Insect Enterprise Stuggles in the Darkness

In many parts of the world, diets are low in protein which is expensive to produce and purchase. One way to boost protein in the diet is to eat insects that have a high protein content. A large edible insect can add substantial protein to a diet.

In Uganda, Nsenene are a type of bush cricket (katydid) that fly in substantial numbers in December. Collecting Nsenene for sale as food is a cottage industry. According to Fredrick Mugira, they are collected by a variety of methods. The state of the art method is to place a piece of metal roofing at an angle with the bottom in a large barrel and the top in the air supported by a frame. Bright lights are hung on the top of the metal to attract the Nsenene. The flying Nsenene slam into the metal and stunned, slide down the roofing into the barrel. Other, less sophisticated methods of capturing Nsenene also use lights to attract them.

There are a variety of ways to treat and cook the Nsenene. They can be placed in water for 24 hours, after which they can be boiled or eaten raw, sun-dried, fried, flavoured with spices, drenched in lime, and used in soup or as a filling for various dishes. Fried with onions, Nsenene make a great snack or bar food. In all cases, the wings and legs are removed so they don’t get caught in the throat.

Uganda is currently experiencing problems with their Nsenene harvest. The electric power has been erratic and often not available when the Nsenene are flying. Unable to run light traps and other lights for attracting them, the availability of the Nsenene is decreasing and the price is going up. This makes life more difficult for many people who struggle to make ends meet and Capture, cook and sell Nsenene to supplement their income.

Nsenene, minus wings and legs, await the frying pan.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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