The Aptly Named “Big Butt Ants” Are An Expensive Delicacy In Colombia
Edible insects have yet to catch on in many regions of the western world. Many Americans still find the idea of eating insects to be unpleasant. However, in most other parts of the world, the popularity of edible insects continues as usual. In some South American countries, a particular type of ant is collected every spring. These ants are known in Spanish as “hormigas culonas,” which translates to “big butt ants”. These large cockroach-sized ants are collected by people in the wild and then roasted. The roasted ants are salted and eaten like peanuts. These ants are considered a delicacy and they can cost ten times as much as Colombia’s world famous coffee.
The big butt ants are collected in the northern Santander department of Colombia. The ants are often used as a pizza topping, and some creative chefs use the ants to create sauces. Although a description of the big butted ant snack may sound gross to some people, one local man named Miguel Angel Paez, 25, insists that the ants cannot be put down once you start eating them. Paez has been collecting the ants since he was a young boy, and he claims that the butt is the tastiest part.
The big butt ants of Colombia are a type of leaf cutter ant species. These leaf cutter ants form colonies that are arranged according to a caste system. Every spring during the months of March, April and May heavy rainfall causes the reproductive caste of leaf cutter ants to take flight out of their underground nests in order to establish new colonies elsewhere as kings and queens. Indigenous groups in and around Santander, Colombia have been feeding on the ants for centuries. The indigenous peoples even introduced the tasty ants to European settlers in their region five hundred years ago.
Do you think that the people of Colombia are better off when the sale of big butt ants and other edible insect species are not regulated by the government?