The Wikipedia article on Fascioloides magna (giant liver fluke) claims that the parasitic species was once consumed primarily in Wisconsin and to a lesser extent in other parts of North America:

In North America, especially in Wisconsin, flukes found inside deer livers are sometimes consumed by humans, sautéed in butter. They are served as 'liver butterflies', 'little livers' or 'little flapjacks'."

The Wikipedia passage cites a 2010 scholarly article, When parasites become prey: ecological and epidemiological significance of eating parasites.. The article has a sentence with no accompanying citation:

In Wisconsin, giant liver flukes (Fascioloides magna), which achieve a length of 8 cm inside deer, are sautéed in butter and served as ‘liver butterflies.’

However, a search on Google Books for "liver butterflies" only brings up a single passage lacking a citation in a textbook titled Parasitology: A Conceptual Approach that gives the same description of these parasitic organisms being eaten in North America. A search on Google for "eating liver fluke" does not bring up any other sources for the consumption of this parasite that does not infect humans and only brings up descriptions of unintentional exposures to other species of flukes that sicken humans and led to infections.

Are there any well-attested and historically supported sources for the intentional consumption of this parasitic organism by humans in any culture?

1 Answer 1


Yes, according to Parasitism: Diversity of and Ecology of Animal Parasites (2001):

In the southeastern United States , local residents refer to F. magna as 'swamp butterflies' and are said to deep-fry them like they would hush puppies

There is more-detailed information in Presidential Address: Flavor Buds and Other Delights The Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 89, No. 6 (Dec., 2003), pp. 1093-1107.

The president, the late Robin M. Overstreet, cites information concerning Wisconsin consumption by hunters to the late William Font, who was a professor at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Information concerning consumption in Georgia is cited to the late Elon E. Byrd, who was a professor at the University of Georgia. Information concerning consumption by hunters of the Sioux Nation, especial Lakota Sioux of the Rosebud Reservation in Nebraska is cited to "D. Holiday". Consumption in Louisiana is also discussed without citation.

There is also a 17 October 1976 article in The Daily News of Port Angles, Washington titled Elk increased under forest reserve plan where the author describes witnessing hunters frying elk liver for breakfast together with the flukes with the misunderstanding that the flukes are a part of the liver, but the author being under orders not to tell hunters about liver flukes.

The article Parks confront parasite threat in the 20 October 1989 Calgary Herald quotes Margo Pybus as saying:

Many hunters eat infected livers referring to the flukes as "little livers" or "white meats"

  • Do you have any information as to whether or not these parasites are still consumed by humans today? If so, where are they consumed today? If not, when did their consumption cease?
    – Galactic
    Mar 20 at 6:17
  • @Galactic Overstreet said he tried to confirm current (2003) consumption in Louisiana but was unable to find any. He said his information about Louisiana was from 30 years prior, so early 1970's or before. William Font was at Wisconsin about 1975-85 and the address specifies that "old-timer" hunters did this. Elon Byrd died in 1974. So I'm not aware of any current consumption.
    – DavePhD
    Mar 20 at 12:27
  • @Galactic "D. Holiday" is almost certainly "Dan M. Holiday" linkedin.com/in/dan-holiday-a47aa78 You could try asking him about the Lakota Sioux consumption.
    – DavePhD
    Mar 20 at 15:54
  • @Galactic I added a 1989 reference from the Calgary, Canada area.
    – DavePhD
    Mar 21 at 23:03

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