BARICHARA, Colombia (AP) -- The first loud crackle tastes and feels like popcorn, but by the time the juices spray wildly in your mouth and the filament-like legs slide down your throat, there's no mistaking this toasted ant queen.

The people of sun-soaked northern Colombia have been eating ants for centuries. They believe the accurately named "hormiga culona" - big-butt queen ant - is everything from a natural form of Viagra to a protein-rich defense against cancer.

Now the invertebrates are going global: A businessman in Santander province exported more than 880 pounds of the inch-long queen ants last year, many of them to be hand-dipped in Belgian chocolate and sold in fancy packaging at $8 for a half dozen at upscale London department stores like Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.