Entomophagy practices among the primitive tribes inhabiting the Nilgiris district of Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, South India



Insects have been a traditional food among the people of various countries including India. The Nilgiris district of Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu a recognised biodiversity hotspot in South India, has six different inhabitant primitive tribes namely Todas, Kotas, Kurumbas, Irulas, Paniyas and Kattunayakans, whose insect eating habit and their traditional knowledge on collection, processing and cooking of edible insects have been documented in this study. Eight species of insects viz., Apis dorsata, Apis cerana, Apis florea, Trigona sp., Oecophylla smaragdina, Vespa affinis and Odontotermes sp. belonging to five families under two orders (Hymenoptera and Isoptera) have been recorded to be used as food. The use value of insects have been calculated and inferred that honey bee broods were widely eaten. Their entomophagy habit varies geographically where the members of Kurumba and Kattunayakan tribes residing in the Gudalur and Pandalur taluks were found to consume more insect species than the other tribes. Insects were eaten raw or roasted or cooked with the vegetables. The respondents are also aware of the therapeutic values and health benefits of insects they consume, however various factors including modernization and availability of alternate foods causes decline of insect foods.



Edible insects, Health benefits, The Nilgiris, Primitive tribes, Traditional knowledge

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