Chakravorty J, Ghosh S, Meyer-Rochow VB. Practices of entomophagy and entomotherapy by members of the Nyishi and Galo tribes, two ethnic groups of the state of Arunachal Pradesh (North-East India). J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2011 Jan 14;7:5. PubMed PMID: 21235790; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3031207. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]
Investigators from Rajiv Gandhi University (Arunachal Pradesh, India) and Jacobs University (Bremen, Germany) prepared a consolidated list of edible and therapeutic insects used in Arunachal Pradesh (North-East India) by two tribal societies: the Nyishi of East Kameng and the Galo of West Siang.
Through field interviews, the authors identified more than 80 species of local insects used as food, belonging to 26 families and five orders, namely Coleoptera (beetles; 24 species), Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets and locusts; 17 species), Hemiptera (true bugs; 16 species), Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, bees and ants; 15 species) and Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies; 9 species). They also identified 12 species of insects used as therapy:
“Species of the order Hymenoptera are the therapeutically most widely used insects, but the Coleoptera also feature with three medicinal species. Most of the therapeutic insects are taken raw or boiled and they are being used primarily to remedy stomach disorders, coughs and colds, skin allergies, boils, malaria, blood pressure anomalies, scabies (in case of humans) and foot and mouth disease of bovids like mithun and cattle.”
Scientific names, families, English names, vernacular names, seasonal availability, uses, and mode of preparation/intake are detailed in tables.
In their Conclusion, the authors argue for a balance between conservation of indigenous practices and prevention of over-exploitation of insects:
“Unfortunately the availability of all types of modern food stuffs and the degradation of resources makes ethnic people worldwide (and the Galo and Nyishi are no exception) inclined to abandon their traditions and discard their rich indigenous knowledge. This is particularly lamentable in view of the fact that from a nutritional aspect, the traditional food is often not only healthier, it is also the product of generations of harmonious co-existence between tribe and environmental resource. The flipside of the coin is that due to unprecedented population increases, the resources of the forest, including food insects, can become over-exploited and this has apparently already resulted in the diminishment of biotic resources (including edible insects and species deemed therapeutically useful by the local people) in some parts of North-East India … we see an urgent need to assess insect biodiversity and the role of ethno-entomology together and not separated from each other.”
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