However disgusting it may seem, eating bugs is deeply rooted in many cultural traditions. In Southeast Asian and African countries, live insects are sold at markets along with vegetables and meat. At movie theaters in Asia and Africa, people munch roasted insects like they would popcorn. In China, some insects have long been used for medicinal purposes.

Japan also has a tradition of insect cuisine, most famously in Nagano Prefecture. However, literature records insects such as locusts, wasp larvae and silkworm pupae being eaten in many other parts of the country, including Tokyo.

For Akifumi Hayashi, an entomologist and part-time instructor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University, though, insects have been on the menu now for several years. For the book "Mushi no Aji (The Taste of Insects)," which Hayashi co-authored with assistant professor Satoshi Shinonaga, the scientists sampled such delicacies as green caterpillar juice, rice and larvae gruel and butter-fried bagworm. They didn't do this for fun, but for the good of consumers who worry about accidentally eating insects in food.