WBEZ | bugs http://www.wbez.org/tags/bugs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EcoMyths: Why eating bugs is good for your health and the environment http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/ecomyths-why-eating-bugs-good-your-health-and-environment-100700 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/XtremeBugs-Chef.jpg" title="Got insectophobia? So did Kate Sackman...until she took the plunge and tried these crunchy crickets. (Courtesy of the Xtreme Bugs chef)" /></div></div><p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77426389"></iframe>What would it taste like to eat a cricket?&nbsp;That&rsquo;s what I wondered recently while watching a mother bird feed its fat, hungry babies.&nbsp;As it happens, Chicago&#39;s Brookfield Zoo has an insect chef serving crickets on the weekends this summer, so I had the chance to find out!</p><p>While at Brookfield&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brookfieldzoo.org/CZS/xtremebugs">Xtreme Bugs exhibit</a>, I tasted crickets prepared two ways: toasted with Cajun spices (tastes like crunchy sunflower seeds) and in sweet banana-cricket pancakes.&nbsp;No legs and no antennae tickled my tongue &ndash; just crunchiness.&nbsp;I could not bring myself to eat the mealy bug larvae cookies.&nbsp;But talking with the chef who prepared the bug delicacies gave me confidence, as she is also a trained entomologist (insect scientist). With her expertise, I knew she would only serve up safe and tasty bug food to a wary public.</p><p>Raising animals, especially cattle, to fulfill the human demand for meat, is costly both financially and environmentally (as explained further in our&nbsp;<a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/myths-explored/">latest EcoMyths article</a>).&nbsp;According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html">livestock now use 30 percent of the earth&rsquo;s entire land surface</a>&rdquo; and are a major source of deforestation around the world.&nbsp;The livestock sector also produces significant levels of greenhouse gases, mostly from manure, including 65 percent of human-produced nitrous oxide, a much more damaging greenhouse gas than even CO2. So, could eating bugs replace some of our craving for meat?&nbsp;We think so.</p><p>Even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/angelina-jolie-and-kids-love-to-eat-crickets.html">Angelina Jolie</a>&nbsp;and her kids enjoy crickets as snack food. So what is holding us back from relying more on insects as a food source?&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ecomyths-bugs mealworm medley.jpg" style="height: 247px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="Yum! Mushroom Mealworm Medley. (Courtesy of the Xtreme Bugs chef)" />For our latest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths</a> segment, we talk about fear and loathing of bugs. Westerners just don&rsquo;t eat bugs like other cultures around the world do.&nbsp;Our fears are based on experiences of biting and stinging, or the perception that bugs are ugly.&nbsp;And we tend to be unaware of the essential role of bugs on our planet.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think they are missing the boat because, really when people learn more about them they discover that bugs are actually really cool and do all sorts of interesting things,&rdquo; says&nbsp;<a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/users/margaret-thayer">Dr. Margaret Thayer</a>, a curator in the Division of Insects in the Field Museum of Natural History&#39;s Zoology Department.&nbsp;And she reminds us that bugs are essential elements of our earthly food chain: &ldquo;If they all suddenly disappeared, everything would collapse.&rdquo;</p><p>Andre Copeland, interpretive programs manager at Brookfield Zoo agrees. &ldquo;Bugs are responsible for aerating soil, pollinating crops, and providing food to many animals.&nbsp; Many vertebrates &ndash; reptiles, birds, and mammals &ndash; wouldn&rsquo;t survive if not for arthropods.&rdquo;</p><p>So, what about humans eating bugs? Well, insects are part of the animal phylum called arthropods, which are all invertebrates that have external skeletons (&ldquo;exoskeletons&rdquo;) and jointed limbs, which includes insects, spiders, and crustaceans.&nbsp; In the U.S. we already eat many arthropods, such as lobster, crab, and crayfish. So we are already happily eating animals closely related to insects. Thayer reminds us that insects are &ldquo;a concentrated source of protein and fat&rdquo; which is why they are such a valuable food source in so many cultures.&nbsp;&ldquo;If you live in a village where termites are flying from a giant mound, thousands of them flying around, you can just pick them up and eat them, or roast them.&rdquo;</p><p>Margaret&rsquo;s words rang in my ears as I crunched the Cajun-spiced crickets at the Zoo last week and asked myself, &ldquo;could I get used to this?&rdquo; If I close my eyes while chewing and block out the visual, I think I actually could.&nbsp;Care to join me for a termite taco?</p></p> Mon, 09 Jul 2012 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/ecomyths-why-eating-bugs-good-your-health-and-environment-100700 Warm March weather means mosquitos come sooner http://www.wbez.org/story/warm-march-weather-means-mosquitos-come-sooner-97250 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-13/22121376_74a795f659_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Those who don't like bugs, beware.</p><p>Entomologists are predicting the sunny and near 70 degree weather could mean mosquitoes and insects are coming much earlier than usual. Dr. Joe Spencer of the Illinois Natural History Survey said the lack of cold weather means bugs can mature faster, allowing them to emerge much sooner than they are normally expected to.</p><p>David Zazra of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District said his team is planning to set traps for mosquitos in April, a month earlier than usual, because of the warm weather.</p><p>"The water that's out there that might have mosquito larva in it isn't cooling down, and slowing things down, so the warmer things stay, and the warmer the water stays, the more potential there is for mosquito breeding," Zazra said.</p><p>Zazra said he's not usually thinking about mosquitoes around this time. He can't recall ever having to prepare before May.</p><p>The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures into the 70s for the rest of this week and next week. Zazra said that could increase the chance of seeing mosquitos sooner, but it doesn't mean there will be more of them than usual.</p><p>Other than being a nusiance, Spencer said the early arrival of insects won't seem too out of the ordinary. He said if temperatures stay up, plant growth will also come much earlier than usual.</p><p>But if there's a cold spell around Easter, Spencer said, like there has been in the past, those mosquitoes won't be coming early any more.</p><p><em>Correction on 03/14/12 at 12:52: An earlier version of this story misspelled Zazra.</em></p></p> Tue, 13 Mar 2012 17:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/warm-march-weather-means-mosquitos-come-sooner-97250