Quick Facts about eating insects:
Sometimes we have callers asking, “my child ate a bug, is that harmful?” Keep reading to learn more.
Children eating an insect may be alarming to parents; however, some insects are eaten in other countries as a source of protein in their normal diet. Once the insect is in the stomach, it is digested just as any food would be. The protein from a swallowed insect is used as nutrition by our bodies, while the hard outer shell will likely passes through the intestines into the stool. Some insects have a noxious (or harmful) liquid that is released as part of their defense mechanism which can cause irritation to the mouth or stomach when chewed on or swallowed.
Most times when children eat an insect, it is just a “taste test” with only a small amount actually reaching the stomach. When a dead insect is ingested, the caller may be concerned if an insecticide caused the death of the insect. If this is the case, the small/residue amount of the insecticide is NOT expected to result in any additional toxic symptoms.
If you find your child eating a bug, do not panic. Take it away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.