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Bon appétit! How to eat cicadas in 5 easy steps

Dine on summer's biggest insect delicacy!

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Photo Credit: Bridget Sutton

After a 17-year underground slumber, periodical cicada Brood X is finally making its way out to the light.

It is also pretty tasty.

These cicadas have suckled on tree root juices for years.

Now they’re interested in one thing only: noisily mating and then dying immediately.

Photo Credit: Bridget Sutton

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Their offspring will be deposited as eggs in the grooves of trees. Eventually, these eggs will hatch and the grubs will burrow back underground to begin their own long feast on the trees’ roots.

These rare cicada summers are not without human benefits, including an unexpected silver lining: The chance to dine on a rare delicacy.

It’s easier than you might think...

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Here are five steps to buggy deliciousness...

JoAnna Wendel

5. Collect your cicadas

Keith Clay, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University, told Inverse that the best moment to catch a cicada is right after they emerge from the ground — before it develops a crunchy skin over its legs and body.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The cicada epicenter this year is Washington D.C., where the insects can be collected by the bucketful.

4. Kill your cicadas

Once your cicada harvest is in your bucket, you need to act before they crawl out. The easiest and possibly most humane way to prep a cicada for cooking is to put them in the freezer. The chill will sedate them, and they will die.

JoAnna Wendel

Cicadas typically live deep in the ground, below where frost might permeate. So a quick, cold hit should do the trick.

JoAnna Wendel

3. Clean your cicadas

Like anything harvested from the ground, you need to wash the frozen cicadas — this ensures the final dish isn’t seasoned with bits of dirt or other debris.

JoAnna Wendel

2. Bonus step: Behead your cicadas

The heads and legs of cicadas are safe to eat, but Clay suggests removing them to improve texture and curb squeamishness, like a shrimp.

Joanna Wendel for Inverse

1. Cook your cicadas

If you followed the four steps, you should now be ready to cook and enjoy your cicadas.

JoAnna Wendel

Joanna Wendel for Inverse

These shrimp-like insects — which Clay says have an asparagus flavor — can be eaten as a pure protein snack.

Cookbook Cicada-licious, by biologist Jenna Jadin, includes more adventurous recipes, like cicada dumplings and cicada-rhubarb pie.

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If you have a shellfish allergy, steer clear of cicadas. Consult your doctor about any potential risk before chowing down.

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In her book, Jadin writes that just because many in the U.S. aren’t accustomed to eating cicadas or other bugs, it doesn’t mean they’re gross. In fact, insects of various kinds are a delicacy in many regions of the world.

“If you have ever eaten a crawfish, lobster, crab, or shrimp then you have already eaten members of the class Arthropoda, of which insects are a part,” Jadin writes.

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“Popping a big juicy beetle, cricket, or cicada into your mouth is only a step away.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Cicadas are a rare treat, and they can be a good way to include insect protein in your diet.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Even if you don’t end up liking them, you will have a kick-ass story to tell.

Read more about Brood X here.

Photo Credit: Bridget Sutton

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