Eating ‘Hormigas Culonas’ – Colombian Ants With A Large Arse

San Gil, Colombia

Hormigas Culonas, which aptly translates to ‘Ants With A Large Arse’, is a Colombian snack that’s only available in the Santander region of the country, and only within a small time frame. The thing is, the ants only come out of their nesting ground for 1 or 2 days out of the year – thus the rarity and the relatively high price tag (1 kg = 50-60000 COP)

We’re lucky that we got to the Santander region during the time (April – May) when these ants are widely available.

When I first heard about it, I couldn’t wait to try it. I also couldn’t wait to try to get Jack to eat it. See, he’s somewhat of a finicky eater so it should be fun to try to cajole and bribe him to try it. So I was super excited that when we mentioned this to our couchsurfing host in San Gil, he brought out a bottle of these toasted giant ants.

A bottle of Hormigas Culonas

However, I was somewhat disappointed when it didn’t take that much convincing at all for Jack to try it ( he wouldn’t eat mushroom, but he’d eat THAT?) Sometimes he surprises me.

Jack eating an Hormigas Culonas

‘It’s just like eating the shell of a peanut. Salty and crunchy,’ he said.
‘Like eating a pork rind,’ a fellow Couchsurfer added.

Jill vs A Hormiga Culona

Then it was my turn.

Jill vs A Hormiga Culona

Even though you’ll never hear me eat snake heart, balut, and other challenging world delicacies, I knew I could handle an ant. Everybody and their aunts seems to have a story about eating ants as part of their traveling experience. So, hey, I can do this too.

I picked up an Hormiga Culona and placed it on my palm. Then I peered in to take a closer look at it.

Big mistake.

An up close and personal Hormiga Culona
An up close and personal Hormiga Culona

It just looked too much like an ant (why can’t they roll it up in dough or something like that?).

And it’s just so big.

Then I realized that I was holding a giant insect. A dead, giant insect. And oh wait, don’t I hate bugs? I do hate bugs. Aaaaaarggggh!

I got all squeamish and handed the thing over quickly to Jack (being aware at how expensive it is I didn’t want to just fling it to the air and to oblivion like I originally wanted to). I couldn’t even hold it even more.

This is now the part where I hung my head in shame and admitted that I couldn’t do it.

I’d scale a mountain and brave a harsh Alaskan landscape, but there is no way I’d put an insect – fat-assed or not – in my mouth. I’m not that kind of person.

I’ll stick with ice cream.

Colombian 'cholado' - a heavenly concoction of fruit, ice cream, and condensed milk
Colombian 'cholado' - a heavenly concoction of fruit, ice cream, and condensed milk

Hope you’d forgive me.

Tell us

What’s the most adventurous things you’ve eaten? How about the most adventurous thing you’ve almost eaten?

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42 Replies to “Eating ‘Hormigas Culonas’ – Colombian Ants With A Large Arse”

  1. Hi Jill-

    You should have tried one! I'm not into bugs either,
    but felt it had to be done. We tried them in San Gil, too.
    Was interesting to find out the crunchy sacs they crisp up
    for a crunchy snack are the pregnant females' egg sacs! Yum!

    We finished a year of traveling Central and South America in April 2011.
    Ecuador & Colombia were some of our favorite countries. Just read your
    Vilcabamba post and had a laugh – we thought there was a strange vibe there, too.

    We started our journey through Southeast Asia in May.
    Flew into Bangkok & worked our way through eastern part of Thailand,
    Malaysia, Singapore & now Indonesia. Which company did you guys use to see Bromo?
    Trying to find a good one – we've read some real horror stories.

    Hope you guys are enjoying South America – we loved it!

    Happy travels!

  2. I'm not so into eating bugs either. I have eaten sting ray, shark fin soup and a whole lot of mystery meat, but that's about the most adventurous I have gone. If someone sticks it in front of me though, generally I will try it. Just don't tell me what it is!

  3. Oh yeah, it was that close up look that got you. If it makes you feel better I don't think I could do it either. I don't care how good it tastes!

  4. That's exactly how I played it in my head too – the hair legs, the big buggy eyes, especially the hair legs! Ugh.

    1. Thanks for sharing the process! Very interesting and love the family aspect of preparing it. But I still think I'll pass 🙂

  5. Blech!! I am glad you did NOT eat it! I stayed in San Gil a few months ago and didn't even try. I feel the same way – I've had cod sperm sacs, bull penis, goat, snake, frog, tripe, pig face, but NO WAY am i eating crunchy insects. BLECH! We have to have some limits!!
    I'm with you Jill!!

    1. Glad to hear that 🙂 Although honestly I thought of all the 'weird' things people eat during their travel, ants would be ones I could at least try. Hah, apparently not 🙂

  6. I'm so totally with you Jill! After seeing the picture of the ant up close, there's no way I could go through with it. Ice cream all the way!

    1. It wasn't even the biggest ant in the jar. There were larger, freakier looking ones. Ha, glad you agree with me, Sheryll 🙂

  7. Well, I have seen it in the Discovery channel and Nat Geo Tv shows but I had never imagined that you people will be going to try that, yet the better part is that they are believed to be rich sources of proteins, so at least you have got some proteins for you.

  8. Don't worry, I would have never eaten that thing either. In China I've seen many mouth-watering delicacies, such as worms, crickets, snakes and all sorts of beetles, and although they *must* be truly delicious, I was never tempted to taste one. I wonder whether I'll have the nerve to try some if I stay in China longer…

    1. I have no doubt that China has some interesting delicacies. Now whether or not they must be delicious, I don't know … 🙂 I've tried fermented soybean before (pbbly the most adventurous veggie I've tried) and I have no doubt it's an acquired taste – to put it mildly.

  9. I know for an absolute fact I would not eat a bug unless I was about to die! I'll be right behind you at the ice cream counter.

    Most adventurous thing I've eaten is something mundane like squid or a blood sausage ravioli. Yea I know, I'm boring when it comes to food!

    1. Lol, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one squeamish about eating bugs. But I don't think being able to eat blood sausage – anything makes you a boring eater, Debbie. That's pretty adventurous in my book.

  10. Oh good lord, that thing is scary looking!! I'm with you–ice cream all the way. I did once eat a silk worm in Laos–in a way I felt obliged so I did it. Not to mention, the guy we were with was popping them like cheetos. ugh, it was awful!

  11. That is too funny…I tried eating fried grasshoppers when we were in Malaysia…that resulted in my gag reflex going berserk. I definitely feel your pain…I too am a pretty picky eater…my African diet could be interesting!

  12. Hi Jack and Jill,

    Just letting you know your posts have inspired my heart to keep traveling, even as I work in a 9 to 5 job, or have worked in it for 6 months, I am waiting for my next trip! I read all of your posts and am hungry to go travel again! 🙂

    Thanks for your inspiration!

    1. Thanks for the kind word, Rebekka. Means a lot to us. Cheers and let us know when you depart on your next big trip. We'll be following along.

  13. oh thank goodness it's not just me! I am quite adventurous, and i LOVE food…but there are certain things i just will not do – eating bugs are one of them. thanks for your honesty and enjoy the ice cream! 🙂

  14. That is a massive ant ass! The guide told me about these when I was on my lost city trek and I was disappointed that I didn't get to try them. I imagine they would go nice with a beer. Right on Jack for giving it a go!

  15. Nope. That is not for me either. I am not adventurous at all, and bugs are DEFINITELY off the list. They are even off of Pete's too, and he eats everything.

    His most adventurous eats (because I don't do it!) have so far been stewed iguana (here) and fried guinea pig in southern Peru. I almost turned vegetarian watching him eat them.

  16. Hahahaha, I like to say that I'll eat all this crazy stuff when I go on my trip but I'm pretty certain I'll react just like you Jill and scream and run away! Brrrr, makes me shudder!

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