Advertisement

International Journal of Tropical Insect Science

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 163–185 | Cite as

Insects as Food in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • A. van HuisEmail author
Review Article

Abstract

Data on insects as food in sub-Saharan Africa were collected by reviewing the literature and conducting interviews in a number of African countries. A list of about 250 edible insect species from Africa was compiled. Of these, 78 percent are Lepidoptera (30%), Orthoptera (29%) and Coleoptera (19%), and 22 percent Isoptera, Homoptera, Hymenoptera, Heteroptera, Diptera and Odonota. Insects are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, and a good source of iron and B-vitamins. Examples of insects being toxic are given, but often traditional methods are used to remove the poison. Whether or not insects are eaten depends not only on taste and nutritional value, but also on customs, ethnic preferences or prohibitions. The harvesting of insects is often done by women. The way of collecting depends on insects’ behaviour. For example, inactivity at low temperatures enables easy catching of locusts and grasshoppers in the morning. Night flyers (termites, some grasshoppers) can be lured into traps by light and some insects like palm weevils can be attracted to artificially created breeding sites. Some species (crickets, cicadas) can be located by the sound they make. A number of tools are used to facilitate capturing such as glue, sticks, nets and baskets. Because most insects are only seasonally available, preservation by drying is often practised. Some examples of how to prepare them as food are given from important insect groups.

To manage insects in the interest of food security more attention should be given to environmentally sustainable harvesting methods. They should be made better available throughout the year by developing improved conservation methods or by farming this minilivestock. Considering the economic, nutritional and ecological advantages of this traditional food source, its promotion deserves more attention both from national governments and assistance programmes.

Key Words

sub-Saharan Africa entomophagy edible insects insects as food 

Résumé

Des données sur le rôle des insectes dans l’alimentation humaine ont été collectées dans la littérature et lors d’enquêtes effectuées dans un certain nombre de pays africains. Une liste d’environ 250 insectes comestibles a été établie. Soixante dix-huit pour cent sont des Lépidoptères (30%), Orthoptères (29%) et Coléoptères (19%) et 22% sont des Isoptères, Homoptères, Hyménoptères, Hétéroptères, Diptères et Odonotes. Les insectes sont riches en protéines, vitamines et minéraux et sont des sources importantes de fer et de vitamine B. Des examples d’insectes toxiques sont cités mais dans de nombreux cas des méthodes traditionnelles sont utilisées pour éliminer les toxines. Les insectes sont consommés ou non en fonction des traditions, des préférences ethniques ou des interdictions. La récolte des insectes est souvent effectuée par les femmes. La façon de récolter dépend du comportement des insectes, par exemple, l’inactivité de certains insectes à basse température (criquets et sauterelles) les rend vulnérables à la récolte le matin; les insectes nocturnes volants (termites, certaines sauterelles) peuvent être piégés avec la lumière; certains insectes tels que les vers du palmier peuvent être attirés par des sites de pontes artificiels; les insectes chanteurs (criquet, cigales) peuvent être localisés par les sons qu’ils produisent. Un certain nombre d’outils, tels que la glue, des bâtons, des filets et des paniers peuvent être utilisés pour faciliter la capture. Certains insectes étant disponibles seulement à certaines saisons, la conservation par séchage et souvent pratiquée. Des exemples de recettes d’insectes sont donnés pour les groupes d’insectes les plus importants.

L’exploitation des insectes dans une optique de sécurité alimentaire demande qu’une attention particulière soit portée aux méthodes de récolte respectueuses de l’environnement. Les insectes comestibles devraient être disponibles tout au long de l’année par l’amélioration des méthodes de conservation ou par création de mini élevages de ces arthropodes. Au vu des avantages tant économiques, nutritionnels qu’écologiques, la promotion de cette source alimentaire traditionnelle mérite une attention plus grande de la part des gouvernements nationaux et des programmes de coopération pour le développement.

Mots Clés

insectes comestibles Afrique sub-saharienne entomophagie 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. ACC/SCN(2000) Fourth report on the world nutrition situation. UN Administrative Committee on Coordination, Sub-Committee on Nutrition (ACC/SCN), in collaboration with IFPRI, Geneva. 121 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Adamolekun B. (1993) Anaphe venata entomophagy and seasonal ataxic syndrome in southwest Nigeria. Lancet 341, 629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adriaens E. L. (1951) Recherches sur l’alimentation des populations au Kwango. Bull, agric. Congo belge 62, 473–550.Google Scholar
  4. Armitage P. D., Cranston P. S. and Pinder L. C. V. (Eds) (1995) The Chironomidae: Biology and Ecology of Non-biting Midges. Chapman & Hall, London. 572 pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ashiru M. O. (1988) The food value of the larvae of Anaphe venata Butler (Lepidoptera: Notouontidae). Ecol. Food. Nutr. 22, 313–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bahuchet S. (1975) Ethnozoologie des Pygmées Babinga de la Lobaye, République Centrafricaine, pp. 53–61. In l’Homme et l’Animal (Edited by Pujol R). Premier Colloque d’Ethnozoologie. Institut International d’Ethnosciences, Paris.Google Scholar
  7. Banuchet S. (1990) The Aka pygmies: Hunting and gathering in the Lobaya forest, pp. 18–23. In Food and Nutrition m the African Rain Forest (Edited by Hladik C. M., Bahuchet S. and de Carine L.). UNESCO, Paris. 96 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Bani G. (1995) Some aspects of entomophagy in the Congo. Food Insect Newsletter 8, 4–5.Google Scholar
  9. Barreteau D. (1999) Les Mofu-Gudur et leurs criquets, pp. 133–169. In L’homme et l’animal dans le bassin du lac Tchad. Actes du colloque du reseau Mega-Tchad, Orleans 15–17 octobre 1997 (Edited by Baroin C. and Boutrais J.). Editions IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement), Collection Colloques et Seminaires, no. 00/354. Université Nanterre, Paris.Google Scholar
  10. Bergier E. (1941) Peuples entomophages et insectes comestibles: Ètude sur les moeurs de l’homme et de l’insecte. Imprimerie Rulliere Freres, Avignon.Google Scholar
  11. Bequaert J. (1921) Insects as food: How they have augmented the food supply of mankind in early and recent years. J. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 21, 191–200.Google Scholar
  12. Bodenheimer F. S. (1951) Insects as Human Food: A Chapter of the Ecology of Man. Junk W. Dr, Publishers, the Hague. 352 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Bouvier G. (1945) Quelques questions d’entomologie vétérinaire et lutte contre certains arthropodes en Afrique tropicale. Acta trop. 2, 42–59.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Brothwell D. and Brothwell P. (1998) Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples. John Hopkins University Press, London. 283 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Bukkens S. G. F. (1997) The nutritional value of edible insects. Ecol. Food. Nutr. 36, 287–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cerda H., Martinez R., Briceno N., Pizzoferrato L., Manzi P., Tommaseo Ponzetta M., Marin O. and Paoletti M. G. (2001) Palm worm: (Rhynchophorus palmarum) traditional food in Amazonas, Venezuela-nutritional composition, small scale production and tourist palatability. Ecol. Food Nutr. 40, 13–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chavanduka D. M. (1976) Insects as a source of protein to the Afr. Rhod. Sci. News 9, 217–220.Google Scholar
  18. Chitsiku I. C. (1989) Nutritive value of foods of Zimbabwe. Zambezia 16, 67–97.Google Scholar
  19. Costermans J. B. (1955) Het termieten stoken bij de Logo Avokaya (vervolg). Aequatoria 18e Année 1955(2): 50–55. Bibliotheek Afrika Museum, Tervuren, België.Google Scholar
  20. Cotterril H. B. (1968) Natural history appendix on the Kungu fly, pp. 415–417. In Travels and Researches among the Lakes and Mountains of Eastern and Central Africa from the journals of J. Frederic Elton (Edited by Cotterill H. B.) (first published in 1879). Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., London. 417 pp.Google Scholar
  21. Decary R. (1937) L’entomophagie chez les indigènes de Madagascar. Bull. Soc. ent. Fr. (9 juin 1937), 168–169.Google Scholar
  22. DeFoliart G. R. (1995) Edible insects as minilivestock. Biodiversity and Conservation 4, 306–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. DeFoliart G. R. (1997) An overview of the role of edible insects in preserving biodiversity. Ecol. Food. Nutr. 36, 109–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. DeFoliart G. R. (1999) Insects as food: Why the western attitude is important. Annu. Rev. Ent. 44, 21–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Delmet C. (1975) Extraction d’huile comestible d’Agonoscelis versicolor Fabricius, Heteroptere Pentatomidae, au Djebel Guli, Soudan, pp. 255–258. In l’Homme et l’Animal (Edited by Pujol R.). Premier Colloque d’Ethnozoologie. Institut International d’Ethnosciences, Paris.Google Scholar
  26. Dreyer J. J. and Wehmeyer A. S. (1982) On the nutritive value of mopanie worms. Sth. Afr. J. Sci. 78, 33–35.Google Scholar
  27. Ernst W. H. O. and Sekhwela M. B. M. (1987) The chemical composition of lerps from the mopane psyllid, Arytaina mopane (Homoptera, Psyllidae). Insect Biochem. 17, 905–909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fasoranti J. O. and Ajiboye D. O. (1993) Some edible insects of Kwara State Nigeria. Amer. Entomologist 39, 113–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Faure J. C. (1944) Pentatomid bugs as human food. J. ent. Soc. Sth. Afr. 7, 111–112.Google Scholar
  30. Ferreira A. (1995) Saving the mopane worm: South Africa’s wiggly protein snack in danger. Food Insect Newsletter 8(1), 6.Google Scholar
  31. Frears S. L. (1995) Physiological ecology of the mopane worm, Imbrasia belina (Westwood)(Lepidoptera: Saturniidae), p. 55. In Proceedings of the Tenth Entomological Congress organised by the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, 3–7 July 1995, Grahamstown. Entomological Society of Southern Africa, Pretoria.Google Scholar
  32. Gelfand M. (1971) Insects, pp. 163–171. In Diet and Tradition in African Culture. E&S Livingstone, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  33. Gessain M. and Kinzler T. (1975) Miel et insectes à miel chez les Bassari et d’autres populations du Sénégal Oriental, pp. 247–254. In l’Homme et l’Animal. Premier Colloque d’Ethnozoologie (Edited by Pujol R.). Institut International d’Ethnosciences, Paris.Google Scholar
  34. Ghesquière J. (1947) Les insectes palmicoles comestibles, pp. 791–793. In Les Insectes des Palmiers, Appendice II (Edited by Lepesme P. et Ghesqui J.ère). Lechevalier, Paris. 903 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Gomez P. A., Halut R. and Collin A. (1961) Production de protèines animales au Congo. Bull. agric. Congo 52, 689–789.Google Scholar
  36. Gordon D. G. (1998) The Eat-a-bug Cookbook. The Speed Press, Berkeley. 102 pp.Google Scholar
  37. Grimaldi J. and Bikia A. (1985) Le grand livre de la cuisine Camerounaise. SOPECAM, Yaoundé. 258 pp.Google Scholar
  38. Grivetti L. E. (1979) Kalahari agro-pastoral-hunter-gatherers: The Tswana example. Ecol. Food Nutr. 7, 235–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Harris W. V. (1940) Some notes on insects as food. Tanganyika Notes Rec. 9, 45–48.Google Scholar
  40. Hobane P. A. (1995) Amacimbi: The gathering, processing, consumption and trade of edible caterpillars in Bulilimamangwe district. Centre for Applied Social Sciences, University of Zimbabwe. 33 pp.Google Scholar
  41. B. Hölldobler and Wilson E. O. (1990) The Ants. Springer Verlag, Berlin. 732 pp.Google Scholar
  42. Houlder J. A. (1960) Ohabolana ou proverbes Malgaches. Imprimerie Lutheeriennne, Tananarive. 216 pp.Google Scholar
  43. ICIPE (1998) Commercial insects. Development of sericulture and apiculture technologies for enhancing the income generating potential of smallholders and conserving and utilising the natural resources of Africa, pp. 205–219. In Annual Scientific Report 1995-1997, Chapter 17. International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi.Google Scholar
  44. Illgner P. and Nel E. (2000) The geography of edible insects in sub-Saharan Africa: A study of the mopane caterpillar. Geographical J. 166, 336–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Joulian F. and Roulon-Doko P. (1994) Comparaison d’une activité technique chez les hommes et chez les chimpanzés: La collecte des termites. Technique et culture 23–24, 29–62.Google Scholar
  46. Kitsa K. (1989) Contribution des insectes comestibles a l’amélioration de la ration alimentaire au Kasai Occidental. Zaire Afrique 239, 511–519.Google Scholar
  47. Kodondi K. K., LeClercq M. and Gaudin-Harding F. (1987) Vitamin estimations of three edible species of Attacidae caterpillars from Zaire. Internat. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. 57, 333–334.Google Scholar
  48. Latham P. (1999) Edible caterpillars of the Bas Congo region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Antenna 23, 134–139.Google Scholar
  49. Ledger J. A. (1971) Arthropoda at Melville koppies useful as food for man or producing food materials. In Prehistoric Man in Johannesburg. The Archeology and Human Ecology of Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, Johannesburg. Possible Relations Between Man, Plants, Animals, Insects and Environment at Melville Koppies from Prehistoric Times Up to the 19th Century. The Johannesburg Council for Natural History. University of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg. Department of Archeology. Occasional papers 6 (March 1971).Google Scholar
  50. Leleup N. and Daems H. (1969) Les chenilles alimentaires du Kwango: Causes de leur raréfaction et mesures préconisées pour y rémedier, J. Agric. trop. Bot. appl. 16, 1–21.Google Scholar
  51. Lévy-Luxereau A. (1980) Note sur quelques criquets de la région de Maradi (Niger) et leur noms Hausa. J. Agric. Trad. Bot. appl. 37, 263–272.Google Scholar
  52. MacDonald W. W. (1956) Observations on the biology of chaoborids and chironomids in Lake Victoria and on the feeding habits of the ‘elephant-snout fish’ (Mornyrus kannume Forsk.). J. Anim. Ecol. 25, 36–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Malaisse F. (1997) Se nourrir en forêt claire africaine: Approche écologique et nutritionelle. Les Presses Agronomiques de Gembloux, Gembloux. 384 pp.Google Scholar
  54. Malaisse F. and Parent G. (1980) Les chenilles comestibles du Shaba meridional. Naturalistes belg. 61, 2–24.Google Scholar
  55. Mbata K. J. (1995) Traditional uses of arthropods in Zambia. Food Insect Newsletter 8, 1–7.Google Scholar
  56. Mbata K. J., Chidumayo E. N. and Lwatula C. M. (2002) Traditional regulation of edible caterpillar exploitation in the Kopa area of Mpika district in northern Zambia. J. Insect Conservation 6, 115–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mikkola H. (1997) The use of wild foods in Malawi. Soc. Malawi J. 50, 40–53.Google Scholar
  58. Mors P. O. (1958) Grasshoppers as food in Buhaya. Anthrop. Q. 31, 56–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mulissa M. (1997) Time for eating nsenene in Bukoba. Daily News (Dar es Salaam), 4 December 1997.Google Scholar
  60. Munthali S. M. and Mughogho D. E. C. (1992) Economic incentives for conservation: Beekeeping and Saturniidae caterpillar utilization by rural communities. Biodiversity and Conservation 1, 143–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Munyuli Bin Mushambanyi T. (2000) Etude préliminaire orientée vers la production des chenilles consommables par l’élevage des papillons’ Anaphe infracta (Thaumetopoeidae) à Lwiro, Sud-Kivu, République Démocratique du Congo. Tropicultura 18, 208–211.Google Scholar
  62. Netolitzky F. (1919) Käfer als Nahrungs und Heilmittel. Koleopt. Rdsch. 8, 21–26 and 47–60.Google Scholar
  63. Nkouka E. (1987) Les insectes comestibles dans les sociétés d’Afrique Centrale. Revue Scientifique et Culturelle du CICIBA, Muntu 6, 171–178.Google Scholar
  64. Nonaka K. (1996) Ethnoentomology of the central Kalahari San. African Study Monographs Suppl. 22, 29–46.Google Scholar
  65. Oberprieler R. (1995) The Emperor Moths of Namibia. Ecoguild, Hartbeespoort. 91 pp.Google Scholar
  66. Ogutu M. A. (1986) Sedentary hunting and gathering among the Tugen of Baringo district in Kenya. Sprache un Geschichte in Afrika 7, 323–338.Google Scholar
  67. Osmaston H. A. (1951) The termite and its uses for food. Uganda J. 15, 80–83.Google Scholar
  68. Owen D. F. (1973) Man’s Environmental Predicament: An Introduction to Human Ecology in Tropical Africa. University Press, Oxford. 214 pp.Google Scholar
  69. Pagezy H. (1975) Les interrelations homme faune de la foret du Zaire, pp. 63–83. In l’Homme et l’Animal (Edited by Pujol R.) Premier Colloque d’Ethnozoologie. Institut International d’Ethnosciences, Paris.Google Scholar
  70. Pemberton R. W. (1995) Catching and eating dragonflies in Bali and elsewhere in Asia. Amer. Entomologist (Summer 1995), 97–99.Google Scholar
  71. Phelps R. J., Struthers J. K. and Moyo S. J. L. (1975) Investigations into the nutritive value of Macrotermes falciger (Isoptera: Termitidae). Zoologica Africana 10, 123–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Quin P. J. (1959) Food and Feeding Habits of the Pedi With Special Reference to Identification, Classification, Preparation and Nutritive Value of the Respective Foods. Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg. 278 pp.Google Scholar
  73. Ramos-Elorduy J. (1990) Edible insects: Barbarism or solution to the hunger problem?, pp. 151–158. In Ethnobiology: Implications and Applications Vol. I. Proceedings of the First International Congress of Ethnobiology, 1988, Belém (Edited by Posey D. A. and Overal W. L.). Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém. 363 pp.Google Scholar
  74. Ramos-Elorduy J. (1997) Insects: A sustainable source of food. Ecol. Food. Nutr. 36, 247–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ramos-Elorduy J. (1998) Creepy Crawly Cuisine: The Gourmet Guide to Edible Insects. Park Street Press, Rochester.Google Scholar
  76. Roscoe J. (1965) The Baganda: An Account of Their Native Customs and Beliefs. Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  77. Roulon-Doko P. (1998) Les activités de cueillète, pp. 247–342. In Chasse, cueillette et culture chez les Gbaya de Centrafrique. Éditions l’Harmattan, Paris.Google Scholar
  78. Roodt V. (1993) The Shell Field Guide to the Common Trees of the Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve, 113 pp.Google Scholar
  79. Santos Oliveira J. F. S., Passos de Carvalho J., Bruno de Sousa R. F. X. and Madalena Simao M. (1976) The nutritional value of four species of insects consumed in Angola. Ecol. Food. Nutr. 5, 91–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Schebesta P. (1957) Annotationes sur “Insektenkost beim Menschen”. Anthropos 52, 24–32.Google Scholar
  81. Scholtz C. H. (1984) Useful Insects. De Jager-HAUM Publishers, Pretoria. 48 pp.Google Scholar
  82. Seignobos C., Deguine J. P. and Aberlenc H. P. (1996) Les Mofu et leurs insectes, J. d’Agric. Trad. Bota. Appl. 28, 125–187.Google Scholar
  83. Sekhwela M. B. M. (1988) The nutritive value of Mophane bread—Mophane insect secretion (Maphote or Maboti). Botswana Notes and Records 20, 151–153.Google Scholar
  84. Silow C. A. (1976) Edible and other insects of mid-westen Zambia. Studies in Ethno-entomology II. Occasional Papers V, Institutionen för Allmän och Jämförande Etnografi vid Uppsala Universitet. Almqvist & Wiksell, Uppsala. 223 pp.Google Scholar
  85. Silow C. A. (1983) Notes on Ngangela and Nkoya Ethnozoology: Ants and Termites. Etnol. Studier, No. 36. Etnografiska Museum, Göteborg, Sweden. 177 pp.Google Scholar
  86. Skaife S. H. (1979) African Insect Life. Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., London. 279 pp.Google Scholar
  87. Stigter H., Geraedts W. H. J. M. and Spijkers H. C. P. (1997) Thaumetopoea processionea in the Netherlands: Present status and management perspectives (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae). Proc. Exp. Appl. Entomol., N.E.V. Amsterdam 8, 3–16.Google Scholar
  88. Sutton M. Q. (1990) Insect resources and plio pleistocene hominid evolution, pp. 195–207. In Ethnobiology: Implications and Applications (Edited by Posey D. A. and Overal W. L.) Vol. I. Proceedings of the First International Congress of Ethnobiology, 1988, Belém. Museu Paraense Emìlio Goeldi, Belém.Google Scholar
  89. Takeda J. (1990) The dietary repertory of the Ngandu people of the tropical rain forest: An ecological and anthropological study of the subsistence activities and food procurement technology of a slash and burn agriculturist in the Zaire river basin. African Study Monographs Suppl. 11, 1–75.Google Scholar
  90. Takeda J. and Sato H. (1993) Multiple subsistence strategies and protein resources of horticulturists in the Zaire basin: The Nganda and the Boyela, pp. 497–504. In Tropical Forests, People and Food: Biocultural Interactions and Applications to Development (Edited by Hladik C. M., Hladik A., Linares O. F., Pagezy H., Semple A. and Hadley M.). Unesco, Man and the Biosphere Series: V. 13. UNESCO, Paris.Google Scholar
  91. Muyay Tango (1981) Les insectes comme aliments de l’homme. CEEBA Publications 69 (Série II). 177 pp.Google Scholar
  92. Taylor R. L. and Carter B. J. (1996) Entertaining With Insects. Or: The Original Guide to Insect Cookery. Woodbridge Press Publishing Company. 160 pp.Google Scholar
  93. Thémis J.-L. (1997) Des insectes à croquer: Guide de découvertes. Les éditions de l’homme, Québec. 134 pp.Google Scholar
  94. Tihon L. (1946) A propos des termites au point de vue alimentaire. Bull, agric. Congo belge 37, 865–868.Google Scholar
  95. Turk D. (1990) Leguminous trees as forage for edible caterpillars. Nitrogen-Fixing-Tree-Research-Reports 8, 75–77.Google Scholar
  96. Van Huis A. (1996) The traditional use of arthropods in sub-Saharan Africa. Proc. Exp. Applic. Entomol., N.E.V. Amsterdam 7, 3–20.Google Scholar
  97. Weaving A. (1973) Insects: A Review of Insect Life in Rhodesia. Irwin Press Ltd., Salisbury.Google Scholar
  98. Wheeler W. M. (1927) Ants: Their Structure, Development and Behavior. Columbia University Press, New York. 663 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© ICIPE 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen UniversityWageningenNetherlands

Personalised recommendations