Crickets, Larvae and Flies – Oh My!
There has been a lot of buzz lately around insects as pet food (see what we did there? 🦗), and that interest is only growing! As the search intensifies for healthier, more sustainable options to feed our growing population, the conversation has begun to turn to crickets and other insects. That has led pet parents to start asking – which insects are appropriate to eat? And more importantly, are insect or cricket dog foods a healthy option?
When you think edible insect, what comes to mind? If you said crickets, you aren’t alone. Crickets have long been raised as feed for household pets like snakes and lizards – so the infrastructure already exists for farming them. In fact, crickets are the most consumed insects worldwide! They are sometimes considered the “gateway bug.” Despite their popularity, at HOPE we formulate our insect-based products with Black Soldier Fly Larvae, and not crickets. Read on to find out why.
Crickets Vs. Black Soldier Fly Larvae
When it comes to pet food, the biggest contenders in North America are black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) and crickets. People may be a bit more familiar and comfortable with crickets, since they have made their way into some boutique human food products already. That may be – but don’t write off the Black Soldier Fly! This incredible little insect has a lot going for it.
Before we start comparing the options, you may be wondering: why consider insects in the first place? Well, insect production uses drastically less water, land and feed, and emits less greenhouse gases. It is a more sustainable option than traditional protein sources like chicken, beef, fish and even soy. It is also a super healthy and clean protein option with a ton of rich nutrients. It turns out eating bugs just makes sense!
Both BSFL and crickets contain all the essential amino acids for dogs, as well as minerals, vitamins, fatty acids and fiber. Both insects are novel protein sources and could be of benefit for dogs with allergies to more common protein sources like chicken and beef.
When it comes to nutritional content, crickets are more rich in crude protein than BSFL. With that said, BSFL are more rich in minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Both insect amino acid profiles are comparable to the more conventional protein sources like chicken that we are familiar with. Both are able to contribute to a complete diet that meets or exceeds FEDIAF and AAFCO nutrient requirements for adult dogs. Overall, both insect proteins provide a complete essential amino acid profile for dogs, as well as fatty acids, fiber, and micronutrients, while helping protect our planet in the process. So why did HOPE decide on BSFL for our recipes, rather than focus on a cricket dog food?
Sustainability, Scalability, and Research Availability
Crickets need much more space to grow compared to larvae and worm-like insects. There is also a large net weight loss in the production of protein from crickets. BSFL on the other hand reproduce really fast and are incredibly efficient; they can double their body weight daily. BSFL feed on food waste, which makes for a radically eco-friendly circular system! The larvae also thrive in close quarters. They naturally prefer to be in dark place close together. This makes farming them easier, more ethical, and ultimately very sustainable. For us, this is crucial! HOPE is all about creating the future of pet food in the kindest, most sustainable way possible.
Since they are so super efficient, BSFL are also more affordable, which makes them far more widely available, especially on a large scale. The volumes needed to feed our pets is pretty large, and it must be consistently available. If the supply chain isn’t stable, we could run out of ingredients. As a company, this was an important consideration for us.
Lastly, BSFL have been researched more than cricket dog food as a novel source of protein. HOPE is a science-focused company, and we rely on the extensive body of knowledge available about all the ingredients we formulate with. The results found in those years of testing? Positive outcomes in palatability and digestibility! This means that we can trust BSFL is tasty and nutritious for our furry friends, and that’s what it’s all about.
When it comes to eating insects, we are ready to try a cricket or two. Our founder Sofia has even been known to bake a pretty decent cricket-flour cake! But when it comes to formulating a nutritious and sustainable pet food, black soldier fly larvae is the clear winner for HOPE.