You never know what a day will bring. Yesterday my path was crossed with termites. I was cleaning a window sill and discovered a small pile of minute pebbles. They looked like termite feces to me and an exterminator was called to confirm my findings. We searched the mulch that surrounded the building and when he lifted various pieces of bark there swarmed a bunch of white crawly termites. He went on to tell me that there are five types of termites: kings, queens, swarmers, soldiers, and workers.
I figured that this was an opportunity to live on the wild side so I picked some up and did the taste test. In the interest of pursuing survival techniques I have eaten several types of bugs for my own discovery and for survival edibles class instruction so eating a few termites was no big deal. Honestly, they are so small that there’s not much to taste. For any serious nutrition it would take quite a volume to collect for consumption.
In other countries termites have been valued for their nutrition and medicinal properties. There are larger species than those that I saw and they can build enormous mounds above ground. In my neck of the woods you can find termites in and under logs that lie on the ground. Pine seems to be the favored wood. They prefer warmth and are more likely to be found in sun-lit areas of the forest floor. In my case the termites were collected under mulch debris but some logs can be split open with hatchets or machetes and tapped on the side to cause the termites to fall out onto a tray or collective surface.
Termites are rich in vitamin A, C, fat and protein. It is said that one third of the worlds population include insects in their diet so our aversion to eating bugs is largely a mindset. Termites can be cooked in a variety of ways: fried, steamed, roasted or boiled. Of course, if you’re on the go, you can just eat them raw.
Next time that you’re walking in the woods, turn over branches and logs that are laying on the ground or explore a tree stump. You may find that these little critters are prevalent and plentiful, and if you dare, pluck one up and give it a taste test!