Alternative uses of insects

Posted on: January 27, 2022, in Blog

Wherever there are insects on earth, there are humans. It comes as no surprise that humans have come up with weird, and some wonderful ways, to benefit from insects.

We had a look at some of the alternative uses of insects across the globe.

Art materials

Insects have long provided artists with material for their work. Shellac, derived from the resinous secretions of the female lac bug, has been used for more than 3,000 years. It helps give the sheen to ornate Tibetan armor. Carmine, a brilliant crimson red dye derived by crushing up cactus-sucking cochineal bugs and used by the Aztecs and Mayas, was coveted by artists and textile makers. The Phoenicians’ “Tyrian purple” came from a species of sea snail now known as Bolinus brandaris, and it was so exceedingly rare that it became worth its weight in gold.


Do you know what’s lurking in your makeup bag? Cosmetics manufacturers use from snail mucus for skin creams and lotions to bee vomit used in a wide variety of cosmetics, bath items, lotions and sunscreens.


An untreated wound can lead to infection. Surgical maggots are sometimes used. The maggots that hatch from the eggs feed on the dead tissue in the wound and clean it.  

In some cultures, ants were used to stitch wounds.   They would hold the skin together, grab an ant with big jaws (like an army or leaf-cutter ant), put its mouth to the wound and wait for it to bite down.   Then the body would be removed and the head left with the ant mouth pinching the skin together. 

Since the time of ancient Egypt, leeches have been used in medicine to treat nervous system abnormalities, dental problems, skin diseases, and infections. Today, they’re mostly used in plastic surgery and other microsurgery. This is because leeches secrete peptides and proteins that work to prevent blood clots.

Alternative Protein Source

Insects are cheap, nutritious, and—according to some supporters—delicious. There are over 2,100 edible insect species, which offers a vast array of options for food dishes. Edible insects contain high-quality protein, amino acids, vitamins, calcium, zinc, and iron for humans. Surprisingly, insects account for up to 60% of the dietary protein in a rural African diet. Termites are very popular, especially in Ghana, as are dried or fried Mopani worms in Botswana.

Unfortunately, most insects we find in and around our house aren’t exactly as useful and can do a lot of damage to your property or spread germs and disease. If you have an insect infestation that needs to be taken care of, contact Service Master.

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