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Dear Feedback,

I would like to comment on the article "Fried water beetles" by Yvonne Sadovy in the recent issue of Porcupine! (issue 30) p.8. Yvonne reported on an article that discussed Cybister water beetles consumed in Guangdong. The article, from a book by Bodenheimer (1951), noted that the water beetles were hatched in special nursery because they were rare in the province due to insufficient habitats. However, I found Bodenheimer's rationale to be weak since these beetles live in paddy fields, pools, reservoirs and streams (Hill et al., 1982; Lin, 1991) and there are still plenty of suitable habitats left in Guangdong. Cybister water beetles used to be abundant in Hong Kong and were captured and sold as food (Hill et al., 1982). This practice seemed to have stopped locally around 1970's but even in the early 1990's whenever I walked under the Bonham Road flyover in autumn mornings, I could find several individuals under each street lamp. Even in fairly urbanised Hong Kong back then, this species was not rare. Raising wild animals for food has gained a lot of popularity in mainland China and many handbooks (ranging from raising scorpions to turtles) are now for sale in bookshops. However, none of the ones I have seen mention raising Cybister beetles, further suggesting that this is not being carried out.


Bodenheimer, F.S. (1951). Insects as human food - a chapter of the ecology of man. W. Junk Publishers, Netherlands.

Hill, D.S., Hore, P. & Thornton, I.W.B. (1982). Insects of Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong.

Lin, L. (1991). Guangxi Medicinal Animals. Guangxi Scientific & Technological Press, Nanning (in Chinese).

Michael Lau





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