Insect Consumption in the Arctic

  • Maria Pontes FerreiraEmail author
  • Alain Cuerrier
  • Marjolaine Giroux
  • Christian H. Norton


The Inuit live in the circumpolar regions of Greenland, Canada, USA, and eastern Russia. Largely a maritime culture, the Inuit also rely upon caribou (Rangifer tarandus L.) for sustenance. The Oestridae flies Hypoderma (Oedemagena) tarandi (L.) and Cephenemyia trompe (M.) commonly infect caribou with their larvae. The Oestridae larvae grow under the hides or in the nasopharyngeal cavities of caribou. When Inuit harvest the caribou, the grubs may be collected and eaten, too. While a fading practice, there is a rich history and lore about the Inuit and edible insects. This history is brought to life in this chapter on traditions for eating insects in North American Arctic cultures. Herein, we provide a biological overview of the Oestrid flies, including a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of what is known about the nutritional benefits of Oestridae larvae to Inuit food security and food innovation. The chapter concludes with a discussion about how insect farming in the north by Indigenous peoples may provide a modern way to address bio-waste problems in a productive way.



The authors express gratitude toward Dr. John D. Speth (University of Michigan) and Katrina McClure, PhDc (University of Kansas). Each provided feedback on the manuscript. The authors acknowledge the Inuit from Nunavik (Kangiqsujuaq and Kangiqsualujjuaq) and Nunatsiavut (Postville) for sharing their knowledge. Avataq Cultural Institute and ArcticNet financially sponsored the research project in those Inuit lands. We also wish to extend our thanks to Dr. Murray Lankester (Oklahoma State University) for sharing his experience in entomophagy and for the rights to use his pictures, and as well to Dr. Maxim Larrivée (Insectarium de Montréal) for the institution’s support and financial contribution.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Feeding WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Jardin Botanique de Montréal. Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale, Université de MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Insectarium de Montréal. Espace pour la vieMontréalCanada

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