Water Bugs

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

water bugs also known as water boatmen, insects of the family Corixidae, used as food by the Aztecs (see aztec food).

The bugs themselves were collected in nets, ground, formed into balls, wrapped in maize husks, and cooked. The name for this food was axayacatl.

The bug eggs were called ahuautli, meaning ‘water amaranth’, probably because of their granular texture. They were collected on loosely twined ropes flung into the lake. They could be made into tortillas or tamales or, again, wrapped in maize husks to be toasted. They were said to taste like fish, or caviar.