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GOT A TASTE FOR BUGS ?

Seven crispy crickets, flavored with bacon and cheese, collectively net just nine calories. And that’s not all you'll learn at Sunday's Insectival at Oxbow Meadows.

The insect festival, now in its ninth year, annually draws hundreds of guests with features like edible insect treats, cricket-spitting contests and roach races.

“The main purpose of it is to educate the public about insects,” said Jill Carroll, coordinator of public outreach for Oxbow Meadows. “That’s the whole thing — getting them excited about nature, excited about science.”

Also fueling that excitement? Crafts and games, plus exhibits courtesy of groups like Auburn University and the Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers Association.

“Every insect has a role,” Carroll said. “Even though they’re everywhere, we know very little about them.”

And what better way to learn more about insects than, um, tasting them?

It’s a belief driving the popularity of the cricket-spitting contest. That’s where the aforementioned bacon and cheese crickets come in.

In fact, Carroll hopes this will be the year an Insectival participant breaks the Guinness World Record for cricket spitting. It’s currently held by a Wisconsin man who spit one just over 30 feet, she said.

Carroll’s advice for success in the competition? Break the cooked cricket’s legs off, and give it a little bit of time to get moist once you have it in your mouth. Not too much time, though. Then, it will disintegrate.

But don’t worry — it’s perfectly OK if that happens. Once you get past the fact that you’re eating something that makes noise outside your bedroom at night, your biggest concern is the crunchiness factor.

Want a longer insect culinary experience?

Opt for the festival’s other tasty offerings, including insect-filled lollipops. Then, there are the packages of crunchy insect larvae, offered in both barbecue and cheddar varieties.

The package vows that after you eat the treats, the phrase “tastes like chicken” will have a whole new meaning.

(Fair assessment. We tasted them and were grateful for the heavy coating of seasoning. As well as our glass of juice to negate the aforementioned crunchiness factor.)

Want the least daunting entree of the bunch? Choose the chocolate-covered crickets. They taste just like Kit Kat bars, Carroll noted.

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