Edible Insects of Oaxaca and Mexico

It took a bit of getting used to, but I have acquired a taste for eating bugs, my parents tell me its a sign that I have lived in Mexico too long. The smokey flavor of roasted grasshoppers (chapulínes) calls out to me as I pass by them in the market. Chicatanas, a type of ant, are my favorite edible insects with its flavor reminding me of creamy peanut butter. Worms, well they are still a bit too much for me to eat.

Chapulínes / Grasshoppers

Chapulines with garlic

Chapulínes, grasshoppers in English, usually flavored with lime, salt and chile powder are the most commonly eaten insects in Mexico and are available almost year round. The first time I ate chapulínes, they were served on a salad, used like bacon bits. Chapulínes are commonly eaten as a snack.

Chicatanas / Flying Ants


Chicatanas are leaf-cutter ants in English. One night a year at the beginning of rainy season, swarms of queen ants will leave their nests to establish new colonies. They are attracted to lights, sometimes people will use flood lights to attract them. In the morning after the swarm, people are out in the streets with bags scooping them up. It is also a busy morning for birds. Within a few hours of sunrise, there will not be a chicatana to be found, only a few wings.

Live chicatanas are placed in water until their wings fall off or can be pulled off easily. They are then roasted. Roasted and ground up, they can be added to salsa or can be used in mole. Although they are expensive, they are also great just to snack on. A kilo (2.2 lbs) of dried chicatanas will cost you 1000 pesos (U.S. $55) in 2019. Dried chicatanas are usually available year round.

Gusanos de Maguey / Maguey Worms

Maguey Worms

Gusanos de Maguey or maguey worms can be eaten as a snack. They often are found in mezcal, a type of alcohol made from maguey. The image below of gusanos de maguey in the plastic yellow bucket is not mine and was downloaded from wikipedia.com.

Recommended Links

If you are interested in learning more about Mexican foods, you might want to visit Los Nopales (Prickly Pear) or Mexican Plants and Foods.

Footnotes and Notes

  1. 1. The photo of Gusanos de Maguey in the plastic bucket comes from Wikipedia.com. Photo of Maguey worm. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. Image captured 29 Feb. 2016.

Photo Credits

Photos taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).