Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Nutritional Value, Food Ingredients, Chemical and Species Composition of Edible Insects in China

Written By

Weiping Yin, Junna Liu, Huaqing Liu and Biyu Lv

Submitted: October 26th, 2016 Reviewed: June 8th, 2017 Published: October 4th, 2017

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70085

Chapter metrics overview

1,954 Chapter Downloads

View Full Metrics


As the prevailing food cultures, edible insects could be dated back to ancient China. It is becoming clear that insect resource can be mass‐produced in sustainable development food utilization. China could introduce insects into modern western diets. It is a precious resource considering the nutritional value, food ingredients and chemical composition of species. Meanwhile, the edible insects’ consumption also led to a challenge of addressing food security, nature conservation and the erosion of traditional food culture. We summarized the resourceful edible insects containing the nutrition substance, such as essential proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, mineral elements and other functional ingredients with the insect secondary metabolite, including the flavonoids, alkaloids, polysaccharides, hormones and phospholipids, which have high economic value for development and utilization.Based on the history, custom, plasmid resource, production and status of edible insects in China at present, it has been proven that the development of insects food well matches the need for human health in China.


  • edible insects
  • sustainable resource food
  • nutritional value
  • active ingredients with the insect secondary metabolite
  • chemical composition
  • Chinese insect diet

1. Introduction

1.1. Discussing edible insect’s resources value

Insects are most species‐rich resources and one of the largest biological groups in earth organisms. With its wide resources, speed of reproductive growth, lower feed cost, edible insects are an important food source which has immense potential of the development and utilization. The edible insects contain the reasonable structure of nutrition, high nutritional value and numerous functional factors. In addition, the current research results provided a reliable technical support for the large‐scale production and processing of edible insects in factory production. Therefore, edible insects have a very broad prospect as food sustainable resources development in future.

1.2. Human insectivorous history and customs

Though insects actually could be used as the secured and sustainable food, people naturally disgust the pests and have the feeling that they will bring heavy disaster to human beings. Most people will feel incredible even nauseous if they see a person eating insects. Of course, for those who have tasted barbecue locusts’ good things, situation is not so strange. However, in fact, if the history window of mankind is opened, we will find that insects occupy a prominent position in the human diet since the ancient times. Countries around the world in many parts of many societies used to have the habit of eating insects [1]. According to the literature reported, the Middle East people ate desert locusts before the 8th century BC [24]; in ancient Rome, people liked to eat a kind of larva of Cossus cossus orientalisGaede and prompted to insect body hypertrophy using the flour [2]. In addition, the ancient Hebrew people hunt locusts for eating, American Indians ate the locust pest braised in soy sauce, Australian people loved eating cutworms, Africans fed termites, South Americans hobby to ten red ants and the Spanish make worm bean sauce from ant eggs, etc. Even up to now, the locusts have been accustomed to dry and grinded them into flour, baking cookies or bread sharing in Europe. African residents of some place even take ants, termites that make the taste delicious. In southern California and Mexico, American Indians collect a vast number of backstroke eggs in the water for consumption and sale. The blue butterfly Larvae are more popular in the United States and Mexico; their price is expensive and they are the famous rare dishes in restaurant or hotel. The edible insects also have a long history in China. In the third century BC, the emperor’s banquet was made up of cicadas and bees such as Yiluan (ant egg sauce), Huangchong (locust pest), Mifeng (bee) and Chan (cicada), which had been listed as the emperor’s own meat food and the banquet delicacy of aristocratic gatherings. There is a traditional Chinese famous specialty named Eight Jane Cakes from insects fly maggots [3]. In conclusion, the edible insects are rich whether they are in quantity or on people’s table, including their nutritive value and medicinal value. These insects will play a very important role as a sustainable food resources development in the future. Edible insects from all over the world are listed in Table 1.

InsectThe state of edible insectCountries and regionsInsectThe state of edible insectCountries and regions
Locust (including migratory locust etc.)AdultChina, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, IndiaLeafspinner antAdultBurma, Thailand, Australia, Malaysia
Indonesia, America Mexico, Africa, AustraliaHoney antAdult, larvaAmerica, South Ameirica, Mexico
GryllotalpaAdultChina, Japan, Vietnam, ThailandCicadaLarvaChina, Japan, South America, France
Crickets (including oil. Reed big crickets, etc.)Adult, larvaIndonesia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, America, AfricaMayflyAdultChina, Japan, Vietnam, America, Africa
Hawkmoth wormLarva, pupaChina, Africa, Japan, AmericaDragonflyAdult, larvaJapan, Thailand, Indonesia, Africa
Slug mothPupaChina, JapanCaddis wormAdult, larvaJapan
Pine caterpillarsLarva, pupaJapan, North Korea, Australia, Japan, America, MexicoOsmanthus cicada (including negative ducking Rho)AdultChina, Japan, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, America
Noctuidae (cutworm)Larva, pupaJapan, South Africa, Australia, ChinaAspongopusAdultChina, India, Mexico, Africa
Locates the moth (including cordyceps sinensis)PupaJapan, Thailand, Italy, AustraliaStinkbugAdultChina, India, Africa
MaggotsLarvaChina, Japan, Africa, America
Carpenter mothLarvaAfricaMexico
Lappet mothLarvaAfricaEphydridAdult, larvaChina, Japan, Thailand
White mothLarva, pupaJapanCockchaferAdult, larvaAfrica, America, France
Grape wing bug mothsLarvaJapanGermany
BrahmaeidaeLarvaChina, JapanChina, Japan, Thailand
Domain moth (backpack worm)Adult, larvaJapan, MexicoLongicorn beetleLarvaIndonesia, Ceylon, Vietnam, Australia, Africa
Snout moth (including corn moth two group three moth, etc.)Larva, pupaJapanWeevilLarvaIndonesia, India, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Africa, China, Japan, America
PapilionidLarvaJapanThailand, Africa
SkipperLarvaMexicoBuprestid beetleLarvaChina
TermiteQueen ant, AdultChina, Indonesia, IndiaYellow mealwormPupaMexico
Burma, Malaysia, ThailandTiger beetlePupaChina, Japan, Thailand
Australia, Africa, SouthLocust langEgg, adultAustralia, Africa
AmericaPsylla head liceLarva
AntsAdultIndonesia, India, Thailand, Australia, Mexico, AmericaHead lice fleasAdultIndonesia, Vietnam, Africa, Mexico, South America
HydrophilidAdultChina, Japan
BagwormOverwintering larvaeChinaRed current wormOverwintering larvaeChina

Table 1.

Edible insects from all over the world.


2. Development and utilization of edible insects resource

Edible insects can be divided into food insect, drug/medicinal insects and drug dual‐use insects, etc., based on the different insects eaten resources classification. Edible insects are directly for a daily food consumption and the insect has important nutritional value to human to be developed and utilized. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released a report in 2013 called Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security [6]. It outlines the many benefits of eating insects—for human in the entire world. As early as 1980, it was put forward to supplement the human food shortage in the Fifth Latin American congress of Dietitians and Nutritionists, which should regard them that as part of food source insects as human food in many countries has been increasingly apparent at present.

Scientists have found that some insect protein from the red ants, grasshoppers and some of predaceous diving beetle (Dytiscidae)are enough to compete with lean beef.

The protein of adult insect content is rich, significantly higher than that of pork, beef, chicken, fish and eggs. Experts predict that insects will be the third category only after cell raw material and microbial protein sources in future [7]. Insect and spiders would serve equally well as much needed nourishment in the poor regions and as the healthy food choices in developed countries like the US. Insects are a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and mineral content [6]. “Gathering and farming insects can offer employment and cash income either at the household level or in larger industrial‐scale operations.” It could offer work to millions of people around the world. Besides, there is evidence that most of breeding insects produced the harmful greenhouse gases to the environment that may be less than those of livestock [8]. This result will help to decrease the cost of food production, reduce emissions from greenhouse gas. In recent years, along with the progress of modern science and technology, the process technology of the functional food and health‐food markets of edible insects accelerates unprecedentedly in China. For example, concentrated insect protein oral liquid specialized in honey, royal jelly, pollen and propolis, the traditional shellac ash, etc. Insect oils of some are mainly used as the functional fat‐soluble ingredients.

Above all, the insects are most species and biomass great organisms on earth, and their resources arre extremely rich. Moreover, its nutrition structure is reasonable with high nutritional value and many functional constituent; insects thus will be considered as an important food source for the development and utilization with huge potentials. Combined with the existing research results and their advantages of high reproductive growth speed and low feed cost, large‐scale production provides a reliable technical support. The development and utilization of edible insect resources thus has a very broad prospect.


3. The value of nutrition and health benefits of edible insects

According to the records, about 3650 species of the edible insects have been found and used [8]. The advantages of edible insects in the food development, one highlights show, at the beginning of competing namely, already competed from widely distributed, best variety, fast reproduction, high nutritional value, breeding easy and high food conversion rate indistinct development competes for the sustainability in ecosystems and biodiversity. They thus have become an additional source of food with high nutritional value containing rich protein. At the same time, the insects’ food has low fat and low cholesterol with a reasonable structure (less fleshy fiber) easily absorbed, and abundant trace elements, etc. It is, therefore, better than that of meat and eggs. Advances in edible insects as traditional food, nutrient value and healthy function of edible insects, industrialization of insect‐foods were valued fields [9].

The results of research showed that edible insect contains various nutrient elements, such as protein, amino acids, fat, fatty acid, vitamins and mineral elements.

3.1. Edible insect protein

Onincx said “It proves the hypothesis that insects can be a more efficient source of protein, and I definitely believe there is a future for edible insects” [10]. Studies have shown that protein content is not the same for the different insect states. The protein content of adults is the highest, pupa is at second and larvae at the lowest. For wasps, the adult has 71.07%, pupa has 58.59% and a larva has 50.83% of protein content, according to the protein calculations of insects at different ages.

The protein content of different subjects’ insect is not the same either. The Orthoptera is higher than Homoptera, higher than Odonata, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Hemipter, Lepidoptera and then Coleoptera insect [11].

Amino acid is the basic functional unit for biological macromolecular protein, and is also an important part of food constituted as insects’ nutrition. The amino acid content of edible insects is 10–70%, and essential amino acid content is 10–30%. Most of the amino acid ratios for insect are appropriate and have approached or even exceeded that of the WHO/FAO required ratio. Study also revealed that the existence of large amount of free amino acids associated with insect freshness [6, 12]. The content of free amino acid of edible insects in the blood is about 3000–23400 mg/kg that is higher than any other higher animals of the universe.

3.2. Carbohydrate of edible insects

In addition to glucose, triose, glycogen, erythritol, ketose sugar, fructose and ketoheptose, edible insects’ carbohydrates (sugars) sort are very rich and the sea algae sugar (insects’ ingredient blood sugar) content is the same. Edible insects are easy to digest and absorb carbohydrates, and total sugar containing amount is generally as low as 1–10% or even lower [13]. For example, the total sugar content of Cyclopelta parvais 1.45%, and that of Tessaratoma papillosais 0.15% [14].

Chitin is also the main material of edible insects’ skin and bones. Its chemical name is N‐acetyl‐D‐glucosamine copolymer. For a low‐calorie food which it has the very high nutrition value and good for health care with the function of adsorption toxic substances. Chitin promotes intestinal peristalsis, fine regulating intestinal bacteria, reduce weight due to fat, anti‐aging, enhance the immune function and assist in preventive treatment of high blood pressure, etc. Chitin is usually between 15 and 18%, rich in edible insect body. However, at different insect states, chitin content is different, such as the chitin content of dry silkworm pupa is 3.73% and Skim pupa’s content reached 5.55% [3].

3.3. Mineral elements and vitamin of edible insects

Edible insects are rich in mineral elements, including Ca, P, Fe and zinc, etc., which are often needed as the supplement of human body. It is reported that feed insects can fulfill the requirement of animals’ Fe, Cu, Zn and Mg mineral elements [15]. The locusts contain 27 kinds of mineral elements, notably Mn, Fe, Cu and Zn [16]. Many ants are rich in Zn, Se, Mn and Mg, etc. The level of Zn is two times more than pork liver, and eight times higher than soybean [17]. In addition to the constant element, edible insects are rich in Se, Co, Ni and Cd trace elements. The Chinese rice locust and yellow powder insect have Se content at 4.62 and 4.75 mg/kg,respectively. The Se element can accelerate detoxification, inhibit carcinogenic activity, destroy the carcinogen and prevent cancer cell growth and division. Other elements’ content, such as Ni 1.22 mg/g, Co 1.36 mg/g and Cr 1.52 mg/g are reported in Formica (Coptoformica) mesasiaticaDlussky [3].

There are numerous vitamins in insect body, mainly including vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), C, D, E, K and carotene. Macrotermes annandaleicontains vitamin A 25.0, vitamin D 85.4 and vitamin E 11.7 I.U./g (International Unit/g). Vitamins are essential substances for maintaining normal physiological function of human body.

3.4. Lipid substances of edible insects

Insects are rich in oil and lipids. The fat content of pupae and larvae is higher than the adult insect. Report shows a decline in fat content after feather state of the insect. Fat content is commonly between 10 and 50% for edible insects. A recent study has found the fat content of wasp. In larvae, the fat content is 29.01%, while in pupae, it is 27.25% and in adults, it is for 17.22% [10]. Unsaturated fatty acid and palmitic acid are higher in edible insects. Among them, linolenic acid content is higher in Lepidoptera, and the oil acid content is higher in Coleoptera.

Related research also proved the variation in fat content for different species of insects. It is revealed that the fat content of Coleoptera is higher than that of Lepidoptera, Half wings, Hymenoptera, Odonata, Diptera and Orthoptera [19]. In fact, natural insect wax also contains a small amount of senior fatty acids. They can be used as pharmaceutical raw materials such as textile and stencil making model. Based on the infrared spectra analysis of insect wax, it was suggested that insect’s wax is composed of mainly long‐chain hydrocarbons, fatty alcohols, fatty acids and some compounds with aromatic rings mixture.


4. The nutritional evaluation of insect oil/fat

Insect oils (fat) are a kind of nutrient substances with several physiological and biological activities and functions. It has a high value of research, development and utilization no matter whatever be the quantity or quality. Fat content of insects’ body changes with its life cycle, meanwhile it is closely related to the growing up of the insect species.

4.1. The oils and fats content in insects’ body

Many studies have also displayed that the fat content of insects differed in the same species. The pupa and larva’s oils (fat) were higher than adults’ in the same species. And, during the winter period, the insects’ oil contents were higher. The fat content of insects’ dry body was commonly 10%, while many other insects have fat content of 30%, or even up to 77.16% (Table 2).

Insect speciesCrude fat %Insect speciesCrude fat %Insect speciesCrude fat %
Locatesmoth larvae77.17Desert locust17Bollwormlarvae49.48
Asian corn borerlarvae46.08The big spot well‐known14.5
Clanis bilineata15.44Verdigris beetlelarvae14.05Aprioma germari Hope41.46
Moths’ larva32.26stratiomyiid13.93
Mylabris cichorii13.96Yellow mealwormadult19.23Pink neck sawyerlarve35.89
Tussahmale adult39.49Oxya chinensis8.24Musca domesticapupa10.55
Cabbage worm11.8Polyrhachis vicinafemale9.5Tussahpupa31.25
Tenebrio molitorL28.8–34.0Holotrichia oblitaFald29.84Redchestprickly ant adult8.53
Polyrhachis vicinaadult8.57Houseflylarvae12.61Convex starflowers beetle larvae19.35
Macrotermes annandalei28.3Star longhornbeetle larvae35.19Green hsuwell‐known7.5
Epicauta chinensis8.22Atractomorpha sinensis2.87–4.91Tussah cicadalarva2.63
Wood stupidworm26.46
Acrida cinerea2.89

Table 2.

Crude fat (dry weight) content (%) of some insects.

4.2. Fatty acid composition of insect oils and fats

Insects are rich in fat and their fatty acid composition is reasonable. The saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acid ratio of edible insect is generally less than 0.4. Its partial fatty acid composition ratio is close to the fatty acid composition of fish proportion, and thus can be used as a natural health care product. The saturated fatty acids (SFA) of insects is mostly composed of the palmitic acid (C16:0) but not stearic acid (C18:0) which is relatively high in vertebrates. In addition, insect oil has the odd number carbon fatty acids rarely existing as the pentadecanoic acid and heptadecanoic acid that are relatively rare in the nature but extremely common in insects. As shown in Table 2, the heptadecanoic acid content of termites’ adult, the housefly larvae and housefly adults were all above 2%. As odd number carbon fatty acid has special raw active function, it was found that they have stronger antitumor activity. Therefore, many researchers are very interested in insects’ enrichment and separation of odd number carbon fatty acids, leading a hotspot in the research of the insect oil.

The insect oil is a solvent of natural active products containing the lecithin and fat‐soluble D raw element (such as vitamin A, D, E). These active natural products have a strong physiological and biological function with the extremely important value.

4.3. The nutrition evaluation of insect oils

The fatty acid of insect oil and fats predominantly composes of unsaturated fatty acid and its proportion could be more than 60%, and can even reach up to 80% in some insects. The fatty acid of insect oil and fats predominantly composes of unsaturated fatty acid. And, its proportion could be more than 60%, and can even reach up to 80% in some insects. The fatty acid composition of some of the insects’ oil and fats is shown in Table 3.

Composition of fatty acid
Larvae of Tenebrio molitor0.510.9923.
House fly larvae2.
House fly adult3.50.515.
House fly pupa0.
Silkworm pupa30.07.525.610.926.0
The termites adult0.

Table 3.

The fatty acid composition of some of insects’ oil and fats (%).

Among the unsaturated fatty acids (USFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) of insects, many oleic acid (C18:1) is a unique composition with the proportion at about 30 ± 10% or more. This is much close to fish food and better than poultry meat and eggs. It is good for the health of human body. The bioactive mechanism of insects’ fatty acid has been studied in the body and has proven the exact functional fatty acids physiological activity. It pointed out that the high linoleic acid content in certain insects has a close relationship with its strong reproductive functions. Research indicated that stearic acid could neutralize the nutritional effects, and the lauric acid (C12:0) and nutmeg acid (C14:0) can lead to the elevated level of the fatty acid of cholesterol. These kinds of saturated fatty acids (SFA) are low in insect oil.

Nutritionists believe that general proportion between the n‐3 and n‐6 (PUFA) should be based on the breast for 1:3–10 [21]. According to the best food and nutritional science, linoleic acid and linolenic acid are the essential fatty acids (EFA). These two kinds of fatty acids are obtained only from food directly. In case EFA is lacking, the oil should be restricted to oil’s fatty acid with the low biological titer, and nutritional value is thus low. It can directly cause the growth retardation, reproductive barriers, skin damage (such as a skin rash), liver, kidney, nerve and visual diseases. The over‐taken polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUSFA) can cause chronic hazards. Therefore, the world health organization (WHO) recommended a standard of food oil in adults, the recommended dietary fatty acids taken (1990) are produced by the percentage of the total energy, energy and food: fat 15–30%, of them SFA < 10, PUFA 3–7 [21].

In a word, insects have the characters of quick propagation, high content of fat composed of reasonable composition of fatty acids. They are thus a good edible oil resource with high quality.


5. The secondary metabolites of edible insects and potential medicinal substances

At present, the research showed that the insect secondary metabolite is important sources of new drug lead compounds. Arthropod natural products with insect constituent are structurally diverse, including compounds derived from fatty acid, polyketide, terpenoid, nucleoside and amino acid pathways. However, the biosynthesis of most of these compounds has not been studied in detail (Figure 1) [22]. Historically, traditional use of plants as medicines, known as “ethnobotany”, has been extensively recognized and studied. It is worth noting that insects have been utilized as medicines in diverse cultures, especially in traditional Chinese medicines. It may be valuable for the development of the useful drugs. Another ongoing investigation by our group was the searching of new antibacterial structure from insects’ natural products. More modern studies designed to determine the medicinal properties of isolated chemical components from insects and other arthropods will be performed.

Figure 1.

Examples of arthropod natural products from spiders (1, 4), mites (6), ants (5, 7, 10), fireflies (3), termites (7), grasshoppers (9), and beetles (2, 8, 11, 12).


6. Edible insects in China

According to the results of the survey, edible insect resources have been reported for more than 283 species with subspecies, involving 13 orders, 71 families in China [23]. Among them, the Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera account for the majority number. Though most of the species have not been reported, the quantity of edible species identified is still growing. For this purpose, the author studied more than 283 species and subspecies of the edible insects in China. We recorded them as follows with * marked for the first‐time report. China’s edible insect species and their edible insects were discussed as follows:

  1. Ephemerida

    The order includes two families of the larva of Ephemerellidae and Ephemerella jinghongensisXu et al.

  2. Odonata

    The order includes four families of Aeshnidae, Gomphidae, Libellulidae and Lestidae.

    1. *Aeschnidae

      The larva of *Anax parthenope juliusBrauer.

    2. Gomphidae

      The larva of Gomphus cuneatusNeedham.

    3. Libelluidae

      1. The larva of CrocothemisserviliaDrury.

      2. The larva of *Orthetrum albistylumSelys.

      3. The larva of *Orthetrum triangula remelaniaSelys.

      4. The larva of *Pantala flavescensFabricius.

      5. The larva of *Sympetrum uniformeSelys.

    4. Lestidae

      The larva of Lestes praemorsaSel.

  3. Blattodea

    The order includes two families of Blattidae and Corydiidae.

    1. Blattidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Periplaneta americanaL.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Periplaneta australasiaeL.

    2. Corydiidae

      The nymphal/adult of Eupolyphaga sinensisWalker.

  4. Mantodea

    The order has only the Mantidae familie.

    1. The nymphal/adult of Mantis religiosaL.

    2. The nymphal/adult of Paratenodera sinensisSaussure.

    3. The nymphal/adult of Statilia maculataThunberg.

    4. The nymphal/adult of Tenodero bravicoBeier.

    5. The nymphal/adult of Tenodero sinensisSaussure.

  5. Isoptera

    The order includes two families of Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae.

    1. Rhinotermitidae

      The larva/nest/adult of Coptotermes formosanusShiraki.

    2. Termitidae

      1. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes acrocephalusPing.

      2. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes annandaleiSlivestri.

      3. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes barneyiLight.

      4. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes denticulatusLietPing.

      5. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes jinhongensisPingetLi.

      6. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes menglongensisHan.

      7. The larva/nest/adult of Macrotermes yunnanensisHan.

      8. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes angusti gnathusTsaietChen.

      9. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes annulicornisXiaetFan.

      10. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes conignathusXiaetFan.

      11. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes formosanusShiraki.

      12. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes foveafronsXiaetFan.

      13. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes gravelyiSilvestri.

      14. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes hainanensisLight.

      15. The larva/nest/adult of Odontotermes yunnanensisTsaietChen.

  6. Orthoptera

    The order includes four families of Acridiidae, Gryllidae, Gryllotalpidae and Tettigoniidae.

    1. Acridiidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Acrida chinensisWestwood.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Acrida. oxycephalaPallas.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Acrida. turritaL.

      4. The nymphal/adult of Arcyptera fuscaPall.

      5. The nymphal/adult of Atractomorpha sinensisBoliver.

      6. The nymphal/adult of Bryodema gebleriFisherWaldheim

      7. The nymphal/adult of Calliptamus abbreviatusIkonn.

      8. The nymphal/adult of Calliptamus italicusL.

      9. The nymphal/adult of Calliptamus barbaruscephalatesFisherWaldheim

      10. The nymphal/adult of Ceracris kiangsuTsai.

      11. The nymphal/adult of Chondracris roseaDeGeer.

      12. The nymphal/adult of Dociostaurus kraussini grogeniculatusTar.

      13. The nymphal/adult of Gomphocerus sibiricusL.

      14. The nymphal/adult of Locusta migratoria manilensisMeyen.

      15. The nymphal/adult of Locusta migratoria migratoriaL.

      16. The nymphal/adult of Oedaleus decorusGerm.

      17. The nymphal/adult of Oxya chinensisThunberg.

      18. The nymphal/adult of Oxya intericataStal.

      19. The nymphal/adult of Oxya japonicaThunberg.

      20. The nymphal/adult of Pararcyptera micropteraFisherWaldheim.

      21. The nymphal/adult of Patanga japonicaBolivar.

      22. The nymphal/adult of Skirakiacris shirakiiBolivar.

      23. The nymphal/adult of Sphingonotusspp.

      24. The nymphal/adult of Stauroderus scalarisFisherWaldheim.

    2. Gryllidae

      1. The adult of Brachytrupes portentosusL.

      2. The adult of Gryllulus bimaculatusDeGeer

      3. The adult of Gryllulus chinensisWeber

      4. The adult of Gryllulus testaceusWalker

      5. The nymphal/adult of Teleoqzyllus derelictusGorochov.

      6. The nymphal/adult of Tarbinskiellus portentosus(Lichtenstern).

    3. Gryllotalpidae

      1. The adult of Gryllotalpa africanaPalisotde Beauvojs.

      2. The adult of Gryllotalpa orientalisBurmeister.

      3. The adult of Gryllotalpa unispinaSaussure.

    4. Tettigoniidae

      The nymphal/adult of Damalacantha vacca sinicaB. Bienko.

  7. Homoptera

    The order includes five families of Cicadidae, Coccidae, Flatidae, Membracidae and Pseudococcidae.

    1. Cicadidae

      1. The nymphal of Cicada flammataDist.

      2. The nymphal of Cryptotympana atrataFabr.

      3. The nymphal of Platypleura kaempferiFabr.

    2. Coccidae

      The egg/adult of Ericerus pelaChavanness.

    3. Flatidae

      The nymphal of Lawana imitataMelichar.

    4. Membracidae

      The nymphal/adult of Darthula hardwickiGray.

    5. Pseudococcidae

      The nymphal of Phenacoccus prunicolaBorchs.

  8. Hemiptera

    The order includes five families of Belostomatidae、Coreidae、Corixidae、Noronectidae and Pentatomidae.

    1. Belostomatidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Kirkaldgia degrolleiVuillefro.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Lethocerus indicusLepeletieret Serville.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Sphaerodema rusticaFabricius.

    2. Coreidae

      The nymphal/adult of Mictis tenebrosaFabricius.

    3. Corixidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Micromecta quadrisetaLundblad.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Sigara substriataUhler.

    4. Noronectidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Anisops fieberiKirkaldy.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Enithares sinicaStal.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Notonecta chinensisFallou.

    5. Pentatomidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Coridicus chinensisDallas.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Cyclopelta parvaDistant.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Erthesina fulloThunberg.

      4. The nymphal/adult of Eurostus validusDallas.

      5. The nymphal/adult of Eusthenes curpreusWestwood.

      6. The nymphal/adult of Eusthenes saevusStal.

      7. The nymphal/adult of Nezara viridulaL.

      8. The nymphal/adult of Tessara toma papillosaDrury.

  9. Coleoptera

    The order includes 15 families of Anobiidae, Bruchidae, Buprestidae, Cerambycidae, Crioceridae, Curculionidae, Dynastidae, Dytiscidae, Getoniidae, Hydrophilidae, Melolonthidae, Rutelidae, Scarabaeidae, Scolytidae and Tenebrionidae.

    1. Anobiidae

      The nymphal of Lasioedrma serricorneFabricius.

    2. Bruchidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Bruchus pisorumL.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Bruchus rufimanusBoheman.

    3. Buprestidae

      1. The nymphal of Chalcophora yunnanaFairmaire.

      2. The nymphal of Coraebus sidaeKerremans.

      3. The nymphal of Coraebus sauteriOben.

      4. The nymphal of Sphenoptera kozloviB. Jak.

    4. Cerambycidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Anoplophora chinensisForster.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Anoplophora nobilisGanglbauer.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Apriona germariHope.

      4. The nymphal/adult of Aromia bungiiFaldermann.

      5. The nymphal/adult of Stromatium longicorneNewman.

      6. The nymphal/adult of Psacothea hilarisPascoe.

    5. Crioceridae

      The nymphal/adult of Sagra femorata purpureaLichtenstein.

    6. Curculionidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Cyrtotrachelus buguetiGuer.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Cyrtotrachelus longimanusFabricius.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Macrochirus longipesDrury.

      4. The nymphal/adult of Otidognathus davidisFabricius.

    7. Dynastidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Allomyrina dichotomaL.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Oryctes rhinocerosL.

    8. Dytiscidae

      1. The adult of Cybister japonicusSharp.

      2. The adult of Cybister. limbatusFabricius.

      3. The adult of Cybister ripunctatusOlivier.

      4. The adult of Eretes stictiusL.

    9. Getoniidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Dicranocephalus wallichi bowringiPascoe.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Oxycetonia jucundaFaldermann.

      3. The nymphal/adult of Protaetia aerataErichson.

    10. Hydrophilidae

      1. The adult of Hydrophilus acuminatusMotsch.

      2. The adult of Hydrous acuminatusMotsch.

      3. The adult of Hydrous hastatusHerbst.

    11. Melolonthidae

      1. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia diomphaliaBates.

      2. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia lataBrenske

      3. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia oblitaFaldermann.

      4. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia ovataChang.

      5. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia parallelaMotsch.

      6. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia sinensisHope.

      7. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia srobiculataBrenske.

      8. The nymphal/adult of Holotrichia szechuanensisChang.

      9. The nymphal/adult of Polyphylla laticollisLewis.

    12. Rutelidae

      The nymphal/adult of Anomala corpulentaMots.

    13. Scarabaeidae

      The nymphal/adult of CatharsiusmolossusL.

    14. Scolytidae

      1. The nymphal of Sphaerotrypes yunnanensisTsaiet Yin.

      2. The nymphal of Tomicus piniperdL.

      3. The nymphal of Xyleborus emarginatusEichhoff

    15. Tenebrionidae

      1. The nymphal/pupa of TenebriomolitorL.

      2. The nymphal/pupa of Tenebriomolitor obscurusFeb.

      3. The nymphal/pupa of Tribolium confusumJac.du Val.

  10. Megaloptera

    The order has only the Corydalidae family.

    The nymphal of Acanthacoryda lisorientalisMclachlan.

  11. Lepidoptera

    The order includes twenty‐one families of Hesperiidae、Papilionidae et al.

    1. Hesperiidae

      1. The pupa of Erionota torusEvans.

      2. The pupa of Parnara guttataBremeret Gray.

    2. Papilionidae

      1. The pupa of Papilio machaonL.

      2. The pupa of Papilio polytesL.

      3. The pupa of Papilio xuthusL.

    3. Pieridae

      The pupa of Pieris rapaeL.

    4. Satyridae

      The pupa of Mycalesis gotomaMoore.

    5. Aegeriidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Paranth reneregalisButler.

      2. The larva/pupa of Parathene tabaniformisL.

    6. Bombycidae

      1. The pupa of Andraca bipunctataWalker.

      2. Silkworm chrysalis and silk moth of Bombyx moriL.

      3. The pupa of Theophila mandarinaMoore.

    7. Carposinidae

      The pupa of Carposina niponensisWalsingham.

    8. Cossidae

      1. The larva of Cossus chinesisRothschild

      2. The larva of Cossus cossusL.

      3. The larva of Cossus hunanensisDaniel.

    9. Eucleidae

      1. The pupa of Cania bilineataWalke.

      2. The pupa of Thosea sinensisWalker.

    10. Gelechiidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Pectionophora gossyeillaSaunders.

      2. The larva/pupa of Platyedra gossypiellaSaunders.

    11. Geometridae

      The larva/pupa of Biston marginataMatsmura.

    12. Hepialidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Hepialus albipictusYang.

      2. The larva/pupa of Hepialus altaicolaWang.

      3. The larva/pupa of Hepialus armoricanusOberthur.

      4. The larva/pupa of Hepialus baimaensisLiang.

      5. The larva/pupa of Hepialus cingulatusYang et Zhang.

      6. The larva/pupa of Hepialus deudiPoujade.

      7. The larva/pupa of Hepialus deqinensisLiang.

      8. The larva/pupa of Hepialus dongyuensisLiang.

      9. The larva/pupa of Hepialus ferrugineusLi, Yang et Shen.

      10. The larva/pupa of Hepialus gannaHubner.

      11. The larva/pupa of Hepialus gonggaensisFuetHuang.

      12. The larva/pupa of Hepialus jinshaensisYang.

      13. The larva/pupa of Hepialus kangdingensisChu et Wang.

      14. The larva/pupa of Hepialus kangdingroidesChu et Wang.

      15. The larva/pupa of Hepialus lijiangensisChu et Wang.

      16. The larva/pupa of Hepialus litangensisLiang.

      17. The larva/pupa of Hepialus luquensisYang et Yang.

      18. The larva/pupa of Hepialus macilentusLversmann.

      19. The larva/pupa of Hepialus markamensisYang, Li et Shen.

      20. The larva/pupa of Hepialus meiliensisLiang.

      21. The larva/pupa of Hepialus menyuanensisChu et Wang.

      22. The larva/pupa of Hepialus nebulosusAlpheraky.

      23. The larva/pupa of Hepialus oblifurcusChu et Wang.

      24. The larva/pupa of Hepialus pratensisYang.

      25. The larva/pupa of Hepialus renzhiensisYang.

      26. The larva/pupa of Hepialus H.sichuanusChu et Wang.

      27. The larva/pupa of Hepialus variansStaudinger.

      28. The larva/pupa of Hepialus xunhuaensisYang et Yang.

      29. The larva/pupa of Hepialus yeriensisLiang.

      30. The larva/pupa of Hepialus yulongensisLiang.

      31. The larva/pupa of Hepialus yunlongensisChu et Wang.

      32. The larva/pupa of Hepialus yunnanensisYang et Li.

      33. The larva/pupa of Hepialus yushuensisChu et Wang.

      34. The larva/pupa of Hepialus zhangmoensisChu et Wang.

      35. The larva/pupa of Hepialus zhayuensisChu et Wang.

      36. The larva/pupa of Hepialus.zhongzhiensisLiang.

      37. The larva/pupa of Napialus hunanensisChu et Wang.

    13. Lasiocampidae

      1. The adult/pupa of Dendrolimus houiLajonquiere.

      2. The adult/pupa of Dendrolimus kikuchiiMatsumura.

      3. The adult/pupa of Dendrolimus punctatusWalker.

      4. The adult/pupa of Dendrolimus punctatus wenshanensisTsai et Liu.

      5. The adult/pupa of Dendrolimus superansButler.

    14. Noctuidae

      1. The pupa of Agrotis ipsilonPottemberg.

      2. The pupa of Anomis flavaFabr.

      3. The pupa of Heliothis armigeraHubner.

      4. The pupa of Hydrillodes morosaButler.

      5. The pupa of Laphygma exiguaHubner.

      6. The pupa of Leucania separataWalker.

      7. The pupa of Naranga aenescensMoore.

      8. The pupa of Prodenia lituraFabr.

      9. The larva/pupa of Sesamia inferensWalker.

    15. Notodontidae

      1. The adult/pupa of Leucodonta bicoloriaDenis et Schiffermuller.

      2. The adult/pupa of Notodonta dembowskiiOberthuer.

      3. The adult/pupa of Phalera assimilisBremer et Gray.

      4. The adult/pupa of Phalera bucephalaL.

      5. The adult/pupa of Semidonta bilobaOberthuer.

    16. Psychidae

      The larve/pupa of Psychidaespp.

    17. Pyralidae

      1. Insect tea of larva feces for Aglossa dimidiataHaworth.

      2. The larva/pupa of Chilo suppressalisWalker.

      3. The larva of Chilo fuscidentalisHampson.

      4. The larva/pupa of Chilosp. (English named, Bamboo maggots)

      5. The pupa of Cnaphalocrocism edinalisGuenée.

      6. The pupa of Dichocrocis punctiferalisGuenée.

      7. The larva/pupa of Ostrinia furnalisGuenée.

      8. The pupa of Plodia interpunctellaHubner.

      9. The pupa of Sylepta derogataFabr.

      10. The larva/pupa of Tryporyza incertulasWalker.

    18. Saturniidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Antheraea pernyiGeurin.

      2. The larva/pupa of Philosamia cynthiaDrury.

    19. Sphingidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Clanis bilineataWalker.

      2. The larva/pupa of Clanis deucalionWalker.

      3. The larva/pupa of Herse convolvuliL.

      4. The larva/pupa of Smerithus plannusWalker.

    20. Tortrcidae

      The pupa of Leguminivora glycinivorellaMatsumura.

    21. Xyloryctidae

      1. The pupa of Linoclostis gonatiasMeyrick.

      2. The pupa of Xyloryctidaespp.

  12. Diptera

    The order includes three familie of Muscidae、Sarcophagidge and Tipulidae.

    1. Muscidae

      The egg/larva of Musca domesticaL.

    2. Sarcophagidge

      The larva of Sarcophagidaespp.

    3. Tipulidae

      The larva of Tipula paltudosaMeig.

  13. Hymenoptera

    The order includes seven families of Agaonidae、Apidae、Polistidae、Sco1iidae、Sphecidae、Vespidae and Formicidae.

    1. Agaonidae

      The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Blastophaga pumilaeHill.

    2. Apidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Apis ceranaFabricius.

      2. The larva/pupa of Apis melliferaL.

      3. The larva/pupa of Bombus speciosusSmith.

      4. The larva/pupa of Megapis dorsataFabricius.

      5. The larva/pupa of Megapis floraeFabricius.

    3. Polistidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Polistes antenalisPerez.

      2. The larva/pupa of Polistes chinensisFabricius.

      3. The larva/pupa of Polistes gigasKirby.

      4. The larva/pupa of Polistes hebraeusFabricius.

      5. The larva/pupa of Polistes mandarimnusSaussure.

      6. The larva/pupa of Polistes.sagittariusSassuer.

      7. The larva/pupa of Polistes salcatusSmith.

    4. Sco1iidae

      The larva/pupat of Scoliidaespp.

    5. Sphecidae

      The larva/pupat of Sphecidaespp.

    6. Vespidae

      1. The larva/pupa of Provespa barthelemyiBuysson.

      2. The larva/pupa of Vespa analisBuysson.

      3. The larva/pupa of Vespa basalisSmith.

      4. The larva/pupa of Vespa bicolor bicolorFabricius.

      5. The larva/pupa of Vespa crabroL.

      6. The larva/pupa of Vespa ducalisSmith.

      7. The larva/pupa of Vespa mandariniaSmith.

      8. The larva/pupa of Vespa sorrorBuysson.

      9. The larva/pupa of Vespa tropica ducalisSmith.

      10. The larva/pupa of Vespa variabilisBuysson.

      11. The larva/pupa of Vespa velutina aurariaSmith.

      12. The larva/pupa of Vespaspp.

    7. Formicidae

      1. The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Camponotus japonicusMayer.

      2. The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Carebara lignataWestwood.

      3. The larva/pupa of Formica rufaL.

      4. The larva/pupa of Formica aquiloniaYarrow.

      5. The larva/pupa of Formica beijingensisWu.

      6. The larva/pupa of Formica fuscaL.

      7. The larva/pupa of Formica japonicaMottschulsky.

      8. The larva/pupa of Formica sanguineaLatr.

      9. The larva/pupa of Formica uralensisRuzsky.

      10. The larva/pupa of Formica yessensisForel.

      11. The larva/pupa of Lasius flavusFabricius.

      12. The larva/pupa of Oecophylla smaragdinaFabricius.

      13. The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Polyrhachis divesSmith.

      14. The larva/pupa of Polyrhachis illaudataWalker.

      15. The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Polyrhachis lamellidensSmith.

      16. The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Polyrhachis vicinaRoger.

      17. The egg/larva/pupa/adult of Tetramorium caespitumL.


7. Insectivorous culture as sustainable development of food in China

China has a long insectivorous culture and important insect food resources. The characteristics of insect diversity and high nutritional value promise the great potentials to utilize these precious resources. At present, the development and utilization of China’s edible insects are mainly in two aspects: the insect dishes and insect protein products.

7.1. Insect dishes in China quickens your appetite

Chinese insect dishes and foods often include traditional and innovative ways of two eating, such as oil silkworm chrysalis, Cicada Fried Crispy Fried locust Lang, Chinese caterpillar fungus duck and Tremella silkworm chrysalis, etc. Also, the insects could be used as ingredients for bread, insect drinks and wine. Edible insects can also be processed into insect nutrients liquid and health products as the main raw materials that are currently fashionable gifts to share for human health. And, most of this kind of products in China are listed as follows: the enzyme hydrolyzation of honeybee pupa protein and honeybee pupa drink; Royal Jelly Capsules, Royal jelly cream and Royal jelly powder; Drone pupa wine, Gekko‐drone wine which is prepared with Gekko, drone pupa, Lycium chinense and rice wine and through twice soaking.Tussah pupa protein nutrition solution; Amino acid drink of yellow powder insect caterpillar protein; Amino acid drink of sweet potato hawkmoth canned; Soy sauce of silkworm chrysalis; Dry bread cake of silkworm chrysalis protein; Silk protein beverage and jelly, silkworm moth oil and wine, etc. In addition, the raw materials of nutritional health products used more ants as well, which will satisfy the demands of treating different diseases like tracheitis, active chronic gastritis, dysmenorrhea, psychoneurosis, pulmonary tuberculosis, alopeci and impotence, etc.

7.2. The development of insect protein products in China

The fly pupae are mainly used as raw material to develop traditional curative food and make the high protein food through processing. These research works currently focus on the development and utilization of several kinds of insects: flies, locust, cicadas and silkworms and so on. Then, this kind of eating insects is rich in protein, which can be compared to other foods such as meat and eggs. They can, not only solve the food shortage, but also food crisis of global food inequality in the near future.

Extensive and profound Chinese food culture is glamorous. The miracle of insectivorous culture refers to a gorgeous art of diet culture treasure in China. At once, as one of the most urgent tasks in the development and utilization of insects, edible insects can be converted to a steady stream of elegant food dedicated to all humanity.


  1. 1. José M, Murosa S, Barroso FG, et al. Insect meal as renewable source of food for animal feeding: A review. Journal of Cleaner Production. 2013;4:1‐43
  2. 2. Defoliart GR. Insects as food: Why the western attitude is important. Annual Review of Entomology. 1999;44:21‐50
  3. 3. Zhou ZH, Yang W, Xu DP, et al. Analysis of resource value of edible insect. Science and Technology of Food Industry. 2014;17:390‐394 (in Chinese)
  4. 4. Bodenheimer FS. Insects as Human Food. The Hague, Netherlands: Junk Publishers; 1951
  5. 5. Gullan PJ, Cranston PS. The Insects: An Outline of Entomology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd; 2004. pp. 1‐584
  6. 6. Huis AV, Itterbeeck JV, Klunder H, et al. Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2013. pp. 67‐80
  7. 7. Klunder HC, Rooijackers WJ, Korpela JM, et al. Microbiological aspects of processing and storage of insects. Food Control. 2012;26:628‐631
  8. 8. Shockley M, Dossey AT. Mass Production of Beneficial Organisms’ Invertebrates and Entomopathogens. USA: Academic Press; 2014. pp. 617‐652
  9. 9. Rumpold BA, Schlüter OK. Potential and challenges of insects as an innovative source for food and feed production. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies. 2013;17:1‐11
  10. 10. Deng ZB, Yang W, Yang CP, et al. Nutrition analysis and evaluation from wasps. Acta Nutrimenta Sinica. 2013;35(5):514‐515 (in Chinese)
  11. 11. Wen LZ. Nutrition of edible insects in Mexico. Entomological Knowledge. 1998;35(1):58‐61 (in Chinese)
  12. 12. Huang Q, Zhou ZJ, Zhou DG, et al. Nutritional analysis of seven species of insects. Acta Nutrimenta Sinica. 2007;29(1):94‐96 (in Chinese)
  13. 13. DeFoliart GR. Encyclopedia of Insects. 2nd ed. USA: Academic Press; 2009. pp. 376‐381
  14. 14. Feng Y, Chen XM, Wang SY, et al. Common edible insects and nutritional value from Hemiptera. Forest Research. 2000;13:608‐612 (in Chinese)
  15. 15. Barker D, Fitzpatrick MP, Dierenfeld ES. Nutrient composition of selected whole. Invertebrates Zoo Biology. 1998;17:123‐134
  16. 16. Oliveira JS, de Carvalho JP, de Sousa RF, et al. The nutritional value of four species of insets consumed in Angola. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 1976;5:91‐97
  17. 17. Rong BX, Gan SY. Ants and preparation of trace element analysis. Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs. 1987;18:47‐49 (in Chinese)
  18. 18. Jiang SJ. Chinese Medicinal Insects’ Integration. Beijing: China Forestry Publishing House; 1999. pp. 9‐13 (in Chinese)
  19. 19. Wen LZ. Edible Entomology Principle and Application. Changsha: Hunan Science and Technology Press; 1998. pp. 71‐146 (in Chinese)
  20. 20. Liu XG, Ju XR, Wang HF, et al. Insect oil and its nourishment appraisement. Journal of the Chinese Cereals and Oils Association. 2003;6:11‐13
  21. 21. Xu JP. Food Nutrition and Health. University of Science and Technology of China Press; 2002
  22. 22. Matthew G, Schroeder FC. Insect Natural Products. Elsevier Ltd; 2010. pp. 67‐103
  23. 23. Chen XM, Feng Y. China’s Edible Insects. Beijing: China Science and Technology Press; 1999

Written By

Weiping Yin, Junna Liu, Huaqing Liu and Biyu Lv

Submitted: October 26th, 2016 Reviewed: June 8th, 2017 Published: October 4th, 2017