Eating Ants
January 3, 2004 12:51 AM   Subscribe

Are there hygiene problems with eating ants? I ask because I accidentally ate a bunch of ants that were in a box of cereal. I've now thrown out the box and I am not really grossed out by it but it did get me wondering, given that ants live in dirt and carry around pieces of dead insects as part of their chores, whether there are health consequences.
posted by vacapinta to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I'm not an expert, but I wouldn't think it any more dangerous than eating a potato or carrot without washing it first. If you're feeling adventurous, try a recipe.
posted by trondant at 1:20 AM on January 3, 2004

Or, read the book.
posted by pemulis at 1:29 AM on January 3, 2004

mmm, protein.
posted by mrbill at 1:46 AM on January 3, 2004

in Soviet Russia ant eats YOU!!

... okay, now that I got that off my chest... says we eats ants and other bugs all the time, so there is probably little to worry about. According to this site, though, it may depend on what kind of ants they were:

The Garden Ant is a nuisance because of its foraging habit but it does not carry germs or spread disease. Garden Ants are attracted to sugary food; the presence of ants in food although unpleasant does not, in itself, constitute a health risk. Pharaoh's Ants are of greater significance as they carry harmful germs which they pick up when feeding on decomposing food, faecal matter and when coming into contact with drains and hospital dressings. They are a particular problem in hospitals and are difficult to eradicate.

Did they taste like garden ants? or pharaoh's ants?
posted by taz at 4:25 AM on January 3, 2004

You realize you are now and forever going to be nicknamed The Anteater, right? Sounds like a really eclectic mob name.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:43 AM on January 3, 2004

Response by poster: I guess I should add, truthfully, that I didnt really throw away the box of cereal. I guess I can think of them as tiny raisins. Oh, and they are probably not pharaoh's ants since I live nowhere near a UK hospital. Phew.
posted by vacapinta at 4:49 AM on January 3, 2004 [1 favorite]

Must not have been fire ants, or we'd be recommending Benadryl.
posted by konolia at 6:31 AM on January 3, 2004

When I lived in NYC, it was very early morning, almost still dark out, and I didn't want to turn the light in the kitchen on because there was a guy I had never seen before sleeping on the sofa a few feet away - some stray prospective bf picked up by my roomie, no doubt. I grabbed a box of cereal off of the shelf, and poured some into a bowl, added some milk, started eating, and thought to myself, hmmm I don't remember this cereal having raisins in it...

Then the raisins started to move.

Yeah, I was eating cockroaches. Kinda salty. Kinda crunchy. After running into the bathroom for about half an hour of dry heaves and hysterical crying, I realized that I was going to live. I think you will too, vacapinta ;)
posted by iconomy at 7:03 AM on January 3, 2004 [2 favorites]

that ants live in dirt
Ants are the oldest pharmacist a round. They naturaly make anti-bodies.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:19 AM on January 3, 2004 [1 favorite]

I was just in Costa Rica (don't ask) and encountered a poisonous tree frog (don't ask). The tourguide said: "The poisonous tree frog gets its venom from its steady diet of ants. If you take a poisonous tree frog away from ants it is no longer poisonous."

My point? You are now venomous. Don't bite anyone.
posted by adrober at 8:35 AM on January 3, 2004

that is why i always look at my food. How did this happen vacapinta? Tell us the story.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:51 AM on January 3, 2004

Have these ants been exposed to any insecticides?

Here in Canada we have a Poison Control hotline we can call whenever we eat something we probably shouldn't have, and they'll tell you if it was toxic or not, and what to do. Do you have anything like that in the U.K.?
posted by orange swan at 10:53 AM on January 3, 2004

A little bit of dirt is good for you. Keeps your immune system healthy, and up to speed.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2004

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