“My child just ate a beetle.” “I think I swallowed a stinkbug.” “My kids were eating ants.”
The poison center answers LOTS of calls about people who swallowed insects of all kinds. Callers don’t know whether to be worried, disgusted, or (sometimes) amused. If you’re squeamish about eating bugs, here’s the bottom line: don’t worry. If you’d like to know more, read on.
No matter where they live, children are willing to put just about anything into their mouths – including insects. Most adults in the U.S. find the idea repulsive, but children haven’t learned that yet.
It is likely that eating insects – on purpose – began with our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In many countries, insects are now a usual part of the diet. They contain protein but little fat, they may be an abundant food source, and certain insects are considered delicacies. Grasshopper tacos, roasted stink bugs, boiled dragonflies, and fried ants are just the beginning of an international culinary adventure. Tequila bottles may contain worms – and so do some lollipops.
It is ALWAYS all right to call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 if you’re concerned about children swallowing bugs (or anything else). In the case of insects, poison center experts assure the caller that the child has just eaten a bit of extra protein that will be digested along with other food. It is possible that hard, indigestible parts of the insect body (for example, grasshopper legs or beetle wings) will be excreted in the stools; parents and caregivers shouldn’t be alarmed if this happens.
Related questions concern pesticides, if the caller thinks the bug was first killed by an insecticide. The amount of insecticide consumed with one or a few bugs should not cause any harm. The poison center would be concerned, though, if the child had access to the area where the bug killer was placed or stored. In that case, remove the child from the area, wash the child well, and call the poison center right away. The 24-hour number is 1-800-222-1222.
Thanks to the CDC for this info.