A Banquet of Bugs: UVM's intro to entomology class eats up the subject

"Insects are good food," says professor of plant and soil sciences Scott Costa, here downing a mealworm. "80% of people in the world eat them."

Insects may be rich in protein and iron, "But it's just not my thing," says Stephanie Guerro '10. "I'm just not ready to crunch on them." Even in a cookie.

Though "A Bug's Life" is a hands-on course, "You don't have to eat insects," says Costa. "It's just for fun. You don't get extra credit."

Anthony Staples '11 and Nathan Lake '12 prepare to try "Critterz on a Log," crickets in peanut butter. "Look at these legs," says Lake.

"I just had some fried meal worms," Staples says. "It was a little creepy at first, but they were good. And crickets."

"Hmm," says Staples, "I don't like the legs. It's sort of stringy, crunchy."

For many seniors, the Bug Banquet was their final class at UVM. And what better way to celebrate than with a plate of fried meal worms?

"They taste good in dip," says Nathan Goodard, a recreation management major." This has been an awesome class. I've learned a lot of unconventional things."

Paul O'Neill samples mealworms while Jesse Fefer provides encouragement. The verdict? "Good," he says, "but there's a bug stuck in my teeth."

Though the Bug Banquet is all for fun, Costa's message is serious: insects play a critical role in fighting hunger in the developing world and are a delicious part of cuisine most everywhere except America and Europe.

Guests are welcome at the banquet too. "I was the date," says Katie Smith, with Kyle Luetkhans. "I'm a sucker for free food," he says, "even if it has bugs in it."