There are more than 1900 edible insect species and the most important ones are in the orders of Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (butterfly and moths), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets), Isoptera (termites), Hemiptera (true bugs), and Homoptera (cicadas).
Reliable figures mention the consumption of 250 insect species in Africa, 549 in Mexico, 180 in China, and 160 in the Mekong area. Although Japan is not a tropical country, a number of insect species are popular food, in particular wasps.
Yde Jongema, taxonomist of the Laboratory of Entomology of Wageningen University, has compiled a worldwide list of edible insect species using a number of literature references.
Number of edible insects per country in the world. The total number of insects species in the world amounts to 1959. The data (updated April 2013) has been compiled by Yde Jongema from literature. Realization: GRS group Wageningen University. Remark: countries not showing recorded edible insects species only indicates that it is not mentioned in literature.
Number of recorded insect species worldwide (total 1959) Source: Yde Jongema (2013)
The research center for management of biodiversity in Benin together with the Royal African museum of Tervuren (Belgium) developed the insect database Lincaocnet with insects from West and Central Africa. It includes the countries Niger, DR Congo, Cameroon, Mali, Central African Republic, Togo and Benin. In each country in between 7 to 22 different species were detected. The database gives high resolution pictures and sound recorded names of insects and host plants in local languages.