Are Wasps Edible?

Have you ever considered eating wasps? well, it seems many other people certainly have.

Wasp larvae from hebo wasps are traditionally eaten in Japan. In Kushihara and the surrounding region, these wasps are also farmed for their larvae. In addition to the larvae, murder hornets are also caught and served as a fried snack in parts of Japan.

Let’s take a closer look at these wasp eating habits.

What are wasp larvae?

Wasp larvae are grubs and are the developing wasps in the nest. They later metamorphose into fully developed wasps. These larvae are a very popular food for several animals including the European Honey Buzzard (Read More), bears, badgers, skunks, and it would also seem some humans too.

Fried insects
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These wasp larvae are so popular in Kushihara and the surrounding regions of Japan that they are farmed and the nest kept in their gardens. The wasps are fed sugar water and meat in order to increase the size and number of wasp larvae.

Farmed wasp colonies also grow much larger than normal as they are protected from cold conditions that usually kill wasps. (Read More) In warm climates, or when artificially kept warm, wasp colonies will keep growing and can have multiple queens.

These wasp larvae are considered a delicacy in parts of Japan, although it would appear that the habit of eating wasps is less popular with the younger generations.

The Kushihara Hebo Matsuri Wasp Festival

The Hebo Matsuri Wasp festival is an annual festival held each November in Japan where people bring wasp nests collected from the surrounding forests, and then reared, and compete to see who has the heaviest nests.

The activity of hunting wasps has become a social activity the rearing of the nests a hobby. Hunters will track down these wasp nests by using bait. Wasps are prolific hunters. They need a lot of meat protein to feed the developing larvae in the nest. It’s these larvae that the hunters are after. In order to locate the nests, they attract the wasps with pieces of meat, with attached ribbons. The hunters can then chase the wasps back to the nest by following the ribbon.

What do these wasp larvae taste like?

The wasp larvae are grubs, so they are soft and chewy as well as being described as creamy.

“It was light, creamy and perfectly palatable. The hunter and I continued to chat, in between popping (wasp) grubs into our mouths like sweets.”

BBC Travel

Murder hornets are eaten in Japan

In addition to wasp larvae giant Asian hornets, also known as murder hornets are also fried and eaten in parts of Japan. (source) These are not the wasps that are farmed for their larvae, however, as they are too aggressive and dangerous. The wasps farmed for their larvae are usually a more timid species of wasps known as Hebo.

Hebo gohei mochi – a snack made from wasp larvae

Gohei mocha is a popular rice snack in Japan, but this is the wasp larvae variant. Sticky rice is placed on a stick, coated with a source made from miso, peanuts, and wasp larvae, and then grilled.