Nutritive value of Lepidoptara litoralia (edible caterpillar) found in Jos Nigeria: implication for food security and poverty alleviation

  • M Solomon
  • N Prisca


Insects and caterpillars are traditionally important foods in many cultures in Nigeria. Their potential is seriously being considered in food security and poverty alleviation strategies. The nutrient composition of some commonly eaten insects especially in South-western Nigeria has been determined and reported. The nutritional and economic potentials of the abundant edible caterpillars in the Northern region particularly in Jos, Plateau State are yet to be ascertained and fully realised.Lepidoptara litoralia, a defoliator of Isobelinia doka, is commonly found and consumed by many indigenous ethnic groups in Jos Plateau State, Nigeria. The objective of the study was to evaluate the nutritional and economic potentials of L. litoralia as a strategy to mitigate food insecurity and alleviate poverty. The live caterpillars were hand-picked from bushes in the month of September, and processed under laboratory conditions according to local methods used by the indigenes. The processed sample was analysed for its proximate nutrient composition, amino acids and mineral profiles using standard procedures. Its commercial value was estimated through oral interviews with local women who trade the commodity with a view to popularize it as a strategy for food security and poverty alleviation among the local people. Analysis of the processed (ready-to-eat) Lepidoptara litoralia showed that they contained 59.8% crude protein, 17.0% fat, 20.2% Nitrogen Free Extract (NFE), 3.1% crude fibre, 4.3% ash and caloric value of 473.0kcal. Important mineral elements found in moderate quantities included sodium, chloride, iron, zinc, calcium and phosphorus. Magnesium and copper were found to be low. All the common amino acids with the exception of tryptophan were detected, and values ranged between 0.8g/100g protein and 12.5g/100g protein for histidine and glutamic acid, respectively. The estimated daily income from trading of the commodity by the indigenes was put at USD3 – 4/day or USD21 - 26/week. It was obvious that trading on processed L. litoralia can be a good source of additional income for families since no initial capital is invested. The nutrient composition of Lepidoptara litoralia was found to be comparable to those of conventional animal source foods such as beef and fish. It is concluded that consumption of the caterpillars could add variety and security to staple foods of the indigenous communities. When properly harnessed and large scale production and commercialization are explored, it can be a good source of livelihood for families thereby alleviating poverty.

Keywords: Edible Caterpillars, Nutrition, Food Security

African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Volume 12 No. 6

Author Biographies

M Solomon
Department of biochemistry, University of Jos, P.M.B 2084, Jos, Nigeria
N Prisca
Department of biochemistry, University of Jos, P.M.B 2084, Jos, Nigeria

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358