The nutritional value of insects is a frequent topic of debate, usually due to a lack of knowledge, or is questioned by sellers of food additives. It stands to reason, however, when you see in nature how seed and insect eating birds feed insects to their young. The little ones are ready to leave the nest in scarcely three weeks. Insects indeed contain a combination of fluids and nutritional elements - it is baby formula for birds in the nest. Nevertheless, you cannot entirely compare raising birds in captivity with raising them in nature. The choice of various types of insects, together with the offering of green food, minerals and seeds in nature, cannot be duplicated in the aviary, though one can attempt to do so. The key to success with birds is thus a varied diet of insects, seeds, bud seeds, herbs, paté, egg, mineral grit, and possibly also to a limited extent some food additives such as vitamins and minerals.
Insects are an important source of food for animals as well as people, and for this reason there are several nutritional value reports to be found in articles in various fields, ranging from anthropology to zoology. For instance, there is evidence on wall paintings at archaeological sites that thousands of years ago, human beings already used tools to gather termites out of their mounds for food. While insects are now eaten very seldom in Western communities, in the rest of the world they are an important aspect of the daily food and are considered by many as a delicacy. The range of insects that are eaten by humans is very large, but most food analyses have to do with butterfly larvae (Lepidoptera), beetle larvae (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and termites (Isoptera). Analyses are also available for insects which are grown as animal feed.
The analyses were conducted on raw, complete insects and come from various scientific works and nutritional tables.
Insects contain between 57 and 75 % water; those with a low moisture percentage usually contain a high fat percentage. Protein percentage can vary between 14% and 24 %. The percentage of fat also varies significantly depending on the insect; for instance, termites have only 0.6% fat and wax moth larvae have up to 23.7% fat. Female insects usually have more than males.
As expected, insects only contain small amounts of raw ash because they do not have an internal calcium skeleton like vertebrates. Fibre percentages can vary greatly among insects; soft insects contain noticeably fewer fibres than hard insects such as beetles.
One can thus conclude that there is no parallel analysis for insects. The enormous variety of types, the environment they live in and also the different stages mean that birds in nature are presented with a varied menu. In the analysis of food for human beings - fruit, vegetables, milk, fish and meat - major differences in composition are also found.