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Open Access Research

Comparative Survey of Entomophagy and Entomotherapeutic Practices in Six Tribes of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh (India)

Jharna Chakravorty12, Sampat Ghosh1 and V Benno Meyer-Rochow23*

Author Affiliations

1 Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh 791112, India

2 School of Engineering and Science, Jacobs University, Research II (Rm. 37), D-28759 Bremen, Germany

3 Department of Biology, Oulu University, Linnanmaa Campus, P.O. Box 3000, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2013, 9:50  doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-50

Published: 19 July 2013

Abstract

A consolidated list of edible insects used in the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh (N.E. India) by Wangcho (Wancho) and Nocte tribes of the Tirap District and the Shingpo, Tangsa, Deori and Chakma of the Changlang District has been prepared. The list is based on thorough, semi-structured field-interviews with 20 informants of each tribal group. At least 51 insect species, belonging to 9 orders were considered edible. The largest number of the edible species belonged to the Coleoptera (14), followed by 10 each of the Orthoptera and Hymenoptera, 9 of the Hemiptera, 3 Lepidoptera, 2 Isoptera and one each of Ephemeroptera, Odonata and Mantodea. As far as therapeutic uses of insects are concerned, 4 species (Hemiptera) were mentioned by the Wangcho (Wancho). Food insects are chosen by members of the various tribes according to traditional beliefs, taste, regional and seasonal availability of the insects. Depending on the species, only certain, but sometimes all, developmental stages are consumed. Preparation of the food insects for consumption involves mainly roasting or boiling. With the degradation of natural resources, habitat loss, rapid population growth, and increasing ‘westernization’ , the traditional wisdom of North-East Indian tribals related to insect uses is at risk of being lost.

Keywords:
Edible insects; Wangcho (Wancho); Nocte; Singpho; Tangsa; Deori; Chakma; Traditional wisdom; Biodiversity