A whole new meaning to having computer bugs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 June, 1998, 12:00am

As the summer months do their worst to make our lives a living greenhouse, humidity and mould are just two of the smaller invasions the average Hong Kong household has to deal with.

They are problems that you can live without, if you don't mind paying for 24-hour air-conditioning, but there is still one problem that, rich or poor, none of us can get away from.

Hong Kong's muggy summer also brings with it the return of the roach. Those unlovable bugs that scuttle behind fixed wall units and breed like nuclear reactors.

But worry not - even the foul and insidious cockroach has its purpose. At least it does in Wendell's Yucky Bug World [www.nj.com/yucky/roaches].

Apparently, a poultice of crushed cockroaches can be a great cure for stings. Wendell also provides some enthralling roach facts - such as that if you chop off a cockroach's head, it will still survive for as long as a week, until it dies of thirst. Or that one South American roach grows to 15 centimetres long with a 30 cm wingspan.

There is not much else you can do with a cockroach, but the kitchens of Iowa State University have found some enticing uses for our other boneless friends. According to Iowa's Tasty Insect Recipes page [www.ent.iastate.

edu/Misc/InsectsAsFood.html], 'Insects can be delicious and nutritious!' You heard it here first.

Entomophagy it seems, could be the food fad of the future. And it's healthy too. Apparently a typical serving of 100g of termites contains 14.2 grams of protein, with no fat or carbohydrates.

Dung beetles are even better, with 17.2g of protein and 30.9mg of calcium, though they can be a little fatty, so go carefully if you are dieting. Recipes on offer include rootworm beetle dip, banana worm bread, and the very tasty chocolate chirpie chip cookies.

The University of Kentucky has a small, but fascinating entomology page [www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology /ythfacts/bugfood.htm] that discusses the benefits of eating insects.

It is not such a weird idea. Insects being arthropods are actually from the same family as lobster, shrimp and crab; the only difference being a cicada or mealworm lives on land.

NEIL TAYLOR neiltaylor@bigfoot.com