Saturday 12 September 2015

It’s a bug’s life … or not …

... saving itself from extinction, appearing as a magnificent rainbow jewel 175 million years later, or humans’ thinking ah! this would make a good meal …

Matrix Opal c/o National Opals, Australia

Bugs are incredible, and together with the natural earth, keep this world in balance, which is more than can be said for the Anthropocene epoch.

Nothophantes Horridus – yes, more commonly called the Horrid Ground-Weaver – an extremely rare species of spider in the family Linyphidae (sheet weavers or money spiders).

Goldcrest love Sheet Weavers
Etymology gives this little bug its name: from the Greek words ‘notho’, meaning spurious, and ‘hyphantes’, which means weaver, and the Latin ‘horridus’, which means … not horrid! … but bristly.

Anyways … it is very rare and has only recently (1989) been found in a microscopic area of Plymouth, Devon,  less than one kilometre square - whereupon its environmental friends called this endangered species ‘to action’:   as evidence that a housing development in a quarry should not go ahead:  the Planning Inspector upheld the bug’s right to exist.

A fossilised Belemoidea
The next is a Belemoidea, which has raised its pretty little head after life in the Jurassic era – about 175 million years ago.

They are an extinct group of marine cephalopod  (being millions of years old I guess that’d they'd be extinct?!) – but very similar to squid and closely related to the modern cuttlefish.

This particular bug has had a chequered life … seen by marine dinosaurs in Australia’s vast inland sea, before the sea regressed.  At that time the weather was erratic and very acidic – the effects caused silica-rich gel to become trapped in the earth.  Over time the silica solidified to form opals.

The Virgin Rainbow Opal

This Virgin Rainbow Opal was found in the Coober Pedy district of Western Australia – “The Opal Capital of the World”.  It has been secured for the South Australian Museum in Adelaide.

Coober Pedy

Not knowing the area at all … I was interested to see that Coober Pedy lies on the Adelaide to Alice Springs road and on to Darwin – I’ve taught myself a bit of geography here.

We are running out food … well so they say … and we’ve always constantly looked at other alternatives of food sources … how about bugs?  Australia has them … Balmain Bugs – I always liked the look of these slippery lobsters – a food to be enjoyed.

Balmain Bug

Some of these aren't bugs ... buttttt .......... I enjoyed writing about them!

Balmain Bug, Prawn, Squid, etc

A lot of us won’t eat bugs … just the thought of scrunching down a creepy crawly sends shivers down our spines.  They’re not unhealthy; they’re often quite tasty and loaded with the sort of nutritious good stuff dietary professionals love.

Sooner or later we’re probably going to have to get over our apprehensions and embrace these remarkably efficient sources of protein. 

Served at a pub near you ... 

Let us eat worms, we already eat snails … the American Army Survival Handbook, I see, tells you (not me!) how to catch worms, clean (purge) them and then you can eat them raw.

Late 1800s ad
But remember we used to despise oysters – the poor man’s food … and those bugs the lobsters despised by American coastal dwellers, but beloved by the train passengers (good to eat) and railroad bosses (cheap to provide).

Now there’s the Wild Food School in Lostwithiel, Cornwall – which provides Entompohagy Courses – new word?!  Yes for me too … but here they show us that eating insects is de riguer in many parts of the world ...

So let’s embrace bugs … for their use, their balance of life, and for the beauty they might provide in a quarter of a billion years ahead!

Here are some links … that might amuse and tell more of their story:

Finest Opal Ever c/o The Jewellery Judge 

Big Think on Eating Bugs

How Lobster Got Fancy c/o PSMag 

Wild Food School: Edible Insects and Bugs

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've watched the show Bizarre Foods often enough to know I will probably never eat a bug. I don't even like lobster. I don;t like my food looking at me.
Wonder if that sheet weaver spider will survive?

Out on the prairie said...

Many already eat those little critters. I have tried a few, but will stick to my diet as is.

Denise Covey said...

Love this buggy post. I see Australia, specifically Coober Pedy and the Balmain Bug, got a mention. We also have Moreton Bay Bugs which are delicious to eat (seafood). Our indigenous people eat a lot of bugs. They can survive easily in the bush on what we call 'bush tucker'. Yummy little bugs offer life without supermarkets. :-)

Mason Canyon said...

I'm not going to say that I will never eat a bug (or worm) because at some point in my life that might be the only way to survive, but until - no thanks. I don't think I could try one just for the fun of it, unless I didn't know what I was eating. In that case, I wouldn't want to know what it was until the next day then it would be too late to get sick from it. :)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

It's easy to see shrimp and lobster as large insects of the sea but somehow that doesn't put me off eating them as a delicious delicacy! I ate chocolate covered ants once to shock my mother when I was young, and because the ants were blended with more chocolate than insect. But grubs, snails, worms ugh!!! Don't think I could do it.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I'm trying to get on board with the bugs, but you know how I feel about them. However, I'm soooo glad your back at your blog.

Mike Goad said...

I certainly like shrimp and lobsters. However, unless there is some sort of catastrophe, I don't think I'll see the need for eating bugs in my lifetime. Food production per capita has been rising for several decades in the developed world. The key, of course, is that continued agricultural improvement must be sustainable -- improvement at the expense of the land's (soil) health and the ecosystem is not acceptable.

Manzanita said...

So many people say they won't eat a bug or worm but we are
already playing host to many of the uninvited. That thought
alone, makes me squeamish. Good awareness, Hilary and
In the end, I imagine we all would do/eat whatever it takes to
survive. The survival instinct is very strong.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I remember reading somewhere that lobsters used to be despised as a poor man's food. Times do change!

But I still don't think I could bring myself to eat a fried spider or grasshopper, even if they are delicacies in other countries.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex - I love all foods .. though haven't eaten many bugs ... except inadvertently. I do love all seafood ... and I'm sure once I'd eaten one bug I'd happily eat lots more.

I hope the sheet weaver spider will survive - I should think with it being monitored I would expect it has a pretty good chance. But we could discover more of them ...

@ Denise - yup .. I just loved that Opal and as it comes from Opal City - a place I'd love to visit .. seeing the underground workings and museum - it must be amazing.

I love shellfish .. so I'd be very happy in Aus - hence the Balmain bug mention. As in Africa the indigenous peoples eat a lot of bugs - as they do in Asia I see. Bush tucker would suit me ... and being without a supermarket (for a while!) wouldn't be a bad thing ...

@ Mason - yes I think we'd all eat them if it meant survival or not: I'd definitely try one, or varieties .. but have yet to venture in that direction.

@ Karen - it's interesting what we will eat isn't it ... I happily ate snails in the 60s ... so I'm sure I'd do the same now ... not too sure about the worms though!

@ Teresa - yes I know you and your backyard - no bugs there please! Oh - thank you so much re the welcome back ..

@ Mike - those army worms were put in for you! The media is always giving us the negative pitch ... so I'm sure we'll have enough food - and we do ring the changes.

Here - there's too much foraging going on ... for commercial profit or a quick buck: that's not sustainable ... we do need to protect our land and realise we need to put back - composting etc ...

@ Karen - love snails, and little fish and shellfish .. but I know many people who can't face them, so do understand.

@ Manzanita - as you so rightly say we are playing host to masses of bugs and perhaps don't realise that we do eat some already. It's interesting to read/ have experienced how our habits have changed since the War ... especially over here. Some things we're surprised that we even consider eating them .. snails and frogs' legs to name two ...

Survival would be a necessity ... no time to be squeamish.

@ Dianne - yes Oysters and Lobsters both ... poor man's food to becoming wealthy (richer) man's food - both so delicious. I'm sure with a lot of others around ... we'd join in and thoroughly enjoy those delicacies.

Cheers everyone - funny how much fun it is to be back and thanks for commenting - Hilary

Bossy Betty said...

I am not quite sure I am ready to eat those little guys, but I do enjoy hearing about them!

Jo said...

I have Oz friends who love Morecombe Bay bugs, but they are rather like lobsters anyway. Lobster, I adore, and used to eat a lot of it in the UK until one winter ('67 I think) the salt water froze all around Britain and the lobsters went 'deep' to avoid the ice. Every after they became cost prohibitive so not something I get to eat very often any more.

I wasn't quite clear, are you saying opals are formed from fossilised bugs. I love opals. The Virgin Rainbow is absolutely beautiful.

The Aboriginals eat big fat bugs which are still alive and seem to enjoy them as a delicacy.

D.G. Hudson said...

Our younger daughter tasted some type of 'bug' in Mexico. I have such a touchy stomach, I don't think I could if I knew what it was. . .I can't even stomach some vegetables (stewed okra for instance) I have eaten escargot, but I don't go looking for it. In the future I think I'd prefer 'space food' or yeast derivatives (fave scifi alternatives)

Opals are nice, but I prefer clear stones like rubies, and emeralds, pirate booty, you know.

Elephant's Child said...

I am fascinated by bugs. They are often incredibly beautiful, and their survival adaptations incredible. I could do without the bitey or sucky ones though.
Have you seen any pictures of our 'peacock spiders'? I would love to see one of these tiny gems somewhere other than the screen.

Diana Wilder said...

So glad you're back, Hilary!
I dislike worms on general principle. However, I have an open mind...
The 'food channel' here in the States had a commercial showing a husband and wife visiting an African village and staring, appalled, at a bowl of Mopani worms. (Nasty looking huge grubs). A husband and wife from the village smiled and indicated in their language that the others should try, eat!

The husband tried one of the worms, turned to his wife and said, "Call me crazy, but this tastes like honey barbecue chicken!" And he smiled and nodded at the other couple.

In the next scene, the African couple were visiting the other couple in the States, at a backyard barbecue. They were frowning askance at a plate of chicken pieces. The American husband said "Eat! It's Good!"

The African husband took a bite, looked at his wife, and said (in an African language, with subtitles) "Call me crazy, but these taste like Mopani worms!" and he nodded to the other.

Perhaps it will be so for me.

Inger said...

Hello Hilary, from the Queen to the bugs, it is a joy to have you back!

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. I have eaten Balmain Bugs in Melbourne where they are known as Moreton Bay Bugs. They are a delicious lobster-like treat! I think that by the next century, possibly sooner, insect-based food will become a staple food for much of the planets population but of course the those crustacean 'bugs' are nothing to do with the other kind.
This was a really interesting read - as always.
By the way, your second illustration is of a Goldcrest, not a Goldfinch.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Rhonda Albom said...

I think I could eat bugs, but I draw the line at raw worms. That Belemoidea is really interesting, and leaves quite a beautiful fossil. Welcome back :)

Rhonda Albom said...

I think I could eat bugs, but I draw the line at raw worms. That Belemoidea is really interesting, and leaves quite a beautiful fossil. Welcome back :)

Empty Nest Insider said...

I read somewhere that many of us eat bugs while we're sleeping and don't even realize it. Ugh! I still make a face when I eat certain vegetables, so no bugs for me. Glad you're back, Hilary!


Patsy said...

Bugs are fascinating. As a gardener I like some of them a lot more than others, but they probably all have a part to play in keeping our world going.

I don't doubt some make healthy eating, but I think I'll stick the the veggies they're found on, if you don't mind.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Betty - it's good to see you around again .. and am glad the post gave you a few smiles ..

@ Jo - Morecambe Bay bugs I've read about .. but have never eaten one. I agree about lobsters, though we guzzled crabs in Cornwall - from the local crabbery. Your freezing coast I'd have said was in 62/63 - the terrible winter which I wrote about .. the sea did seriously freeze then.

No - the silica and change in conditions over the millennia meant the shells of the fossils filled and ultimately as we find them now fossilised as opals. I contracted the explanation somewhat ... more can be found!

I know indigenous peoples know what to eat ... they are talking about farming insects etc ... still we shall see!

@ DG - I completely agree with you re Okra ... Snails I'd eat more often, but I've sort of don't eat garlic that often now. Space food - oh gosh .. I couldn't do that - I really need to eat food! But interesting to think about.

Yes I love looking at opals .. they are so pretty ... but also the clear stones are special aren't they .. rubies, emeralds, sapphires ... pirate booty is a good thought.

@ EC - the are incredible creatures aren't they ... I wish I knew more about them ... and how they adapt quite quickly to changing conditions - and yes mozzies I'd rather weren't around!

The peacock spiders are unique (endemic) to Australia ... those tectonic plates allowed us to have separate habitats on islands, nations, country, continents ... very unique and shows us what a wonderful world we live in. I'm sure you could find out from a museum where a colony can be found .. and check them out - if they are within reach of where you live!

@ Diana - fascinating story .. I love stories like that - and so true I'm sure ... I never tried Mopane worms when I lived in South Africa ... I'm sure I should have given them a go.

I'm sure we could acclimatize ourselves to eating bugs and insects .. not so sure I could be the first, but I'd give them a try .. as others have mentioned survival kicks in.

@ Inger - thank you for calling in ... I know you'd enjoy hearing about the Queen in my previous post ... and thank you - I hope you enjoy the future posts.

@ Bazza - thanks re the Goldcrest ... I suspect and hope it was a mistype - I've corrected the caption! Appreciate letting me know ...

I've never been to Australia - one day I hope. They look delicious ... that was why they called to me! I do enjoy seafood.

Yes I'm sure we'll all be eating insects etc ... and what other changes will happen as the century ahead unfolds. Glad you enjoyed it.

@ Rhonda - yes that raw worm snippet was a bit revolting ... just glad I'm not in the American army! The way the opals are formed give us beautiful stones ... glad you enjoyed the post - thanks.

@ Julie - oooh I haven't read about eating bugs while I sleep .. but I wouldn't be surprised ... there's millions of microscopic ones around that we don't see ... so I'm sure they'd find a way into our bodies ... I think I'll leave that at that! Thankfully I enjoy veggie - not sure about Okra as I mentioned above ... so with food - my nose rarely gets turned up!

@ Patsy - I'm sure you see a lot more into bugs, than many of us non-gardeners ... and as you mention they all have a part to play in the balance of life.

Thankfully for the moment we can continue to enjoy our veggies - and your allotment must be amazing to have ...

Thanks everyone - so lovely to see you all ... cheers Hilary

A Cuban In London said...

As usual, a most interesting post. My culinary habits will not be changing any time soon, mind you... :-)

Greetings from London.

Vallypee said...

Fascinating, Hilary. I remember being enthralled by all the bugs we saw in the Namib desert. I'd never seen anything like the, We still have so much to learn! As for eating them, I'll wait until it's really necessary...let's try and save the beautiful ones for last!

Sue McPeak said...

My goodness, Hilary, here you have gotten into 'It's a Bugs Life' post...and so interesting, too. No purposefully eating them...except the sea faring ones, I do incorporate their images in jewelry, drawing, weaving and other artistic endeavors. Many are quite beautiful as you have pointed out and others inspiration for creative minds! I like your new 'Bloggy Look'. Well done!
Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

New Release Books said...

Hi Hilary!

I came over from Denise's to say hello!

New Release Books said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nas said...

Interesting post as always Hilary. I loved the info I get from all your posts, thanks for sharing!

Betsy Brock said...

Well cool is that about the opals!
And that little Gold Crest sure caught my eye! Aw.

Stephen Tremp said...

Hi Hilary, I see your posting again! Glad to see you back. And I think people will be eating bugs real soon. It only makes sense and a great source of protein. So many people are starving and this is an economical solution that makes sense.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ ACIL - I expect there are some places in London that sell bugs and insects to eat (other than chocolate fun ones) ... but I'm probably like you - I'll wait til I need to eat them.

@ Val - yes the Namib has an amazing variety of bugs and critters - always somewhat surprising to find them in a desert ... but life has a way of adapting to its habitat. I rather wish I'd tried some when I was out in South Africa. Sadly we need to save them all ... and keep that balance of life ... we seem to latch onto something and destroy their habitat, or denude the area of them: as wild mushrooms now here in the New Forest.

@ Sue - yes I'm like you .. I eat the sea-faring ones .. but I'm sure in due time I'll be eating the others. It's great you can get inspiration for your crafts from the bug world too .. they are amazing. My blog look is very basic - I couldn't fathom it beyond this: one day ... I prefer it simple anyway thankfully!

@ New Releases - thanks for coming by - good to meet you.

@ Nas - thanks so much and I'm delighted you enjoy the postings that I share and snippets of information ...

@ Betsy - I'm glad you like the opals ... I found that Rainbow Opal quite amazing. Ah - I'm glad the little Goldcrest caught your eye ... as I'd expect from your postings about your birds around your home.

@ Stephen - yes I'm back - completely unprepared, except in my head! So will be pot-lucking my way through. I agree ... many already do eat bugs, and there are areas where they are investigating farming insects to supplement the local food sources. It does make sense doesn't it ... and we'll eat anything to survive.

Thanks so much to you all for coming over and commenting - it's good to be back ... have good weeks - cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think I'd have to be pretty darn hungry to eat a bug! :) Starving, maybe. But I also don't even really eat much meat, so I guess this follows that same thought.

Always such interesting info here, Hilary! So glad you're back.

H. R. Sinclair said...

I made a mistake and looked up that spider. It's creepy! If the bugs were dead and deep fried, I could do it. I've seen those people who eat them live--not me.

Gooooolly, those opals are gorgeous.

Lynn said...

I just don't think I could eat bugs - oh my. And I don't eat oysters - raw or cooked. I'm too finicky, I guess. :)

Bish Denham said...

I've always said I'd try most anything at least once before forming an opinion. Let's not forget that John the Baptist ate locusts and honey. I hear tell they're pretty good!

I think we eat more bugs than we realize....

Sherry Ellis said...

Bugs are certainly everywhere. We have our fair share down here in Georgia. That cow sign saying, "Eat more bugs" is cute, but I certainly hope we don't have to resort to that!

Chrys Fey said...

Belemoidea looks like it would've been an interesting critter.

That opal is beautiful! And that is one big lobster. Yum! ;) A lobster is about the only bug I could eat. lol And I've never had a snail.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I do eat lobster but otherwise, I don't care for the bug thing. Gives me the creeps but who knows what one would do if really hungry.

Susan Says

cleemckenzie said...

I might manage the deep fried bug, but raw would take starvation. Loved the image of the Virgin Opal. That was a beauty!

As always my visit was hugely fun and informative.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I have always thought that the first person to eat a lobster had to have been very, very hungry. Who would look at a lobster without knowing it and say: "Hey that looks like good eating?" LOL

Sara said...

First of all, I love the decorating you've been doing. The new layout is wonderful and so easy to read.

Now, on the subject of bugs and opals and food. It is fascinating the things we thought we'd never eat. In my case, snails or escargot. But I did. I survived and absolutely love them now. So, bug eating in concept sounds pretty bad, but I'd probably give it a try.

That opal is beautiful. It makes me think of something from outer space and someone will find a way to "turn it on." Now, whether that's a good thing or not is to be seen:~)

I hope all is well with you:~)

Paula said...

I'd have to be mighty hungry to eat bugs. Hope that NEVER happens. Thanks for educating me today!!

Tammy Theriault said...

Hmmmm... They look so delicious?? Hahaha!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth – I’d definitely eat bugs if they were part of the meal, but I haven’t been out looking to eat them. I eat lots of fish and occasionally have a meal with some meat. Thanks for the welcome back.

@ Holly – that’s why I didn’t put a photo in .. thought the Goldcrest was more pleasurable for those with arachnophobia! I guess eating bugs is similar to when we first ate oysters millennia ago … we watch what we can eat and then sample things. Aren’t the opals amazing – I do love them.

@ Lynn – I’ve been lucky and have always tried things and enjoy oysters … just haven’t gone out of my way to eat bugs – yet!

@ Bish – yes locusts have often been used as an example of a food source … the Bible gives us quite a few examples. Honey flavoured would suit me! You are probably right .. we eat more bugs than we realise – mostly because we can’t see them, I suspect!

@ Sherry – I’m sure you’ve lots in Georgia … insects and bugs are plentiful. I loved that sign too …

@ Chrys – the Belemoidea shows us how little has changed over time … the cuttle fish and squid still look similar. Fossils here in the UK too … are of a similar ilk. The opal is stunning isn’t it – just incredible … so I had to post. I’d love one of those Balmain bugs for supper … just have to wait!

@ Susan – like you I love lobsters … I’m sure I’d adapt to eating bugs and probably adopt eating them, and certainly would if that was the only food around … I’m sure we’d all adapt to make sure we wouldn’t starve.

@ Lee – I think I agree … I’d have to be starving to eat a raw bug … but I’d be so exhausted after catching one – I’d eat anything I guess. Isn’t the opal just beautiful. Glad you enjoyed the visit.

@ Roland – lobsters would be ok … but it took a while before we realised lobsters were much more palatable if we cooked them live and then immediately served them. While your comment about who would think about eating them … goes for oysters too … I expect because they were on the shore line and easily accessible. It’s interesting how we got to eat what we do.

@ Sara – thanks re the layout etc … it was a change, but I’d like to do more … but techie isn’t really my scene. Glad it’s easy to read – that’s what I wanted.

I love snails … and I’m sure I’d eat other bugs if they were on the menu – and they will be. I remember eating one of my father’s very very expensive oysters as a teenager – he was somewhat upset that I enjoyed them!

I couldn’t resist putting the opal and its history (so ancient) into the post – just wonderful to see. Well we could always do a story from your ‘wand’ of opal and outer space …

All well here – thank you …

@ Paula – I suspect we’d all fall into that category … we’d eat them (the bugs) if we had to …

@ Tammy – yes I expect there’d be a few hmmms! I think they look delicious?!

Thanks to you all for coming by – so appreciate your commenting … cheers Hilary

Julie Flanders said...

I can't deny the thought of eating a bug makes me want to be sick LOL. But I feel the same way about lobsters. I can't bear the thought of eating any shellfish. Bleah. :D

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I ate chocolate-covered ants as a young girl. They were okay... crunchy little morsels, actually. Then again, I'd try just about anything if it's dipped in chocolate.

Except snails. A friend talked me into (nagged me incessantly) into eating one of hers when we were out to dinner once. I don't care how much she says they're "delicious delicacies." It made me gag.

Sai Charan said...

Interesting post Hilary!! :)

I think our generation is still lucky to be able to enjoy the food and cuisines that have been traditionally passed onto us from our ancestors. But with climate changes, global warming, species extinction, etc - the world might face food scarcity in future and they'll be left with no choice but to search and use alternative sources of protein and fat to survive, then bugs will sure be considered - most people won't be ready to eat them in their current form but I think people wouldn't mind if they are processed and transformed into standard shapes of food.

Sai :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie - oh dear sorry! and lobsters - oh well that's fine - I'll have yours! Obviously I need to be around when we're near a seafood place!

@ Susan - now that I've never done - chocolate ants and I'm sure were probably rather delicious ... and as you say they were chocolate dipped.

Now that's rather a nuisance and unfair on you - snails are kind of different to eat .. and I'm sure I'd not have done .. except garlic butter is delicious!

@ Sai - you make some very sensible comments and pertinent ideas ... we are lucky we enjoy our food and don't have to scratch too much for it. Do you think we'll only eat when it's mushed into a known shape ... I'm not so sure - I'd rather know what I was eating ... even if I wasn't that keen. Food for thought here! Cheers Hilary

DMS said...

Great post! I don't think bugs are for me (at least right now). I am a vegetarian and don't eat meat, so I think bugs would be off the menu. I have heard a lot about their health benefits and think that eventually people may sing a different tune and eat them- especially considering how popular they are in certain countries. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jess - I guess they are meat aren't they ... had forgotten that bit! But can quite appreciate your comment ... about their health benefits and how in due time we'll be eating them. They are as you say already popular in certain places. It'll be interesting to see when they become more acceptable to eat in our Western world. Cheers Hilary