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Creepy, crawly and sweet to eat

OWENSBORO — Insect candy isn't for the squeamish, but a museum in Owensboro dished up such treats as ”Crispy Chocolate Cricket Parfait“ and wraps of roasted mealworms to accompany the Big Bug exhibit at the Western Kentucky Botanical Gardens.

Only about two dozen adventurous eaters showed up Sunday to sample the crittery confections, which were offered at a ”Picnicking with the Bugs“ event at the botanical gardens.

Among the pickings: chocolate bites of roasted and ground crickets, suckers with insects embedded inside them and wraps featuring the roasted and diced mealworms.

The event was associated with the Big Bugs exhibit that opened earlier this month at the gardens. It features giant wooden sculptures of insects, some of them up to 15 feet tall and weighing up to 1,200 pounds.

Ian Hart, 4, tried some of the bug food. But he begged his mother, Christy Hart, not to ”eat it all.“

She told the (Owensboro) Messenger-Inquirer that her son didn't know what was in the Crispy Chocolate Cricket Parfait.

”It tastes great,“ she said.

In addition to the picnic, the Owensboro Museum of Science and History is offering candy such as scorpion suckers and Salt-n-Vinegar Crick-ettes in its gift store.

Joyce Taylor of Whitesville sampled some Tomato and Insect Cheese Cups, which included crickets and mealworms.

”It tastes just like regular food,“ she said.

That's the idea, said Todd Reynolds, the museum's programming coordinator and science education director.

Along with other fare, Reynolds offered Wax Poetic Trail Bars made with toasted wax worms, something primarily used as fish bait.

”They're highly valued for their nutritional value and flavor,“ Reynolds said.

Chef Justin Crandall, who owns Pangea Catering, prepared Cricket-and-Potato-Chip Encrusted Pork Loin and Green Tea-Roasted Grub Creme Brulee for the event.

”This is my first time cooking with bugs,“ he said. ”It tastes surprisingly good.“