‘I would kiss them before I eat them’

by Anna Sigrithur

It is nowadays an all-but-forgotten practice, but there is also a Sami tradition of insect-eating. It was never a huge part of their diet, but as Laila emphasises, when you must survive in the arctic, every little thing helps, especially nutrient-dense and, for some, particularly tasty morsels like these—which is why her father taught her to eat the larvae of Hypoderma tarandi, the Reindeer Warble Fly.

 A delightfully sideshow-esque, preserved specimen of a Reindeer Warble Fly larvae still embedded in the fur of the animal.    Image source:  Creative Design UK

 Some warbles on the underside of a freshly skinned caribou hide.      Image source:  Alaska Dep't of Fish and Game

 Traces of the warbles left by the flies still remain after the skin has been processed and tanned. Many of the skins at Laila's showed these marks.    Image source  here

 Illustration of the Ox Warble Fly and its life cycles: the female fly has a telescoping ovipositor that allows her to lay her eggs into the skin, through a thick layer of hair.    Image source:  Wikipedia