The Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentate) is an important and highly valued
food species by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.  They continue
to harvest this species mostly by hand at anadromous migration concentration
sites such as Willamette Falls in Oregon.

Warren W. Aney
Senior Wildlife Ecologist
Tigard, OR

-----Original Message-----
From: Ecological Society of America: grants, jobs, news
[mailto:ECOLOG-L@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU] On Behalf Of David Inouye
Sent: Thursday, 01 May, 2014 15:59
Subject: [ECOLOG-L] Summary of responses about edible parasites

Thanks to the many people who responded, some 
off-list.  Here's a summary so far, of a very interesting topic.

David Inouye

My original message cited pea crabs, parasitic on 
oysters and mussels, (apparently a favorite of George Washington):

and the corn smut huitlachoche.

The lobster mushroom, Hypomyces spp., would be 
another one. It's an ascomycete parasitizing 
basidiomycetes of the Russula genus.
Lobster mushrooms (Hypomyces lactifluorum) are 
fungi which parasitize other fungi, typically 
gilled mushrooms, and they're sometimes 
considered a delicacy by mushroomers.     I 
happen to consider this an absolutely bone-stupid 
thing to do, because the Hypomyces usually 
smothers the host mushroom and makes 
identification impossible--which means anyone who 
eats one is potentially eating Hypomyces and 
something deadly underneath.  But there are 
'shroomers who love their lobsters.

Lamprey has long been considered a delicacy 
enjoyed by royalty.  See for 
an old recipe.  Lamprey pie is still enjoyed in the UK.
King Henry I reportedly died of overindulgence in 
lamprey.  Also see On 4 March 
Elizabeth II's coronation pie was made by the 
Air Force using lampreys.  June 2012 - Queen 
Elizabeth, celebrated the diamond jubilee of her 
ascent to the throne, which marked the 60th 
anniversary of her coronation, was sent a lamprey pie.
I'll admit that I first learned of eating 
lampreys while reading the "Game of Thrones" series....
Also a Finnish delicacy:

Guthrie, R. D. 2005. The Nature of Paleolithic 
Art. University of Chicago Press.
"There are thousands of images that can give us a 
more rounded view of Paleolithic people and their 
times, images that are not customarily shown in 
coffee table volumes.  Take, for example, these 
little wormlike creatures from Paleolithic 
art.  Eskimo from northern Alaska delight in 
eating the large spring maggots, or larvae, of 
the reindeer warble fly, Oedemagena tarandi. I 
suspect Eurasian people did the same in the 
Paleolithic. This is one of the few insects eaten 
by northern people.  When reindeer are killed, 
the hide is skinned back and the warbles are 
exposed on the underside.  They are fat and 
salty, a spring treat: I have tried them several 
times.  During this time of year many people in 
the villages have sore throats from the raspers on the maggots' sides."

Liver flukes, copepods parasitic on fish, 
tapeworms and others are mentioned in this 
address from a President of the American Society of Parasitologists:
Overstreet, R. M. (2003). "Flavor buds and other 
delights." Journal of Parasitology 89(6): 1093-1107.
["flavor buds" = reindeer warble fly larvae],4570,7-153-10370_12150_12220-26639--,00.html 
has a photo of the "little liver" that is a deer 
liver fluke, mentioned in that paper.

This one is used in Chinese medicine:
Ophiocordyceps sinensis

In my mycology class, I mentioned examples of 
parasitic fungi as food and medicine, such as 
succulent stem of Zizania latifolia infected by 
Yenia esculenta (Ustilago esculenta); 
necrotrophic parasites of insect adults, larvae 
or pupae by caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps 
sinensis), certainly including huitlacoche 
infected by corn smut fungus (Ustilago maydis) as well.

Medicinal use of dodder:

It depends on whether you view plant fungal 
endophytes as parasites or mutualists - they can 
be both. I don't know specifically about the 
endophyte load in crop plants, but if it is like 
others then we eat them all the time!

Also, tape worms (Burtiella flanneryi) from the coppery ringtail are eaten..

I would consider oyster mushrooms parasitic when 
they are growing on live trees..

 From an entomologist:  But I have a broader 
definition of parasites than you are probably 
using. Aphids are classic plant parasites - 
smaller than their host, feed on <1 host in their 
lifespan, have chronic but typically non-fatal 
effects on hosts.... etc. Many insect herbivores 
and plant parasites and some are clearly food in other cultures.

Freshwater mussels (Unionoida) parasitic on fish 
as larvae (glochidia), are eaten in some parts of 
the world once they're free-living filter feeding 
adults.  They have not commonly been used as food 
in North America because they're not especially 
palatable, because many are threatened species, 
and often live in polluted streams, rivers, and 
lakes.  I have heard of them being harvested for 
food and even sold in markets in China, just watch out for pearls. 

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