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African fungus-growing termites and other insects for human and poultry nutrition.

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Food insecurity can contribute to the advancement of diseases such as growth stunting and HIV/AIDS. A holistic approach to addressing food insecurity includes reviewing local resources; including indigenous food stuffs. Six studies investigate the potential of insect nutrition to meet dietary needs in rural South Africa. A novel trapping method for Trinervitermes sp. is examined by parameters of time, sustainability and bait used. Local grass (Themeda triandra Forssk.) seemed to be the most effective bait, being significantly more attractive than loose mound soil (p=0.01), wet maize stalks (p=0.01) or cardboard (p=0.05). The trapping device was demonstrated as an effective tool in assessing the feeding preferences of Trinervitermes sp., which compete directly with cattle for grazing food resources. The chemical composition of Macrotermes natalensis alates (winged, wingless and fried), soldiers, and Odontotermes sp. alates (wingless) was determined. Alates were rich in fat, ranging between 49.2-60.6% (dry matter basis). The protein content ofM natalensis and Odontotermes sp. alates compared favourably to pork and chicken. Alates were high in glutamic, aspartic and alanine amino acids and low in methionine, serine and threonine. Amino acid digestion for broiler chickens was high, ranging between 87.6-96.1%. In an era where rural and urban cultures are rapidly merging, entomophagy may be discarded as an embarrassment or nonsensical practice. The high nutritional content of M natalensis and Odontotermes sp. should be publicised both to increase the awareness of their high quality as a food source for both poultry and human consumption and to avoid the abandonment of cultural practices that make sense.


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2004.


Edible insects., Insects as food., Entomophagy., Theses--Agricultural extension and rural resource management.