May 15, 2024 - News

Cicada emergence creates some fine dining options

A photo of a cicada.

The 13- and 17-year-old cicada broods that are coming out this year are some of the longest-living insects in the world. Photo: Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A rare emergence of cicadas is creating excitement among some dining circles.

Why it matters: It's an opportunity to rethink entomophagy — the eating of insects, Ginny Mitchell, the program coordinator at Iowa State University's Insect Zoo, tells Axios.

Catch up fast: Two regional broods of cicadas are emerging simultaneously for the first time in 221 years in parts of southern Iowa and central Illinois.

  • Trillions of them are expected across 16 states over the next few weeks.
  • Some cicadas are already appearing in Southern states but the Midwest is expected to peak in a few weeks.

Zoom in: Mitchell, who eats bugs like ants or crickets regularly, plans to snack on cicadas for the first time this year and will collect them during a trip to Illinois next month.

  • She's considering air frying and making a special sauce for them.

The intrigue: The insects were recently dubbed the "noisy lobsters of the trees" by the New York Times.

  • Chefs and foragers are collecting them for dishes like cicada-stuffed pasta or kimchi.
  • They have a "mild woody flavor," per the Times.

Stunning stat: Entomophagy is practiced in most parts of the world with more than 2,200 species of insects, according to scientific journal Nature.

  • Edible bugs have "remarkable attributes" and are becoming an increasingly significant part of global food systems, per Nature.

Dig in: Mitchell plans to serve cicadas samples at "Bug Village," a free annual event at ISU's Advanced Teaching and Research Building from 11am-3pm Aug. 24.

1 fun thing to go: The Cicada Safari app includes a map of current sightings.

A photo of insects.
Ginny Mitchell, the program coordinator at Iowa State University's Insect Zoo, has previously offered the public samples of "ants on a log" and "scorpion scaloppini." Photos: Courtesy of Mitchell
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.

More Des Moines stories