Much research on prehistoric diets focused on the procurement of meat, i.e. hunting of large animals. This has been considered to be an important socio-cultural aspect in antiquity. McGrew  warns for a skewed picture of early diets. Regarding animal protein, archaeological evidence throughout the world points to a broad diet that included fish, birds, lizards, rodents, rabbits, turtles, crabs, molluscs, and shellfish . Coprolite analyses provide direct evidence also of the consumption of insects e.g. termites and predaceous diving beetles by early American Indians (up to 9,500 B.P.) and ants, dung beetle larvae, and caterpillars in Mexico (> 5,400 B.P.) [ and references therein, see also ].
For an understanding of prehistoric life, archaeologists increasingly consult anthropological studies of traditional forager societies today, such as the !Kun-San of the Kalahari and Australian Aborigines, which are believed to resemble such life most closely [2, 5]. It is increasingly acknowledged that studies on the ecological anthropology of these peoples have usually wrongfully ignored the use of insects as food. The !Kun-San consume termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and ants . Australian Aborigines consume e.g. termites, grasshoppers, moths, caterpillars, beetle larvae, wasp larvae, and ant brood [7–9]. Their practice of entomophagy has decreased though over the past 200 years through western influence .
Some other studies incorporating insect use were conducted in the Amazon Basin [11–13]. The indigenous groups under investigation practice forms of cultivation and horticulture in combination with hunting and gathering. Such combinations in subsistence have been practiced throughout history . These records indicate intensive use of insects as food source. Based on such archaeological and ethnographic records, Sutton  stresses that "... we must expect [original italics] the use of insects in antiquity and so we must subject insect remains to the same examination and analysis that we do for other small animals".
From the perspective of hunting individual animals in relation to their body size, insects can generally be considered low ranked food sources as the return rates (energy gained minus energy costs from searching, handling, and processing) of large animals is higher . Madsen and Schmitt  reason that an increased abundance in such lower ranked resources (e.g. in patches, clumps, and swarms where the collected/hunted unit is no longer an individual) and/or the introduction of mass collecting technology increases their return rates to an equally high or higher level than that of large animals collected individually.
This theory is based on evidence from Lakeside Cave (Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA) where excavations and analyses of faecal remains covering the past 5,000 years indicate a switch from mammal to locust consumption when abundant . Following outbreaks, vast numbers of locusts (e.g. Melanoplus sanguinipes) drowned in the lake and washed up on the shores in windrows numerating to tens-of-thousands, making collection easy. The lake served as a natural collecting mechanism enabling mass collection. The return rates of locusts increased, at least in the direct vicinity of the lake, even with unchanged abundance in large animals. This caused a shift in focus from large, high ranked animals to small, normally low ranked animals . Such locust outbreaks were no annual phenomena, but occurred twice every decade since the 1850s. They have been relatively common yet unpredictable .
In an anthropological study of indigenous populations Steward [in 16] indicates though that in this area small game, i.e. rodents, lizards, and insects, probably already contributed more to the diet than large animals due to the latter's scarcity and lack of occurrence in herds. Families exchanged useful information on locations of those resources including locust concentrations.
Seemingly in line with Madsen and Schmitt's  findings and theory, the Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) was the most reliable summer food source for some Australian Aborigine tribes and preferred over other food sources available at the same time. As Bogong moths naturally congregate by the masses in crevices in rocks and in recesses between rocks in the Australian Alps, large quantities could easily be collected . The traditional Aborigine diet was furthermore overall low in fat [7, 18, 9] and fat-rich grubs and moths such as the Bogong moth may have been important nutritionally . These moths also played a role in socio-cultural aspects: ceremonial life, marriage, and trade. Their collectors are now referred to as moth hunters .
McGrew  points to such importance of energetic efficiency and suggests that a large-brained forager could be able to deal with this issue by means of intelligent strategies making the gathering/collecting of animal protein as productive as the strategies of hunting. Such strategies may have very well included, as it was for various other resources , besides the construction of tools, the manipulation of the environment related to insect procurement [1, 19].
This invites us to review findings of facilitating edible insect procurement beyond the construction of tools and reinterpret environmental manipulation reported in the archaeological and anthropological literature. As examples we use the following semi-cultivated edible insects: eggs of aquatic Hemiptera in Mexico, palm weevil larvae in the Amazon Basin, tropical Africa, and New Guinea, and arboreal, foliage consuming caterpillars in sub-Saharan Africa.
The prime source of literature was the entomophagy bibliography of the authors containing more than 1500 publications (the majority peer reviewed) of which more than 600 publications deal specifically with edible insects and the human practice of entomophagy - eating insects. The aforementioned examples were chosen based on the amount of information available. Additional information on these examples was collected via internet search engines. This review excludes edible insects that are primarily semi-cultivated or domesticated for their products such as bees, wasps, and silkworms.