An Ethnographic Account of the Role of Edible Insects in the Adi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, North-East India

  • Karsing Megu
  • Jharna Chakravorty
  • Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow


Tribal Adi of North-East India are a conglomeration of numerous subtribes residing in Arunachal Pradesh, a region considered a biodiversity hotspot. The diversity of insects of the region is reflected by the numerous roles that insects play in the culture of the Adi. Insects are referred to in idioms, songs and stories; Adi creation myths invoke insects, some species are feared, others serve as objects of entertainment or are therapeutically used and a large number of species are appreciated as food. These edible insects are collected from the wild, eaten whole and raw or are being subjected to a variety of preparations for human ingestion. Roasting them and eating them with some ingredients like spices and vegetables are most commonly practiced. Although some species are only seasonally available, others occur the entire year. They are appreciated because they can easily be collected, are cheap and taste good. Nutritional aspects, for instance whether they contain a lot of protein, minerals or vitamins are apparently not considered in decisions on which species to eat and which to avoid. Over-harvesting, as with wild vertebrates, can affect sought after insect species as well and requires attention if Adi customs and traditions involving insects are to survive in the future.


Cultural entomology Entomophagy Food preparation Tribal custom 



The authors are thankful to the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, for the financial support through a project grant by the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, to Professor J. Chakravorty and Mr. Karsing Megu as Junior Research Fellow and sponsorship for field study at various Adi-inhabited areas. Assistance from Rajiv Gandhi University, the Centre with Potential for Excellence in Biodiversity (CPEB) and cooperation received from the members of the Adi community in collecting the data is gratefully acknowledged by all three authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karsing Megu
    • 1
  • Jharna Chakravorty
    • 1
  • Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Rajiv Gandhi UniversityItanagarIndia
  2. 2.Research Institute of Luminous OrganismsTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Genetics and PhysiologyOulu UniversityOuluFinland

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