All these "sales" lately / insects as food

Pierre le Roux arbor at
Wed Apr 29 14:33:05 EDT 1998

> On Tuesday, April 28, 1998 at 10:16:38 pm DST,
> Doug Yanega <dyanega at> wrote:
> >Time for a wee bit of venting, so pardon me. Is it just my imagination, or
> >are none of these people selling things here over the last few weeks
> >offering any assurances that their material was legally acquired? .....
Ernst Neering wrote:
> I am glad you put this remark in the 'subject-space'. When I see these kinds 
> of lists of insects offered for sale, I immediately hit the delete button. 
> Never in my life I have bought or sold any preserved insects just for adding 
> to a collection. I wonder whether anybody who is subscribed to this list to 
> exchange information on lepidoptera is interested in the offers of these 
> salesmen.
> The only legitimate trade in insects I can think off is in hiring out/ 
> selling colonies of (bumble)bees and the like for pollinating crops and the 
> multitude of insects, especially parasitoids and predators (and other 
> organisms such as nematodes, etc.) for biological control. 
Here in Africa, apart from safari's in gameparks, people pay to come 
hunting game on farms set aside for just that. I, for one, cant see 
why people that want to hunt insects should not be allowed to pay for 
the pleasure on the same basis ;-)

> Some other legitimately sold insects are the silk worms that are domesticated 
> to such extend that there is no existant wild population known, lac insects, 
> cochenile scale insects and although that is a bit trivial, the insects 
> offered for sale as food. I am interested to hear more about that.
Just because a garment pleases you should not preclude insect mounts 
of exquisite butterflies and moths from also gracing your home. 
Although some people find it garish, it is to my mind more appealing 
to have a nicely mounted butterfly on display for all to admire at 
close range, rather than it just forming part of a foodchain in 
nature. If this particular butterfly is in perfect condition  because 
it was raised and not wild caught, so much the better. 

It must be accepted that many people would never be able to travel 
the world, and have first hand "primary experiences" of netting  
dreamt-about tropical beauties. In these instances, I feel it is 
justified that they do pay for the (preferably bred) examples that 
they do obtain, to display and drool over.

> Last year there was a remark on this list about the enormous masses of mopane 
> caterpillars sold in markets in southern Africa.
Here in South Africa, we have the idiotic situation where 
conservation authorities do NOTHING to study the extent of threat by 
collecting of wild populations for food. On the other hand, heaven 
forbid that you actually want to help study the populations of 
butterflies ( that are extremely poorly documented) in the few 
reserves. You are allowed to collect freely, for whatever purposes on 
private land with the landowners permission, but if you want to breed 
and sell, they want to regulate you, even though no legislation 
watsoever exists. 

I'm at present, with the assistance of one of the local universities, 
trying to obtain Government funding, in order to study the potential 
of raising the mopane worm (Larvae of Imbrasia belina, a Saturnid) on 
a commercial basis. It is estimated that about 20,000 billion larvae 
are consumed annualy as food.  
(snip)t I know there 
> are many other species of insect eaten by humans. Some years ago there was a 
> special symposium on mini-livestock in Bejing, almost exclusively dedicated 
> to insects as food. In the Netherlands there now is one restaurant that 
> offers locusts and Tenebrio molitor larvae on the menu. Maybe this is just 
> trendy.
> I had a try of teak caterpillars, palmweevil larvae, termites, locusts, 
> Tenebrio and honeyants over the years and it is good food! Especially in 
> areas where the diet is poor in fat (yes indeed, there are such areas in the 
> world) insects are a wellcome addition to the diet. In the Ituri forest 
> (Congo) the indigenous population in some months relies completely on insects 
> for their protein and fat supply. Similar observations are known from 
> original populations in Australia, Papua New Guinea / Irian Jaya and more in 
> general in rainforest areas around the world.
As part of the anual "Yebo gogga" week, held at the Johannesburg Zoo 
( Basically a display/fair in the Zoological gardens to stimulate 
interest in invertebrate animals), an insect luncheon is offered, 
where you can try delicacies such as fried grasshoppers (dipped in 
chocolate sauce, if you prefer), mopane worm crunchies, etc.  
> Can anybody help me with slides showing cans containing insects which are 
> considered a delicacy? I know there is (or was) export from Thailand, Mexico 
> and Japan into USA and other areas where people from these countries migrated 
> to. The pictures I have seen were taken from illustrations in old books but I 
> never actually saw cans in the market.
I very much doubt that these types of delicacies will appeal to the 
modern-day immigrants to the Western world. Several of the local 
Africans complain of terrible stomach cramps after eating dried 
larvae. Apparently it is something you need to grow accustomed to. I 
recall a similar report by a Belgian in the former Congo who lived 
breifly with pygmies, and ate their standard fare of caterpillars, 
for lack of other protein. I must state that another study is under 
way, to determine the imporatnce of insects in supplying essential 
fats & aminoacids in diets otherwise deficient, in particular in the 
African Subtropics.
> Thanks Doug, I appreciate your and other subscribers efforts to watch over 
> the quality of this list and your 'anti-spam' efforts! You are absolutely 
> right to question the legality of these offers of insects for sale.
I tend to agree that selling insects collected on a trip to defray 
costs, is not justifiable. If we however discourage people from 
breeding for sale, I think it would be a grave mistake, as a major 
incentive for learning more about a fascinating part of our 
terrestrial (?) neighbours, albeit for not-so-nobel motives, would be 
taken away. But then, how noble is working for any type of living 
anyway. I'd much rather raise and sell butterflies and moths, than doing a lot 
of other "more essential" jobs.

Best regards, to all like-minded smallminded people ( that is - the 
one's that are amused(amazed?) by small things)
Pierre le Roux Tel&Fax:+(27)-15-583-0084
P.O. Box 8     ( Cellphone+27-82-9234-975)
0929 Levubu
South Africa
23 05'S 30 15'E, 680m above mean sealevel.

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