Scientists estimate that there are 10 quintillion insects on Earth — that's 10,000,000,000,000,000,000. In other words, they're just about everywhere. It may make your skin crawl to think about blood-sucking parasites and poisonous bites, but the vast majority of these insects are harmless to humans. Better yet, quite a few of these plentiful insects can actually help us survive. We just need to be open to the idea of eating them.

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Now, the concept of chowing down on creepy-crawly bugs might gross you out, but that's mostly a byproduct of our culture. Billions of people around the world consume insects as a part of their diets. In some countries they're delicacies, while in others they're considered an everyday staple. Those of us who study survival simply can't afford to ignore such a valuable source of calories and nutrients.

These mopane worms are an important food in parts of Africa. Photo: Mompati Dikunwane / Wikipedia

These mopane worms are an important food in parts of Africa. Photo: Mompati Dikunwane / Wikipedia

The following infographic from Ensia analyzes many aspects of entomophagy — that is, the consumption of edible insects. It shows which cultures rely most on edible bugs, which types of insects are most commonly eaten, and the nutrient content compared to more traditional sources of meat. Click here to download a full-size version of this infographic.

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