Escamoles, the ants eggs
Escamoles in Spanish
The escamoles are often called “ant eggs” because of their egg-like shape. They are however ant pupae! What is a pupa? It is a kind of cocoon. The queen lays eggs, out of which larvae come. The larvae later turn into pupae and stop moving, before transforming themselves in winged ants which reproduce!
Where can you find this insect?
Escamoles are considered as a delicacy in Mexico. The ant nests are found in the state of Hidalgo, at an altitude of 2000 to 2500 m. It can also be found in Texas, USA.
Harvesting and breeding
The ants build their nests close to Agave plants (or Maguey). These plants are home to aphids which feed on their spas and produce “nectar”. Ants feed on this nectar. A nest contains around 10 000 ants! The escamoles harvest is done in February and March, during the dry season. Around 3 kg can be harvested per nest and per year. The harvesters should be careful, as the ants bite and produce an acid substance that provokes coloration on the skin. Better wear gloves!
To breed ants in semi-freedom, there are different techniques. Aphid’s nectar can be replaced by honey or the aphids can be raised. Adding queens can also increase ants’ density in a nest. These queens are easily accepted by the colony. For more information, please contact us.
The escamoles are like caviar in Mexico. They are sold at 50 $/kg in Mexico while in other countries prices can go over 1000$/kg. But why are they so expensive? You might have guessed, the harvest is very labor intensive, and ant nests are becoming rare!
Escamoles look like wheat grains, and have a diameter of 5 mm to 1 cm.
Taste and texture
The eggs are just…delicious! Raw they have a juicy texture and a milky taste. Cooked they have the taste of slightly acidic cheese. The best recipe to cook them is of course the escamoles tacos.
How to conserve them?
Escamoles have an extremely short shelve life (1 to 2 days) due to their high moisture content. As escamoles are only eaten fresh, restaurants freeze them. They can thus have it the entire year on their menu!
Nutritional composition of escamoles
|Dry matter||51 %|
Source: Virginia Melo-Ruiz et al. 2013. Assessment of Nutrients of Escamoles Ant Eggs Limotepum apiculatum M. by Spectroscopy Methods
If you are interested in a more detailed analysis, feel free to contact us!