Nutrient Composition of Termites

  • Oladejo Thomas Adepoju


Edible insects are generally abundant, nutrient-dense, and economically valuable. They constitute an important part of the daily diet of a large population worldwide either as a snack or as a meal. Commonly consumed insects include winged adult termites (Macrotermes bellicosus/Macrotermes notalensis), adult crickets (Brachytrypes spp.), adult short-horned grasshoppers (Cytacanthacris aeruginosus unicolor), scarab beetle larvae (Oryctes boas), and larvae of butterfly and moth (Anaphe spp.). Research findings have revealed that insects often contain more protein, fat, and carbohydrates than equal amounts of beef or fish, and a higher energy value than soybeans, maize, beef, fish, lentils, or other beans. The quantity and quality of proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and calories in edible insect caterpillars are comparable to those of beef, fish, lamb, pork, chicken, milk, and eggs; and they are many times higher in protein and fat than the plants upon which they feed.

Termites, classified as social insects with colonies, are widely consumed in many parts of the world, especially Africa. They are usually classified as Isoptera and are mainly found in the tropical areas and subtropical climates in large and diverse group consisting of over 2600 species worldwide. Termite utilization was recorded in 29 countries across three continents, with Africa being the continent with the highest number of records, followed by the USA and Asia. Termites have been used as food in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America. They are relished as a delicacy as part of a meal or simply eaten as a snack. Dried termites have been used by some mothers as sprinkle in baby porridge, and also converted into other unrecognizable forms in muffins and crackers. Termites can provide food security in many developing and developed countries of the world, as they contain essential nutrients, which are often lacking in the diets of many people in these countries.


Edible insects Termites Adult winged termites Termite consumption Termite Mounds 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oladejo Thomas Adepoju
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human NutritionUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria

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