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Omega 3 Content

Looking to consume insects primarily for the fat. I am interested in the omega 3 content, specifically in maximizing EPA/DHA but am having difficulty finding appropriate information.

Does anyone know of any research that breaks down the fatty acid profiles for various insects? It's burried in this PDF ( but It would appear mealworms actually have a relatively poor ratio of approx 24/1 linoleic/linolenic and they don't mention the balance of EPA/DHA.

Another source (abstract:, and the full version offal.pdf) mentions BSFL can convert EPA/DHA in fish offal to an edible form but it would appear if they are not directly consuming EPA/DHA it will not register in significant quantities in their bodies.

From what I've read so far I imagine the concentration of omega 3 (and fat content in general) is going to be highly dependent on the diet larvae have been raised on.... anyone have suggestions/experience on what could be used as feed to maximize the fat content?

I'd be interested in any research that explores how the nutrient content of larvae changes based on the diet provided.


  • Hi lowenheim, just noticed this thread....Linolenic C18:3omega3 is a precursor that humans can de-saturate & elongate to make into EPA C20:5omega3. ....In rodent experiments those hypo-thalmic (low thyroid) actually convert more linolenic into EPA & DHA...(as per 1991: "Hypothyroidism and thyroxin substitution affect the n−3 fatty acid composition of rat liver mitochondria"; see, in hypo-thyroid (low thyroid) rodents not only does the linolenic alpha-C18:3n-3 % in circulation drop (due to transforming it into EPA), but they biologically synthesize relatively more (the degree depends on gender) of DHA C22: cis ( & more ceramide C24:0. Meanwhile, hypothyroid rodents actually reduce the amount of linoleic C18:2n-6 being made into arachidonic fatty acid C20:4n-6 (meaning less enzyme altering of linoleic into other "fats"); & the linoleic % remaining in circulation is relatively higher in hypothyroidism, again with gender differences (as per 2000 “Identification of the Pathway of alpha-Oxidation of Cerebronic Acid in Peroxisomes” Lipids, Vol. 35(10) pp. 1127- 1133)....Different parts of an insect have different chain fatty acids making up different % of several distinct parts of an insect; & furthermore there are some gender differences. Thus if you want to limit the % of a particular fatty acid (in your example the C18:1 linoleic) that are ingesting at any one time the option is to cull that insect part from the diet....For a orientation see "Table 1" in (1990) "PHOSPHOLIPID FATTY ACID COMPOSITION AND ARACHIDONIC ACID UPTAKE AND METABOLISM BY THE CICADA TIBICEN DEALBATUS (HOMOPTERA:CICADIDAE)"; free full pdf = Also, Quote : "C16... C18...15:0, 17:0, 17:1, and 19:0...hydroxy fatty acid 2-OH-20:0... prostaglandin precursor 20:3n-6 and 20:4n-6 (excretory, alimentary, and reproductive tissues)...from (1990) "Phospholipid Fatty Acid Composition and Arachidonic Acid Metabolism in Selected Tissues of Adult Tenebrio molitor (Col.: Tenebrionidae)": .... ITEM: mealworms, like some sea sponges, have a rather unique 20 carbon chain fatty acid. It is an alpha hydroxyl (2 OH groups) fatty acid 2-hydroxy-20:0 (2-hydroxyeicosanoic, C20H40O3) c. The fatty acid group of eicosanoids are carbon n-20s; EPA is C20:5n-3C20:5n-3....Human gene FA2H (fatty acid 2-hyroxylase) makes our brain sphignolipids & ~50% of myelin comes from 2-hydroxy fatty acids. It seems possible, to me the mealworm 2-hydroxy-20:0 in the insect's cell wall lipids can be absorbed by humans & synthesized into brain galactosyl-ceramide/sulfatide. See (2005)"A novel method for the measurement of in vitro fatty acid 2-hydroxylase activity by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry"; free full text = Regarding 2-hydroxyls: Quote: enzyme "...FA2H... introduce hydroxyl group ... essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system .... lack of 2′-hydroxy galactosylceramide in the myelin membrane results in loss of long-term stability of myelin and eventual demyelination. FA2H also regulates differentiation ...epidermal ...adipocytes....from (2014) "2′-Hydroxy ceramide in membrane homeostasis and cell signaling"; abstract =

  • ITEM: Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae fat is 51gr lauric acid C12:0/Kg (42% of all it's fatty acids) & 12 gr. myristic acid C12:0/Kg & 0.7 gr capric acid C10:0/Kg. It may interest some to compare it to coconut oil's lauric acid 6.5 gr/15 ml oil(=1 tablespoon) roughly 49% ,myristic acid 2.4 gr./15 ml roughly 18%, & capric acid 800 mg/15 ml coconut oil.... Comment: Human ingestion of myristic acid raises both LDL & HDL cholesterol; but in equal %. It is the most effective saturated fat at generating what are described as large LDL particle size (it is small LDL that is problematic due to being more prone to oxidation). Myristic acid raises the body tissue content of omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid 20:5, n-3 (EPA), improves function of our kidneys, best fat for encouraging endothelial nitric-oxide synthase enzyme (eNOS) & woman's breast tissue ideally generates more myrisitic acid than any other fat. Lauric acid in the human body is made into the monolaurin, a mono-glyceride (ie: not tri-glycerides)...BSF data from Table 5 in (2012) "Complete Nutrient Content of Four Species of Feeder Insects"; free full text = nutrient content of four species of feeder insects.pdf....ITEM= Quote: "... Lepidoptera...ratio total fatty acids to total lipids ...differed in larvae fed...polen , almond, hazelnut, walnut & peanut = 17.39, 13.65, 13.94, 20.31 & 13.48%, differences in the ratios of total fatty acids to total lipids in pupae...highest ratios in the foods were oleic acid (C18:1) in almond and hazelnut (67.42 and 80.11%, linoleic acid (C 18:2) for walnut and peanut (61.16 and 49.78%), linolenic acid (C18:3n-3) in polen (38.19%)....Larvae fed... walnut & hazelnut ...highest ...linoleic acid ... (fed) oleic acid ...highest ...fed ...almond, polen and peanut. ...pupae oleic acid highest fed by polen, almond & hazelnut....linoleic acid exceeded others when pupae were fed by walnut & peanut....";from (2010) "Besinin Plodia interpunctella (Hubner) (Lepidoptera:Pyralidae) Larva ve Pupunun Toplam Lipid, Yağ Asidi Oranlarına ve Yağ Asidi Bileşimine Etkileri" limk to download = N. ve Barlow, J. S.,(1972) "The Consistency of the Fatty Acid Pattern of Galleria mellonella Reared on Fatty Acid Suplemented Diets"; in Canadian Journal of Zoology, 50, pgs 1033-1034....ITEM: field insects have more linolenic acid C18:3 than captive raised & the fatty acid profiles vary with insect's phase. Quote: "...concentrations of C18:3 were highest in field specimens, especially females..."; see "Table 3" in (1990) "Fatty Acid Distributions as Related to Adult Age, Sex and Diet in the Phytophagous Heteropteran, Lygus hespern,s (Heteroptera: Miridaep"free full pdf= To get more total fatty acids can supplement insect feed (like cornmeal) with glycine... Comment: glycine influences cytokine activity & inhibits neuro-transmitters which improves metabolism's recovery from free radicals (a ubiquitous part of cellular processing) & decreases potential side effects on mitochondria. Thus, I infer, likely allows insect to direct more energy into fat production (un-stressed) & fat storage (cytokines regulate fat cell dynamic with lipid molecules). Glycine makes up 35% of gelatin (collagen) & a way to obtain it for supplementing insect feed is by boiling up chicken feet &/or fish head that render a solution having glycine to moisten the insect feed; of course Black Soldier Fly larvae probably won't need us to extract the collagen's glycine for them (they can strip fish/chicken feet to the bone)...(2010) "Effects of food on the total lipid and total fatty acid percentage of Galleria mellonella (Lepidoptera...) pupae";

  • Fat body of insect description = Quote: "...combination of adipose tissue...& liver... cells called trophocytes... become larger & develop vacuoles....linked by... lamina ...forms lobes and ribbons...nutrient exchange between the fat body and haemolymph (insect version of blood)....pupation...(larval) trophocytes...disconnected...undergo programmed cell death...replaced in the adult by new trophocytes derived from the body wall...."; from:

  • Could you use a maggot or grub to turn fresh rabbit meat into fat?

  • Hi Bugbug, - I don't see any gain in taking rabbit meat, which is edible & feeding it to fly larvae (maggots). Rabbits are already at the end of a notable food chain that carnivores can make use of higher on the food chain.

    Fly larvae are one of, if not the most, protein rich insects & not very tricky to rear. (2010) "The Assay and Evaluation of Nutrutional Ingredients from House Fly Larve" "... 62.52 % of crude protein ...18.05 % of crude fat, 24.21 % of Linolenic Acid, 0.68 % of Linoleic acid, 58.5 % of unsaturated fatty acid, 2.87 % of Carbohydrates, 727.8 μg/100 g of Vitamin A, 131.0 μg/100 g of Vitamin D and 10.04 mg/100 g of Vitamin E ... Fe,Zn,Ca and Se is 268 mg/kg, 159 mg/kg, 0.31 % and 8.90 mg/kg,respectively...";

    One study used pig manure to breed them, fed the larvae to chickens & determined that the eggs laid were nutritionally as good as eggs coming from chickens fed a formula based on fish meal. See (2002) "The Effects of Fresh Maggots Replacing Domestically-made Fish Meal as Fodder Content on Egg Production of Hu-Line Brown Laying Hens"; ... & ... (2004) "STUDY ON NUTRITION CONTENTS AND VALUE OF MUSCA DOMESTICA LARVAE";

    Quote: "... mortality ... fed with house fly larvae ... lower than those with fish powder ... flavor ... improved ... contents ... amino acids ... increased ... aspartate/threonine/serine ... indicator(s) of ... flavor...." As per (2007) "Effect of Musca domestica maggot and pupae as feed additives on the quality and flavor of Qingyuan chickens"; ... & see ... (2010) "Effects of Different Housefly Larvae Products on Growth Performance,Antioxidant and Immune Indices in Yellow-feathered Broilers"; study looked at specific component larval fractions (quote): "... peptide ... increased ... daily gain and decreased ... feed/gain ... better ... than ... hydrolyzates and degreasing (de-fatted) larvae powder ... immune ... indices ... increased ... serum catalase/superoxide dismutase/glutathione peroxidase ...increased... malondialdehyde ... decreased ..." ... & see ... (2011) "Effect of House Fly Larvae Meal on Growth Performance and Slaughter Performance of Yellow Dwarf Chickens"; found (quote): "... average daily weight gain ... larvae meal group ... significantly higher than ... fish meal group & ... control ...." ... & see (2012) "Effect of Housefly Maggot Proteins on the Growth,Meat Quality and Disease Resistance of Qingyuan Partridge Chickens"; found (quote) : "...indoor reared chickens fed ... maggot ..higher weight gain ... but lower feed/meat ratio than the ones fed with normal diet ... supplementation of 10% maggot proteins in the feed was most effective ... protein content and ratio of essential (EAA) or delicious (DAA) amino acids over total (TAA) amino acids the chickens fed with the maggot protein diet were higher than in those fed with regular diet ... maggot protein ... increased ... ratio ... unsaturated fatty acids over total fatty acids and decreased the fat content in chicken meat ...."

  • Large scale maggot production w/out commentary: "Hangzhou Tianyuan Agriculture Company rearing fly larvae in pig manure" =

    Simple homestead method with explanation: "Feeding Chickens maggots, free food, and renewable as well" =

  • Haha l would not want to eat pig poo maggots. I was just thinking off the wall like I usually do with the minimal amount of intelligence I have and wanting to be more self reliant with my eats that if I was in Alaska (which I'm not lol just dreaming)and I had a rabbitry and caribou meat but nothing with fat. So it's more of a hypothetical this is all I have scenario. All stemming from that disease you can get from eating too much lean meat. I can't remember what it's called right now...

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