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A woman eats fried insects during a competition in Yunnan, China, in 2017. (The winner consumed nearly 3 lbs. of bugs.) Photo: Visual China Group via Getty Images

The emergence of Brood X cicadas is renewing calls for one very simple way to deal with insect populations: eat them.

Why it matters: Entomophagy — the eating of insects — is practiced by more than 2 billion people around the world, and it's a highly sustainable way to consume protein.

  • But for most people in the West, it's still the final frontier of gustatory exploration.

By the numbers: According to a 2013 UN report, edible insects have what is known as a "high food conversion rate."

  • On average, insects can convert 2 kg of feed into 1 kg of body mass, compared to an 8-to-1 ratio for cattle, while pigs produce 10–100 times more greenhouse gases per kg of weight than mealworms.

Context: Cicadas — which are about to become extremely if temporarily abundant — "taste like shrimp," entomologist Brian Fisher told Wired.

  • Joseph Yoon, a chef and the executive director of Brooklyn Bugs, told the Washington Post he thinks cicadas could be an on-ramp to entomophagy for squeamish Americans, and he plans to produce cicada dishes for pop-up restaurants.
  • Those who want to try out recipes at home can peruse the online cookbook "Cicada-licuous," produced by the ecologist Jenna Jadin.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
May 12, 2021 - Science

The cicadas are a preview of a buggy future

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Trillions of Brood X cicadas are now emerging throughout parts of the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern U.S.

Why it matters: Most immediately, because they can be as loud as a Metallica show when they're singing in concert.

Updated 44 mins ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

2 hours ago - Health

Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.