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February 17, 2012

Quite often you find big white grubs (beetle larvae) in your temperate or tropical compost. Some people are disgusted and some people are worried if they somehow are dangerous or bad for your garden. The best option is to leave them in the compost where they participate in the production of soil. A common simplification is that worms are the only degraders in your compost. In addition to worms, there are also fungi, bacteria, protozoans, millipeds and… beetle grubs. Some grubs in the family Scarabaeidae are edible. The Seehamongkol family may eat selected green adult beetles which they catch with light traps, but in my childhood in Sweden I learnt from the local entomological society how to cook their larvae:

1. Simply throw the larvae in boiling water to kill them.

2. After a few seconds, pour out the larva, cool them down with cold water and cut them open using a pair of scissors.

3. Remove the black guts and rinse in water.

4. Heat some butter in a frying pan and fry the grubs.

5. Serve on toast and eat with knife and fork (my suggestion). Like with giant crickets, you may want to cover the grubs with cheese which you quickly melt. Add salt.

The flavour is mushroomy, but the meat is very chewy, spare the crunchy legs and the shield above the head.

White creatures are scarabaeid grubs, brown creatures are their pupae. If you do not like to eat them, others will. Feed them to your pigs or chicken, or let them live as a part of your thriving garden. ‘Skarabeios’ is Greek meaning ‘beetle’.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 2:41 AM

    Consider the possibility at least that these white grubs are the larvae of the Rhinoceros beetle. The biggest killer of coconut palms would be rhinoceros beetle, mostly diagnosed as damage by termites……….. by experts.

    • February 17, 2012 11:31 AM

      The beetle family Scarabaeidae is large. Some are specialized wood dwellers, others live in compost or dung. The common rhinoceros beetle (Xylotrypes gideon), which is used as a fighting beetle in Thailand, feeds on the roots of large grasses such as sugarcane and bamboo. I would not fear beetles I find in the compost.


  2. kentiopsis permalink
    February 17, 2012 4:59 AM

    How would I learn to identify the edible larvae?

    • February 17, 2012 10:34 AM

      I think that an ID to species is impossible based on morphology. If you know your neighbourhood beetles and their substrate preferences it may not be too tricky to make a qualified guess. If it was a crucial question to a scientist he would make a DNA analysis and compare with DNA of identified adults.

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