Insects as Human Food

As noted in the previous chapter, insects play a key role in energy flow through the ecosystem, principally as herbivores but also as predators or parasites, which may themselves be consumed by higher-level insectivorous vertebrates. In turn, some of these vertebrates, notably freshwater fish and game birds, are eaten by humans. Moreover, in many parts of the world, insects (including grasshoppers and locusts, beetle larvae, caterpillars, brood of ants, wasps and bees, termites, cicadas, and various aquatic species) historically played, and continue to have, an important part as a normal component of the human diet (DeFoliart, 1992, 1999).

Aboriginal people of the Great Basin region in the southwestern United States traditionally spent much time and effort harvesting a variety of insects, principally crickets, grasshoppers, shore flies (Ephydridae) (especially the pupae), caterpillars, and ants (adults and pupae) though bees, wasps, stoneflies, aphids, lice, and beetles were also consumed on an opportunistic basis. Some of the insects were eaten raw though most were baked or roasted prior to being consumed; further, large quantities, especially of grasshoppers and crickets, were dried and ground to produce a flour that was stored for winter use (Sutton, 1988).

In parts of southeastern Australia the aboriginals would seasonally gorge themselves on bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) which estivate from December through February in vast numbers in high-altitude caves and rocky outcrops in the Southern Tablelands (Figure 24.2). Some tribes would make an annual trek over a considerable distance (up to 200 km) to take advantage of this seasonal food source, returning each year to the same area (Flood, 1980).

In some African countries (including Botswana, South Africa, Zaire, and Zimbabwe) there is a thriving trade in mopanie caterpillars (Gonimbrasia belina), and when these are in season, beef sales may show a significant decline. A similar preference for insects over meat is shown by the Yupka people of Colombia and Venezuela (Ruddle, 1973). Insects are also eaten in many Asian countries; indeed, giant water bugs (Lethocerus indicus) and

FIGURE 24.2. (A) The bogong moth, Agrotis infusa; and (B) estivating bogong moths forming a scalelike pattern on a cave wall. Aboriginals harvested the moths in vast numbers by dislodging them with sticks and collecting them in nets or bark dishes held beneath. [A, photograph by J. Green. B, from D. F. Waterhouse, 1991, Insects and humans in Australia, in: The Insects of Australia, 2nd ed., Vol. 1 (CSIRO, ed.), Melbourne University Press. By permission of the Division of Entomology, CSIRO.]

FIGURE 24.2. (A) The bogong moth, Agrotis infusa; and (B) estivating bogong moths forming a scalelike pattern on a cave wall. Aboriginals harvested the moths in vast numbers by dislodging them with sticks and collecting them in nets or bark dishes held beneath. [A, photograph by J. Green. B, from D. F. Waterhouse, 1991, Insects and humans in Australia, in: The Insects of Australia, 2nd ed., Vol. 1 (CSIRO, ed.), Melbourne University Press. By permission of the Division of Entomology, CSIRO.]

Beekeeping for Beginners

Beekeeping for Beginners

The information in this book is useful to anyone wanting to start beekeeping as a hobby or a business. It was written for beginners. Those who have never looked into beekeeping, may not understand the meaning of the terminology used by people in the industry. We have tried to overcome the problem by giving explanations. We want you to be able to use this book as a guide in to beekeeping.

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