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The Official Entomophagy Thread! (Eating Bugs)

 
pollinator
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Kim Goodwin wrote:

The best, in my tastes, are aphids.  Aphids grown on something you'd like to eat, specifically.  Not a poisonous plant - no aphids off a datura, for example.  Aphids off roses taste a bit like roses, aphids off brassicas have that slight brassica bite to them.  Aphids are sweet and quite innocuous.  And sometimes there can be quite a lot of them.  Whenever someone asks me how to deal with aphids, I suggest eating them, but thus far it has been one of my less popular recommendations.

Ants have that formic acid taste, and I didn't find them very pleasant to eat.



How did you eat aphids? Raw right with a leaf? I have some right now on my volunteer watermelon leaf, but not sure, if watermelon leaves are edible...:)
Ants how much I understand are best for making lemonade.
 
gardener
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Joy Oasis wrote:

How did you eat aphids? Raw right with a leaf? I have some right now on my volunteer watermelon leaf, but not sure, if watermelon leaves are edible...:)
Ants how much I understand are best for making lemonade.



Yes, I'd just eat them with or without leaves included.  But if you bring them in the house keep in mind they can escape and get on your houseplants.  That's a real pain to deal with.

Now I'm curious if anyone has tried tomato or tobacco hornworms?  Meaning hornworms that have only eaten a tomato plant, not a potato or tobacco or datura, etc.  Nothing too poisonous.

I collected a bunch today off a tomato plant.  I don't currently have birds, so I had nothing I knew to do with them.  I re-homed (hahaha) most of them on some wild nightshades and a tomato that isn't doing well.  I prefer to not kill things that I don't eat.

And that got me thinking - what if they are edible?

I came upon this recipe on the website Bert Christensen's Weird & Different Recipes:  Fried Green Tomato Hornworms

It even had an image.



Bert also has recipes for Fried Slug Fritters, Root Worm Beetle Dip, Ant Brood Tacos, and a whole host more of very unusual recipes.  A dessert looked good: Ant Venom Jellies

Sort of like Turkish Delight for anteaters.  Or ant eaters.
hornworms.jpg
Tobacco hornworms (I think) that were on a tomato plant
Tobacco hornworms (I think) that were on a tomato plant
 
pollinator
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A major Canadian grocery retailer (Real Canadian Superstore) now sells cricket powder. Not cheap though, at CAD $13.26 per 100 grams. That's roughly USD $10 for 3-1/2 ounces (dry weight).

 
Joy Oasis
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If recipe says so, they must be safe to eat. If you decided to eat them, let us now, how did it go.
 
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I hope this forum is still alive.  I dropped Facebook and my Wild Edibles of Missouri with over 32,000 members and my Missouri Entomophagy group with around 5,000.  I do public promotional programs on both topics and still want to keep my finger on the pulse of what's going on.  Did nine programs for my local public library system and a youth camp for girls in June, and have two libraries and a scout group lined up in July.  And, of course, I've got a couple annual presentations, one of which is featured in the back of David George Gordon's "Eat-a-Bug Cookbook".   AND, that map published by the UN is not right.  It shows the USA with, at best, 25 species of edibles insects.  I've got way more than that, just in my yard --possibly close to that many beetle species alone.
 
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Yes! we need more activity here, I really wish we could focus more on edible grubs.
Bee larvae is often forgotten, beekeepers sometimes want to get rid of the future "males" (?) and if you are lucky, some beekeeper are happy to give them away for free.
 
master steward
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I too find this thread interesting.  I admit that the closest I have come to eating insects was the box of chocolate covered grasshoppers I bought in the 8th grade.
 
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Ate crickets once, fried in butter. Was part of a survival class : )
Saw this guy today.. I don't think I could eat it though.
https://vimeo.com/581667854
Maybe chocolate-covered?
 
Paul Landkamer
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By grubs I'll guess you mean just about any sort of little worm?  Ragweed and corn stalk borers edible and good.  Bagworms (different from fall webworms and tent caterpillars, which are also edible, but irritatingly fuzzy) are good, and if picked off junipers/cedars, they've got a fairly strong gin-like flavor.  I cut down and harvest paper wasp larvae --mud daubers aren't really worth the mess.  Acorn weevil grubs are easy to collect...  Or am I way off with this?  I don't particularly care for the white beetle grubs found when gardening.  I find them lots better after they've become adults.
 
gardener
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chestnut weevil grubs are similarly very easy to collect, but you get more chestnut if you kill them sooner in the cycle!
 
Paul Landkamer
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That's a bad thing about tomato/tobacco hornworms, too.  Gotta let 'em get bigger to make 'em worth picking, but they kill the plants if you don't get 'em tiny...
 
greg mosser
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you think they can transplanted to other plant relatives? maybe i’ll move a hornworm onto horsenettles if i find any.
 
Paul Landkamer
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I know they eat both tomatoes and peppers --probably tobacco and other nightshades? I don't know if they'd be safe on the toxics.  Horse nettle (common names are fun --the thorny low grower with the yellow 'berries', right?) is among the toxics.
 
Paul Landkamer
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Spotted 4 army worms out by some patchy dead grass.  Picked 'em up and went in and got my collection jar.  Got about 50 before it started raining.  They sure seemed to like hanging around the crabgrass.  They're in the freezer now.
 
Paul Landkamer
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Doll Divas Forum  Yeah, an odd sounding URL, but bear with me.  This Permies forum doesn't seem to like me to drag and drop files, so I had to create a URL and throw in some dolls, or, action figures to appropriatize (yep, a new word) the post for the forum.  The link has a bunch of book recommendations for you!
 
steward
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I merged your stuff with the following thread. I hope that is okay by you.
 
pollinator
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This all started for me when I was talking to George Beccaloni, an Entomologist specializing in cockroaches, a few years ago. I met him in a pottery group on facebook back when I still used the platform. And we discussed at length the properties of cockroaches as a dietary supplement for livestock. I haven't ever actually grown the little buggers yet, had too many early farmstead projects to do to have time for it. But I'll get to it eventually. In any case, I was trying to formulate a feed program for pigs and I looked into the nutrition facts for multiple insect meats, and an idea hit me... What if I ate some bugs? So I ordered some chapulines online. These are fried grasshoppers coated in spices and lime juice which are a popular snack in Oaxaca, Mexico. And I dug out a can of silk worms grandma had got by accident from an asian market because it was next to the canned eel that she actually wanted. And I tried them. And I liked them. Then I tried crickets, and they were good too. And local grasshoppers were good. And locusts were good. And pill bugs were good despite being the size of tic-tacs. Cicada pupae and meal worms were good too. And so were Japanese Beetle grubs. It opened up a whole new world of culinary possibilities for me. My favorite will likely always be grasshoppers, I love the crispy texture and shrimpy flavor. My old favorite beer snack was fish and squid jerky, being smoked, dehydrated, and pounded; it's great with a lighter colored beer. But grasshoppers are even better. I even put them in my trail-mix now.

So I have to ask, if you had the opportunity to eat bugs that absolutely wouldn't make you sick, would you try them? I get why people are scared. I was too scared to try for a long time. But once I tried that first bug, it was a gateway bug. The essence of permaculture is to turn a problem into a solution. So if we have a grasshopper problem, why not turn the kids loose on it with butterfly nets and have Bouncy BurgersTM for dinner?

Simply stuff all the grasshoppers in a pillowcase, tie the top shut, and freeze them. Then pick off the legs and wings and pan toast or pan fry them. Blitz in a blender and mix the powder into some pork or beef ground meat. Add a lot of garlic, and pan fry the burgers. Then make demi-glace out of bbq sauce, red wine, and meat grease and...BOOM, Dinner. Nothing creepy to see, no weirdness, just tasty meat.

If there is any interest, I'll provide additional recipes. Those with a shellfish allergy should not eat insects.
 
pollinator
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I've tried commercially prepared bugs and found them horribly bitter, totally inedible.  Do you like cabbage and brussel sprouts? I wonder if it's one of those genetic taste things.

I think one of the main issues with bugs is just how small they are. the grasshoppers here are 1/2 inch long and not swarming by any means. I would throw a prawn that sized back to grow some more.
 
greg mosser
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i’ve collected grasshoppers for flour and raised mealworms for…well, meal…as well as other assorted crawlies.

these days i mostly process insects through my chickens.
 
Ruth Jerome
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Skandi Rogers wrote:I've tried commercially prepared bugs and found them horribly bitter, totally inedible.  Do you like cabbage and brussel sprouts? I wonder if it's one of those genetic taste things.

I think one of the main issues with bugs is just how small they are. the grasshoppers here are 1/2 inch long and not swarming by any means. I would throw a prawn that sized back to grow some more.



Ours are the size of jumbo shrimp. And they're not bitter at all if they're fresh. I've only noticed bitterness on ones that sat around a looooong time. You probably had old stale ones.

I also think genetics is probably not the issue, since we're distantly related I'm mostly Norwegian, Irish, and Swedish. And my Irish family is from the east, where the vikings colonized the island. Though part of my Norwegian ancestry is Northern Sami from Finnmark og Troms (or is it Troms og Finnmark?), they don't eat insects though, so I don't see that being a mitigating factor. Lots of smoked reindeer up that-away.

And yes, I do like cabbage. Who doesn't love cabbage?
 
Skandi Rogers
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:I've tried commercially prepared bugs and found them horribly bitter, totally inedible.  Do you like cabbage and brussel sprouts? I wonder if it's one of those genetic taste things.

I think one of the main issues with bugs is just how small they are. the grasshoppers here are 1/2 inch long and not swarming by any means. I would throw a prawn that sized back to grow some more.



Ours are the size of jumbo shrimp. And they're not bitter at all if they're fresh. I've only noticed bitterness on ones that sat around a looooong time. You probably had old stale ones.

I also think genetics is probably not the issue, since we're distantly related I'm mostly Norwegian, Irish, and Swedish. And my Irish family is from the east, where the vikings colonized the island. Though part of my Norwegian ancestry is Northern Sami from Finnmark og Troms (or is it Troms og Finnmark?), they don't eat insects though, so I don't see that being a mitigating factor. Lots of smoked reindeer up that-away.

And yes, I do like cabbage. Who doesn't love cabbage?



Me I hate it, my mother likes it and sprouts. Apparently there is a genetic reason why some people do not like brassicas and others do, if you can taste the bitterness you most likely won't like them, I wondered if the insects might be the same, I think it was mealworms I tried in a bar form blech. I would try other insects but I don't see myself farming or eating them, they look a lot more work for the reward than they are worth
 
pollinator
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I love them. They make excellent bar snacks. The best I’ve had were in northern Thailand - field crickets, deep fried and served with chilli, ginger, garlic and a local fermented sauce. Divine. They’re just like shrimp with a great crunch. Shrimp are just aquatic bugs after all. I’d much rather buy and cook crickets for stir fries than shrimp.

I wish people would stop focusing on fake meats and embrace bugs instead. If you want ‘animal’ protein, then insects have a very small carbon footprint and fast breeding cycle. It’s too big a jump though. Most people want their animal protein in a convenient format and are too squeamish to butcher a store bought chicken, so bugs are going to be fringe or just added to cheap processed foods.  
 
pollinator
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Howdy,

I notice bugs in my homegrown blue corn and I am still grinding up for cornmeal, as in skillet corn bread. Not bad, if I may say so. More Protein. But is it still vegie?
 
pioneer
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I've eaten quite a number of things. The usual stuff like crickets and mealworms, but also scorpions, giant water bugs, dung beetles, ants, mole crickets, silk worms, praying mantis, bamboo worms, stink bugs, sago worms, grasshoppers, snails, etc.

I'm not a a huge fan of larvae in general, especially those that feed on vegetation. They tend to taste grassy and are a bit "juicier" than I'd prefer, but things like mealworms are fine. Can confirm that exploding insects are a thing. I fried my first mealworms a bit aggressively and they exploded.

I found the snails I ate (which came from the frozen section of an Asian market) to be a bit gritty for my liking. I'm not sure if that was remnants of their diet, or eggs, or what.

Honestly, I prefer the carnivores, but that's not especially efficient if you're growing them for food. And even though praying mantises taste like bacon and sauteed mushrooms, I hate to eat them when they could be out protecting my garden instead. Seems like a waste.

I started an entomophagy wiki over a decade ago and was converting a list of several hundred species of insects that were known to be eaten historically around the world. I've since lost that PDF and do not remember the source, though I'm sure it's still out there somewhere. Just harder to find now that there are far more resources on entomophagy on the internet.

I remember my grandfather telling me a story growing up. He didn't live on the reservation but had friends that did and talked about them cooking up a pot of beans full of bugs and how, in his opinion, disgusting it was. As an adult with an interest in entomophagy, I've often wondered if they were eating the bugs by choice, or if they were just so poor that they couldn't afford to throw out the beans once they were infested. And that's a question I'll never have an answer to.

Stink bugs are probably one of the better candidates in my area given the numbers of invasives that can amass and how annoying they are. It's not as bad as it sounds. Simply knock them into a container of hot water and that will kill them and neutralize the odor. Then just season and bake (or possibly fry, though I personally haven't tried that.) They have a pretty neutral flavor, contrary to what you might think.
 
Ruth Jerome
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Mathew Trotter wrote:
Stink bugs are probably one of the better candidates in my area given the numbers of invasives that can amass and how annoying they are. It's not as bad as it sounds. Simply knock them into a container of hot water and that will kill them and neutralize the odor. Then just season and bake (or possibly fry, though I personally haven't tried that.) They have a pretty neutral flavor, contrary to what you might think.



I'd think their larvae would be better. If you gut load beetle grubs with corn meal, then kill them in boiling salted water, then deep fry them, they're quite potato-ish in texture if they're mealworms (Darkling Beetle grubs), or more shrimp-textured if they're Japanese Beetle grubs. The Japanese Beetle grubs have to be de-pooped like a shrimp has to be. There's a sack of poo they hold onto until stressed, which is when they squirt it out. It makes them taste bad if you cook them with that, so I freeze them to kill, then cut that bit off, being careful not to cut into it, and fry them. They're good in cocktail sauce or with dill and butter.
 
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Hi Scott,

I just started a thread for free training on small scale and commercial mealworm production. A biologist in Australia who has been breeding for 14 years set it up for organizations. I thought you would like to look him up, as he has training on grasshopper and cockroach production.

Scott Farmer wrote:Hi everyone! I know I'm new around these parts, but I am eager to get some minds together on the fascinating topic of Entomophagy!  Please post any interesting info you find, and definitely keep us updated on any experiments you are doing in this field! There is not a lot of info out there on the topic, and I would very much like to see that change!

I first ate bugs as part of my diet (and not just on a dare) while doing some agriculturally oriented missionary work in Africa (personally, I was more interested in feeding people than saving their souls). Several nights during the termite mating season, we would turn on the church generators and light the place up like a landing strip. That being the only electricity in at least 5 miles, millions and millions of termites descended on the windows and floodlights. The whole village turned out and people were collecting buckets, bags, and baskets full of termites, all the while talking and laughing with neighbors and enjoying handfuls of the termites raw, wings and all. I tried a few raw and probably won't do that again, but the ones I took home and lightly sauteed with some onions were actually quite good!

After pondering raising bugs for myself I found a good TEDx talk on Entomophagy (TEDx Talk) and was delighted to know that I wasn't alone in my interest. There are many new insect farming efforts going on all over the world, to fill the void between demand and wild-harvested. The feed conversion rates for insects are outstanding, and for every 10 pounds of feed we can get 9 pounds of a foodstuff high in protein, vitamins and minerals!

I plan on starting a small mealworm farm in the next few weeks. I am not worried about profits at this point, just fascination and education, but why shouldn't there be grasshopper or mealworm appetizers on happy hour menus across the country!? I might see if I can at least regain my costs through local sales to reptile owners and whatnot, and maybe try to drum up some human interest while manning farmer's market booths this season.



Thanks in advance for your input!

 
pollinator
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Be cautious about any insects that are crustaceans. If you are allergic to shellfish there’s a high chance you’ll react to those.
 
greg mosser
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no real insects are also crustaceans, they’re different groups, but i appreciate that some things that the general populace think of as ‘bugs’ are actually crustaceans- terrestrial isopods/sow bugs/wood lice/roly-polies are the obvious example.

if what people have a problem with is chitin (which is in both insects and crustacea), then i’d agree that both should be avoided.
 
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I'm all for adding bugs to the diet. I have eaten grasshoppers and mealworms. Thinking of raising my own mealworms at some point.

My brother lives on the east coast where Green Tomato Hornworms are a nuisance to tomato plants. He picks them, fries them, and makes tacos out of them. I haven't tried them yet, but he says they taste just like green tomatoes. What a great way to make use of a pest!
 
pollinator
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I'm simply gonna hurl.

 
pollinator
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Man, this is one provocative thread!!  So even though I have only eaten the occasional in-flying, (by accident) I feel the need to chime in:

For Kim Goodwin (eating aphids) - how do you do that?!?  They are not only tiny, but soft-bodied and easy to squish; all I can think up is to suck them up with a straw...and try not to inhale them!!

In general it was said that perhaps insects are too labor intensive to farm; but in that case, maybe there wouldn't be so many at that Thai market...I wonder what their methods are (farmed vs collected)

A point I think we must make here is that you need to be aware of where you are/what is nearby: perhaps a field that has recently been sprayed with agricultural chemicals may not kill every sort of insect, but leave some alive or even, horrifyingly lethargic and easy to catch.  Just a feeling.  Definitely safe to roll a log and pluck up the grubs from underneath; other ways who knows, in our poisonous little corner of the world...

I am certain that people ate the locusts, when they swarmed in and ate up their food crops.  It is not mentioned in ancient accounts like the Bible;  but no doubt because it was secondary to the story, and also something normal.

You can get cricket flour on Amazon.

Mosquitoes are too small to bother with, and that is a very good thing, as they carry all sorts of viruses.  Viruses can be hard to kill...and of course if you have a female that has eaten, she is full of human blood!!  I am wondering what other insects (besides ticks) might be disease vectors...?

Ladybugs are TOTALLY NOXIOUS!!!  As are stink bugs; and those little flying guys they call "love bugs"...just as not all animals are good for food (woodchuck, lookin at you) not all insects would be either; and so if we collect, it would be good to get familiar with what we have in our area, that is edible.



 
Betsy Carraway
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We used to have chickens.  When June bugs swarmed we'd swipe them up in a net.  They would fasten themselves to the net and to one another in a ball.  Very hard to get out of the net but it was productive.  A sheet hung up outside in the dark, with a bright light on it, is probably the best way to get these; you could pull the sheet taut and into a funnel, so they'd fall into a bucket.  

Then you can give them to the chooks...unless June bugs are another edible.  Anyone know?

In some parts of the country, Japanese beetles are very numerous, especially if you have roses.  Are those edible?  But then people spray their roses...

Just some thoughts.
 
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Betsy Carraway wrote:Ladybugs are TOTALLY NOXIOUS!!!  As are stink bugs; and those little flying guys they call "love bugs"...just as not all animals are good for food (woodchuck, lookin at you) not all insects would be either; and so if we collect, it would be good to get familiar with what we have in our area, that is edible.



as noted in an earlier post in this thread, stink bugs are actually totally edible, and they’re not hard to de-stink. definitely one to avoid eating raw, though!  for what it’s worth, i’ve had woodchuck that was excellent too - harvested in the right time of year, prepared appropriately (definitely watch out for the musk glands!), they can be quite good.

 
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I've been able to push myself to add small amounts of insects and invertebrates from my gardening into my stew, where they are just about unnoticeable.  I drop them into the boiling water like lobster to kill them as quickly and humanely as possible.  

Of course, I kill / eat only the ones that are harmful or would not survive being returned to the earth, like May and June beetle grubs...which need to be cooked for a while to soften their crunchy heads.  Any land snails I accidentally step on get frozen to put them out of their misery, and then cooked, with as much of the shell removed (or it's like bits of crunchy eggshell).  

I save my most predatory Entomophagy for invasive species like Japanese beetle larvae...and especially "Asian Crazy / Jumping Worms," which have become a sudden plague at my place.  Any worms I accidentally dig up go into a cup with shallow water, especially the scary squirming ones.  A lid with a one-inch hole in its center allows them to be dropped in but keeps them from getting out. Once I'm ready to cook, the ones that have tried to crawl out are the enemy.  The trick is to try to rinse them and avoid bits of dirt in my food.  The sluggish worms can be returned to a shady, moist spot - they may also be non-native, but they are nothing like the multiflora rose / shrub honeysuckle / callery pear of invertebrates.  
 
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Sorry, but no thanks. NO WAYYYY!
I'm chewing/eating plants  that will supply all that body may need anyway. The idea of....eating insects hitchhikes up my gag reflex.
I am fascinated by insects, often taking pictures of them, and so on, but to eat any? No frigging way!
 
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I ate and enjoyed crickets, in landlocked northern Japan where long ago they were a good source of protein. roasted crunchy with caramelized sugar and salt, a nice snack.

I also ate roasted silkworms (beondegi) from a street vendor in Korea in what was practically a Ratatouille moment-- the smell called me for blocks on a cold winter evening, I didn't speak or read Korean but knew that whatever that thing was, I was going to have some. They were fabulous. Like a peanut crossed with a shrimp, warm and crunchy, absolutely amazing. I've had them since outside of Korea but they've never been as good.
 
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