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Edible Orthoptera from Africa: preservation and promotion of traditional knowledge.

  • CRGB, Centre de Recherche pour la Gestion de la Biodiversité, Cotonou, Bénin
  • Independant consultant in locust ecology and control

Abstract and Figures

Entomophagia - the practice of eating insects - is widely practiced in many countries of the world. In Africa, where malnutrition problems are probably more acute than elsewhere, insects often occupy a prominent place in human nutrition. To safeguard and enhance this traditional knowledge at a time when humanity is increasingly in need of it, the international project LINCAOCNET aim to collect and disseminate as widely as possible the information on edible insects of French-speaking West and Central Africa. In this inventory, the Orthoptera occupy a special place. This short paper provides a country summary of the various species used for human consumption in Africa, the local names, capture techniques, recipes… The information collected - which complement previous inventories by Tchibozo (2015) and Tchibozo et al. (2005, 2016b) - are available for free online at the LINCAOCNET project website (
Content may be subject to copyright.
Volume 37 (2) / May 2017
Visit to China to Discuss Furthering
the Use of Biopesticides against
Locusts and Grasshoppers By DAVID HUNTER
Executive Director and President Elect
etween 25 March and 5
April, I had the privilege
of visiting Dr. Zhang of
the China Agricultural
University, Beijing and
taking part in a training
course on locust control in Tai’an
in Shandong province. There were
more than 100 participants in this
pre-season training course where
preparations were made for the
coming locust season. I gave a talk
on the Integrated Pest Management
of Locusts with emphasis on Man-
agement programs in Australia and
China. This talk included the latest
techniques in ensuring locusts are
found in a timely manner, so that
resources can be allocated such that
most locusts are treated before they
can reach crops. Various aspects
of treatment were outlined, includ-
ing the use of biopesticides, which
in China include both the fungus
Metarhizium acridum and the mi-
crosporidian Paranosema locustae.
In the past few years, more than
100,000 ha per year have been treat-
ed with these biopesticides in China,
which account for more than 30%
of locust and grasshopper
treatments. Long Zhang,
who has been instrumental
in the introduction and use
of these biopesticides, dis-
cussed aspects of the locust
problem and outlined some
of his latest research on the
The next morning, Long
Zhang and I climbed the
famous Tai Shan (Mount
Tai), which is the most sa-
cred mountain in China. In
the afternoon, Long and I
gave seminars at Shandong
University. After returning
to Beijing, I gave a seminar
on the use of biological
pesticides against locusts
and grasshoppers in vari-
ous countries in the world.
Overall, a most fruitful
trip as China plans to use
non-chemical control
methods for over half of its
treatments of locusts and
grasshoppers by the year
Figure 1. Long Zhang (top) and David Hunter (boom)
discussing about locust control at Tai’an, China.
Edible Orthoptera from Africa: preservation
and promotion of traditional knowledge
Centre de recherche pour la gestion
de la biodiversité, Bénin,
Montpellier, France
n response to population
growth, limited natural
resources, and food security
problems in many low-income
regions of the world (particu-
larly in the least-developed
countries), insects (often considered
as nuisances or pests) have emerged
in recent years as a possible response
to malnutrition, protein shortages,
and micronutrient deciencies. En-
tomophagia - the practice of eating
insects - is already widely-practiced.
For a long time, and in many coun-
tries of the world, insects have been
traditionally eaten by humans for
their food. Currently, over 2 billion
people worldwide are consuming
them traditionally (van Huis et al.,
2013, Niassy & Ekessi, 2016). Some
2,140 edible species have been
recorded (Mitsuhashi, 2016), mainly
Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenop-
tera, Isoptera, Hemiptera, Odonata,
Volume 37 (2) / May 2017
Table 1. The main species of Orthoptera consumed in Africa for human food.
Volume 37 (2) / May 2017
Diptera and…278 species of Orthop-
tera (Jongema, 2017).
Work on the use of insects in
human and animal foods is increas-
ing and a scientic journal is now
devoted to the subject: the Journal
of Insects as Food and Feed (http://
loi/jiff), The Univer-
sity of Wageningen also
maintains a site with the
World’s Edible Insects
List (
htm), and FAO has
maintained a website on
edible insects since 2010
In Africa, where mal-
nutrition problems are
probably more acute than
elsewhere, insects often
occupy a prominent
place in human nutrition,
as in the myths of vari-
ous ethnic groups (Sei-
gnobos, 2016). Insects
are not only consumed
in times of scarcity, but
often because of their
taste and their estab-
lished place in the local
food culture (van Huis,
2003). They are a highly
nutritious food source,
rich in protein, iron, and
vitamin A.
However, there is a sig-
nicant risk that cultural
and ecological knowl-
edge about entomophagy
will be lost because in a
globalized world newer
Western dietary pat-
terns are gradually being
adopted (van Huis et al.,
2013). Therefore, it is
necessary to safeguard
and enhance this tra-
ditional knowledge at a time when
humanity is increasingly in need of
it. In Francophone Africa, this was
the objective of the international
project LINCAOCNET (funded by
the International Organization of
La Francophonie and the Belgian
development agency), a multidis-
ciplinary project launched in 2009
by the Biodiversity Management
Research Center, an NGO based in
Benin ( The
aim was to collect the knowledge on
edible insects of French-speaking
West and Central Africa and dis-
seminate it as widely as possible. A
participatory website was created
net/) through a collaboration with the
Royal Museum for Central Africa in
Belgium, and data has been gath-
ered regularly since then. This site
constitutes a source of information
allowing for the gradual improve-
ment of the scientic knowledge for
a better alimentary use of insects. In
this inventory, Orthoptera occupy a
special place.
The collection of eld data, from
the local populations who consume
insects, was carried out by one of
the authors (ST) with the support of
a network of partners in each vis-
ited country. The countries visited
were: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso,
Cameroon, Central African Repub-
lic, Congo, Democratic Republic
of Congo, Gabon, Guinea Conakry,
Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger,
Senegal, and Togo.
Initially, through a literature search
and information from local partners,
a list of major areas of insect con-
sumption was established as well
as, for each country, the periods
of presence and abundance of the
various species. Field missions were
then carried out to collect data on
these edible insects. Local communi-
ties were asked to obtain information
on the various insects used in their
diets. Specimens were collected,
photographed, and identied. For
each observation, a record has been
created that includes a photograph
of the insect, its common name and
scientic name, pronunciation in
the local language (recording of the
name given by local volunteers),
habitat, locality, information on
Figure 1. Sale of dried grasshoppers on the Niamey market in
Niger (a, b) and fresh grasshoppers on a Congolese market (c).
Volume 37 (2) / May 2017
the method of harvesting, culinary
recipes, conservation techniques, and
certain therapeutic uses. The insects’
host plants have also been collected
and placed in an herbarium. Finally,
inventories of marketed Orthoptera,
and their selling price, were made
from visiting the markets, in collabo-
ration with local sellers.
Table 1 provides a country sum-
mary of the various species used for
human consumption in Africa. Up to
fteen species of Orthoptera are con-
sumed in Benin (but obviously it is
the country of the rst author and it
was therefore better prospected), and
25 in DR Congo. But, quantitatively,
Niger is probably the country where
the most grasshoppers are consumed,
even if the diversity of species is
more important elsewhere.
The local names are, of course,
multiple according to the ethnic
groups. For some, a name exists
for each species consumed. For
others, the Orthoptera are simply
designated by one or a few generic
names. Thus, the Bambaras in Mali
have only one name, Nton, for
various species of locusts, including
Kraussaria angulifera, Cataloipus
cymbiferus, and others. The Hausa in
Niger designate all locusts as Maï-
Akoyé. The Sipyeres in Mali use the
term Kanpeinthian. Conversely, the
variegated grasshopper Zonocerus
variegatus L., has a distinct name in
many ethnic groups: in Cameroon,
Nadoisc in the Baya-Dokai language
and Babati in Fulfulbe language; in
Burkina Faso, Sabinnin in the Bobo
language; in Togo: Agboblomi in the
Ewe language; etc.
Capture techniques are simple.
Orthoptera are collected or cap-
tured with bare hands, sometimes
by shaking vegetation, very early
in the morning or at nightfall when
temperatures are low and insects
are not very mobile. Some small
Tettigoniidae are sometimes picked
up on the dry palms of the coconut
tree, Coco nucifera, pre-cut from the
trunk. In the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, in the peri-urban areas,
some species of the genus Ruspolia
are caught under neon public light-
ing (Malaisse, 1997). Unfortunately,
some populations sometimes take
advantage of insecticide treatments
to collect dead insects that are then
found in markets. Analyses carried
out on locusts bought on the market
of Niamey some twenty years ago
revealed some traces of insecticide
(ML). It may be hoped, without be-
ing certain, that these practices have
now disappeared.
There are many recipes. Fre-
quently, once collected, grasshop-
pers are scalded, dried in the sun
until well-dehydrated, or fried and
eaten directly, or seasoned with chili
powder. Sometimes the wings are
removed and the grasshoppers are
skewered and grilled before immedi-
ate consumption. This is the case for
the variegated grasshopper, which,
despite its a priori repulsive name in
french (“stinking grasshopper”), is
highly appreciated by the local com-
munities of Togo and Cameroon. In
Mali, the Bambara remove the head
and wings of grasshoppers and crick-
ets, fry or grill them, and eat them
directly without storing them. There,
the grasshoppers are eaten almost
in all the villages, especially by the
children. In Senegal and Niger, vari-
ous species of grasshoppers are eaten
like biscuits as an aperitif.
Grasshoppers can be eaten im-
mediately after preparation or kept
for sale on the markets, sometimes
in bulk and exposed to the open air,
sometimes packaged in small sachets
containing only a few insects. As an
anecdote, one of the authors (ML)
one day received a trainee from the
Congo who had brought with him to
France, in a plastic bag, some dozens
of grasshoppers prepared by his fam-
ily and which he consumed with de-
Figure 2. Grasshoppers fried and spiced (1), scalded and dried (2), bulk or in individual sachets
(3) are frequently marketed in African markets for human consumpon. Grasshopper our (4)
(here prepared at CRGB but not yet marketed) may be incorporated into feed composion for
poultry, livestock, etc.
Volume 37 (2) / May 2017
light during his stay. Niger seems to
be the only country in French-speak-
ing Africa where you can buy and
eat scalded and dried grasshoppers
all year round. In Benin, a Nigerian
woman who has lived for several
years in Cotonou imports grasshop-
pers from Niger and sells them fried
and seasoned with chili pepper. The
majority of her clients are obviously
from Benin’s Nigerian community.
Some crickets are also widely-
consumed. This is the case of the
cricket Brachytrupes membranaceus
Drury, which is consumed almost all
over Africa and is highly-appreciated
by children. Arboreal species ap-
pear to be the most consumed,
mainly for their taste qualities. The
nutritional intake is obvious and a
chemical analysis of scalded and
dried grasshoppers revealed that
it contains about 32% total crude
protein. Regular consumption could
help reduce child malnutrition in
Africa (Tchibozo et al., 2016a). The
consumption of these orthopterans
obviously depends on the life cycle
of the various species and their abun-
dance in the eld. Species of locusts,
such as the migratory locust and the
desert locust, are mostly consumed
in times of invasion when swarms
offer a large amount of available
insects. These crop pests can then be
both a source of food for the family
and a source of income that is not
Finally, public awareness was also
an important part of the LINCA-
OCNET project. Information days
(seminars) have been organized in
different places, such as in Europe,
in the United States, in China, and
Figure 3. Some edible locust and grashopper species from Africa. From top to boom and from
le to right: (1) Zonocerus variegatus, (2) Schistocerca gregaria, (3) Hieroglyphus africanus, (4)
Ornithacris turbida cavroisi, (5) Kraussaria angulifera, (6) Nomadacris septemfasciata, (7) Cyrta-
canthacris aeruginosa, (8) Locusta migratoria (photos: S. Tchibozo, except M. Lecoq 2 and 8).
also locally in the African coun-
tries. The most popular events were
those associated with insect tasting,
attracting many schoolchildren, but
also many curious adults.
The information collected, which
here complements previous in-
ventories of Tchibozo (2015) and
Tchibozo et al. (2005, 2016b),
are available for free online at the
LINCAOCNET project website.
This project ended in 2011, but
activities are continuing, both for
the collection of new information
(which can be added to the site), for
public awareness, and for mount-
ing new projects. Sustainable use
of edible insects, while taking care
not to endanger their wild popula-
tions and habitats, is undoubtedly
a signicant part of a long-term
strategy to overcome food security
problems in Africa and elsewhere in
the world. However, the obstacles
to the development of sustainable
entomophagy are still numerous,
and they are particularly cultural and
related to eating habits, especially
in western countries (Riggi et al.,
2013). Knowledge about indig-
enous practices, though, can help to
rene current research activities and
stimulate the development of appro-
priate technologies to guide research
and policy for the development of
entomophagia in Africa and around
the world (Niassy et al. 2016). The
Orthoptera will undoubtedly have a
place of choice in this adventure.
Our thanks to Didier Morin for some
identications, and to Nyembo Mukena
Christophe, J.M. Vassal, Linda Bougues-
sa, Leïla Allal-Benfkih, Rémi and Guy
Pinault, Hanem Makni, Michel Yapo,
Pierre Silvie, and Christian Mikolo Yobo
for various information on entomophagy
in Africa.
Jongema Y. 2017. World list of edible
insects. Wageningen University, the
Volume 37 (2) / May 2017
Malaisse F. 1997. Se nourrir en forêt
claire africaine. Approche écologique
et nutrionnelle. Les presses
agronomiques de Gembloux, Belgique
et CTA. 384 p.
Mitsuhashi J. 2016. Edible Insects of the
World. CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA.
296 p.
Niassy S. & Ekesi S. 2016. Contribuon
to the knowledge of entomophagy in
Africa Journal of Insects as Food and
Feed, 2(3) : 137-138.
Niassy S., Fiaboe K.K.M., Aognon
H.D., Akutse K.S., Tanga M.C. & Ekesi
S. 2016. African indigenous knowledge
on edible insects to guide research and
policy. Journal of Insects as Food and
Feed 2 (3) : 161 – 170.
Riggi L., Veronesi M., Verspoor R.,
MacFarlane C., 2013. Exploring Ento-
mophagy in Northern Benin -Pracces,
Percepons and Possibilies. Bugs for
Life, London (
Seignobos C., 2016. Consommaon de
criquets, sauterelles et autres insectes
dans le nord du Cameroun. In : E.
Moe-Florac & P. Le Gall. (eds.). Savou-
reux insectes : de l’aliment tradionnel
à l’innovaon gastronomique. Tours,
Rennes, Marseille : PUFR, PUR, IRD,
119-128. Table des Hommes. ISBN 978-
Tchibozo S., Meura J., & Mergen P.,
2016a. Protéines d’insectes et biscuits
forés pour les enfants sourant
de malnutrion en Afrique [on line].
Sceaux, France : Formaon perman-
ente Développement et Santé (ed.).
URL : hps://cles/
de-malnutrion-en-afrique [accessed
Tchibozo S, Malaisse F & Mergen P.
2016b. Edible insects by Human in
Western French Africa. Geo-Eco-Trop :
Revue Internaonale de Géologie, de
Géographie et d’Ecologie Tropicales
40(2) : 105-114.
Tchibozo S., van Huis A. & Paole M.G.,
2005. Notes on edible insects of South
Benin: A source of protein. In : M.G.
Paole ed.). Ecological Implicaons of
Minilivestock. Role of Rodents, Frogs,
Snails, and Insects for Sustainable De-
velopment. Eneld : Science Publish-
ers, 246-250. ISBN 1578083397.
Tchibozo S. 2015. Entomophagy among
the Ngbakas in the Central African
Republic and the Komas in the Alanka
Mountains, Cameroon: another sus-
tainable food opon in Africa. Nature
& Faune 29(2) : 55-58.
van Huis A., 2003. Insects as food in sub-
saharan Africa. Insect Sci. Applic. 23 :
van Huis A., van Ierbeeck J., Klunder
H., Mertens E., Halloran A., Muir G.,
Vantomme P., 2013. Edible insects -
Future prospects for food and feed
security. FAO Forestry Paper 171.
Book Review: Acridofagia y otros insectos /
Acridophagy and other insects
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University
t was a pleasure to receive this
book as a gift some months
ago. For more than forty
years, the rst author, Dr.
Julieta Ramos-Elorduy has
been studying edible insects in
Mexico and this book is a culmina-
tion and compilation of several of
the studies that have been published
together with the book’s other two
authors, Pino and Van Huis. After the
introduction to the topic, the authors
dene entomophagy and provide
examples from different parts of the
world. Currently, there are 1,900
species recorded that are consumed
by humans. They are mainly from
Africa, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thai-
land, Vietnam, Brazil, and Mexico.
The latter is considered to be the
most entomophagous country in the
world with 549 species reported so
far. In the case of Orthoptera, 60
species of the genera Sphenarium,
Melanoplus, Schistocerca, Boope-
don, Rhammatocerus, Abracris,
Taeniopoda, and Xyleus (among
others) are reported to be consumed
in Mexico. Across the world, Or-
thoptera species represent 13% of
the insects consumed, surpassed by
Hymenoptera (14%), Lepidoptera
(18%), and Coleoptera (31%). Fol-
lowing this overview, the authors
focus on the history of entomophagy
in Mexico and provide several sta-
tistics. Among them, one Orthoptera
genus (Sphenarium spp.) is in the
top ten species of insects consumed
in Mexico. Due to historical rea-
sons (heritage of several indigenous
groups living in those regions before
the Spanish Conquest), the States of
Hidalgo, Mexico, Chiapas, Oaxaca,
and Veracruz in the Central and
Southern parts of Mexico are the
Acridofagia y otros insectos / Acridophagy
and other insects. Julieta Ramos-Elordy, Ar-
nold Van Huis & José Manuel Pino. Conaculta,
Trilce ediciones & Universidad Autónoma del
Estado de Hidalgo. 2015. 319 pp. Paperback.
ISBN 978-607-7663-98-0. In Spanish. $25 USD.
... However, food habits changed over the millennia, and while consuming insects was largely lost in Europe after the classical antiquity, the tradition lingered on in Africa. There are hundreds of insect species consumed in Africa as foodstuffs or as traditional medicine [1][2][3][4][5][6]. The awareness of the benefits of edible insects has also reached non-traditional sectors of the African population, and web-based information sites like LINCAOCNET ( ...
... Following the tradition, insects have been caught from the wild in order to be processed and consumed [5]. African wildlife management legislations referring to hunting and/or natural resource management (as that of forests) usually base themselves on "wildlife" definitions that do include insects. ...
... From the food safety point of view however, the proper use of this food resource will depend fundamentally on the toxicological status of these animals (pesticides) and the possibility to process these animals right after harvesting into a storable product with a stable quality. In fact, orthopterans killed by insecticides are sometimes gathered and sold on West African markets [5]. ...
Full-text available
Entomophagy is an ancient and actually African tradition that has been receiving renewed attention since edible insects have been identified as one of the solutions to improve global nutrition. As any other foodstuff, insects should be regulated by the government to ensure product quality and consumer safety. The goal of the present paper was to assess the current legal status of edible insects in Africa. For that, corresponding authorities were contacted along with an extensive online search, relying mostly on the FAOLEX database. Except for Botswana, insects are not mentioned in national regulations, although the definitions for "foodstuff" allow their inclusion, i.e., general food law can also apply to insects. Contacted authorities tolerated entomophagy, even though no legal base existed. However, insects typically appear in laws pertaining the use of natural resources, making a permit necessary (in most cases). Pest management regulation can also refer to edible species, e.g., locusts or weevils. Farming is an option that should be assessed carefully. All this creates a complex, nation-specific situation regarding which insect may be used legally to what purpose. Recommendations for elements in future insect-related regulations from the food hygiene point of view are provided.
... migratoria) and desert (S. gregaria) locusts are traditionally mostly consumed in times of invasion when swarms offer a large amount of available insects. These crop pests can then be both a source of food for the family and a source of significant income (Tchibozo and Lecoq, 2017). ...
... Wild foods in informal food systems are estimated to contribute to the daily diet of about 1 billion people worldwide (Aberoumand, 2009), and to diversify daily diets and livelihood strategies in developing countries (Bharucha and Pretty, 2010). It is therefore necessary to safeguard and enhance this traditional knowledge (Costa Neto, 2002;Tchibozo and Lecoq, 2017). ...
Full-text available
For almost a decade, edible insects have become promoted on a wider basis as one way to combat world hunger and malnourishment, although attempts to do so have a longer history. Contemporary researchers and consumers, particularly those without an entomophagous background, have been rising safety and sustainability concerns. The present contribution seeks a substantiated answer to the question posed above. The possible answer consists of different factors that have been taken into consideration. First, the species and its life cycle. It is mandatory to realize that what is labeled as “edible insects” stands for more than 2,140 animal species, not counting other edible, non-crustacean arthropods. Their life cycles are as diverse as the ecological niches these animals can fill and last between some days to several years and many of them may—or may not—be reproduced in the different farming systems. Second, the level of knowledge concerning the food use of a given species is important, be it traditional, newly created by research, or a combination of both. Third, the existence of a traditional method of making the use of the insect safe and sustainable, ideally from both the traditional and the modern points of view. Fourth, the degree of effectiveness of these measures despite globalization changes in the food-supplying network. Fifth, farming conditions, particularly housing, feeding (type, composition, and contaminants), animal health and animal welfare. Sixth, processing, transport, and storage conditions of both traditional and novel insect-based foodstuffs, and seventh, consumer awareness and acceptance of these products. These main variables create a complex web of possibilities, just as with other foodstuffs that are either harvested from the wild or farmed. In this way, food safety may be reached when proper hygiene protocols are observed (which usually include heating steps) and the animals do not contain chemical residues or environment contaminants. A varying degree of sustainability can be achieved if the aforementioned variables are heeded. Hence, the question if insects can be safe and sustainable can be answered with “jein,” a German portmanteau word joining “yes” (“ja”) and “no” (“nein”).
... Why did this happen? This notwithstanding the fact that there are more than 2000 ethno-linguistic groups in Africa, of which the most important are the Niger-Congo group (1650), followed by the Afro-Asiatic (200-300), The Nilo-Saharan (80), and the Khoisan (40-70) [99]. Could there be a common origin? ...
Full-text available
Background In sub-Saharan Africa, there is a wealth of information about insects which is often only orally available. The purpose of the study was to remedy this shortcoming and make an overview of how orthopteran species are utilised, perceived and experienced in daily life across sub-Saharan Africa. Method Ethno-entomological information on Orthoptera in sub-Saharan Africa was collected by (1) interviews with more than 300 people from about 120 ethnic groups in 27 countries in the region; (2) library studies in Africa, London, Paris and Leiden; and (3) using web search engines. Results More than 126 species of crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts have been identified as edible in sub-Saharan Africa. Some toxic species, such as Zonocerus spp., are eaten by some groups who use processing and detoxifying techniques. The katydid Ruspolia differens is very popular as food in central and eastern Africa and is captured by indigenous and commercial methods. Vernacular names refer to their morphology, behaviour, characteristics or the beliefs associated with the insect. The aposematic pyrgomorphid species, such as Zonocerus spp., are often used as medicine. Children play with grasshoppers, by for instance herding them like cattle, and they consider cricket-hunting for food as a game. The doctrine of signatures probably plays a role, as crickets, because of their chirping, are used to improve the sound of a music instrument, or as medicine to treat earache. Locust plagues are considered a punishment which requires repentance, but also an opportunity to acquire food. Proverbs and stories relate to using the orthopterans as food or to the underground lives of the crickets. Possible explanations are given as to why so many practices, beliefs and stories about orthopterans are so widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. The relevance of recording such ethno-entomological practices is discussed. Conclusion Grasshoppers, locusts and crickets, although they may be agricultural pests, are very popular as food. They are also used in medicine, and as toys, and they play a role in religion, art and literature.
... variegatus and O. spissus. Orthoptera species are used as food in many parts of the world, such as Australia, India, South America, and Africa (van Huis 2003, Srivastava et al. 2009, Mitsuhashi 2016, Niassy et al. 2016, Jongema 2017, Tchibozo and Lecoq 2017. Gullan and Cranston (2010) reported that most of the edible insects used worldwide come from a relatively small number of orders, including crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts. ...
Full-text available
The increased attention given to health, food security, and biodiversity conservation in recent years should bring together conventional scientists and indigenous people to share their knowledge systems for better results. This work aims to assess how grasshoppers are perceived by the local people in southern Cameroon, particularly in terms of food, health, and landscape conservation. Villagers were interviewed individually using a rapid rural assessment method in the form of a semi-structured survey. Nearly all people (99%) declared that they are able to identify local grasshoppers, generally through the color of the insect (80%). Crop fields were the most often cited landscape (16%) in terms of abundance of grasshoppers, with forest being less mentioned (8%). In general, villagers claimed that grasshopper abundance increased with forest degradation. Grasshoppers were found during all seasons of the year but noted to be more abundant during the long dry seasons. People found grasshoppers both useful and harmful, the most harmful reported being Zonocerus variegatus, an important crop pest. Cassava is the most attacked crop with 75-100% losses. Industrial crops, such as cocoa, coffee, and bananas, were not cited as being damaged by grasshoppers. The most effective conventional method cited for the control of pest grasshoppers is the use of pesticides (53%) with, in most cases (27%), a 75-100% efficiency. The traditional method of spreading ash was also often cited (19%), with an estimated efficiency of 25-75%. Biological methods were neither cited nor used by the villagers. Most of them (87%) declared that they eat grasshoppers; some sold these insects in the market (58%) and some used them to treat diseases (11%).
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For centuries, natural forests have enabled the Ngbakas and Komas to sustainably include insects in their diet. The migration of some people towards cities in the Central African Republic and Cameroon has introduced these foods to periurban and urban populations. A first exploratory mission among these local communities enabled to identify sixteen species of edible insects among the Ngbakas and eighteen among the Komas. Harvesting and cooking techniques have been discussed as well as the various species identified. The sound management of forests that takes into account the promotion of various insect species will contribute to ensuring food and nutrition security and contribute to the sustainable harvest of Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs) in general, and in particular edible insects for the Ngbaka (Central African Republic) and Koma (Cameroon) communities. Furthermore, the installation of agroforestry parks will enable to have enough trees to develop the breeding of these edible insects in the village and for the paleo diet.
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Food security is a critical issue for many low income countries across the African continent. In areas unsuited for intensive agricultural production, local natural resources can play an important role, particularly those which are sustainable and on which people have relied on for centuries. In many regions of the world insects have been consumed for generations, and represent a reliable source of animal proteins among populations that otherwise have limited access to meat. This work in Benin was motivated by the attempt to understand how edible insects could contribute in an area where food security is significant issue. Initially our work focussed on a case study of an insect-eating community in the Atakora region, in Northern Benin. Data on edible insects in the Wama communities of the district of Tanguieta were collected by conducting interviews, focus groups and insect collections in two Wama settlements, Kosso and Cotiakou. Eighteen edible insect species were recorded, predominantly Coleoptera (52%) and Orthoptera (29%). This project has found a further nine arthropod species eaten in the region including new groups of arthropods such as Hemiptera (family: Coreidae) and Acari (family: Ixodidae). Interestingly, insect collection and consumption was found to be an ancestral tradition in the Wama community, mostly carried out by children. In light of malnutrition in North Benin being a major problem in young age groups, promoting this tradition as well as exploring the potential of implementing small scale captive rearing of selected species could be a promising opportunity to further develop food security in the region and beyond. The opportunities and barriers of expanding entomophagy and rearing are discussed.
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This book draws on a wide range of scientific research on the contribution that insects make to ecosystems, diets, food security and livelihoods in both developed and developing countries.
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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.
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Insects have been and still are consumed in South Benin. They are a very important source of animal protein, able to successfully substitute some meats and improve the health of badly nourished children. Various aspects are investigated: the species eaten, techniques of gathering, culinary usages, community consumption, and their economic importance
Entomophagy is an ancient practice viewed as a potential solution to food security and sustainable ecosystemmanagement in Africa. However, its expansion is challenged by several factors including acculturation, urbanisationand lack of information. Knowledge on indigenous practices can contribute to refining ongoing research activities and stimulate the development of adequate technologies to guide research, business and policy in entomophagy. We documented indigenous practices using outcomes of an online survey conducted between 2013 and 2015 and intensive literature crowd sourcing. Edible insects are mainly collected from wild harvesting using different methods. Although respondents acknowledged the existence of rearing technologies, no comprehensive procedure wasdescribed. We found that after collection, the processing techniques for either consumption or commercialisation varied. Our survey revealed that sun drying was the most commonly used processing technique probably because it does not require much input as compared to frying, boiling or roasting. Processing techniques such as boilingseem not only to reduce the amounts of toxic phytochemicals found on insects but also to eliminate some pathogenswhich can contaminate the insects during collection. To improve shelf life, certain additives such as salt, palm oil or pure honey were used to preserve the dried insects. The findings from this study are discussed from research policy and business perspective.
The use of insects as food and feed is probably one of the most exciting topics in entomology in recent times. It is estimated that over 2 billion people worldwide consume insects and with the expanding interest on the subject, an exponential increase of this figure is highly likely. Insects are the largest and the most diverse group of organisms in the animal kingdom, with over 1 million species identified. Globally over 2,000 species are known to be edible and Africa alone consumes ~500 different species.
World list of edible insects
  • Y Jongema
Jongema Y. 2017. World list of edible insects. Wageningen University, the Volume 37 (2) / May 2017 Netherlands.
Approche écologique et nutritionnelle. Les presses agronomiques de Gembloux, Belgique et CTA
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Malaisse F. 1997. Se nourrir en forêt claire africaine. Approche écologique et nutritionnelle. Les presses agronomiques de Gembloux, Belgique et CTA. 384 p.