
Macromoth Wing removed and boiled to dry Sabah MACROMOTH
Sago grub Raw, stir-fried without oil Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak SAGOGRUB
Stick bugs N/A Sabah STICKBUGS
Giant honey bee Honey – drank with fluid, brood eaten Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak HONEYBEE
Weaver ants Adult mixed with chilli and salt, served as condiment, brood taken raw or cook with porridge or rice Sabah, Sarawak WEAVER ANTS
Giant forest ants Use as flavouring Peninsular Malaysia GIANTANTS


  1. Salleh H. The encyclopedia of Malaysia. Peoples and traditions. Archipelago Press; 2007. p. 8.
  2. Durst PB, Johnson DV, Leslie RN, Shono K, editor. Edible forest insects. Forest insects as food: Humans bite back. Proceeding of a workshop on Asia-Pacific resources and their potential for development; 2008 19-21 Feb; Chiang Mai, Thailand: 2010.
  3. Chung AYC, editor. Diversity and sustainable use of insects as source of food in interior Sabah. Proceedings of the 14th Malaysian Forestry Conference, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Forestry in Malaysia: Reinventing human-nature relationships. Sabah Forestry Department: 2007, p. 752-756.
  4. Yusoff I, Khoo KC. Serangga perosak utama: Tanaman di Malaysia.  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, 1989.

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