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Edible and Medicinal Termites: A Global Overview


Edible and Medicinal Termites: A Global Overview

Rozzanna Esther Cavalcanti Reis de Figueirêdo et al. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed.


Termites are mainly known for damage caused to human beings, both in urban and rural areas. However, these insects play an important role in the decomposition of organic matter in tropical regions and are important natural resources, which are widely used in traditional medicine and are also consumed by human populations in several parts of the world. This study aimed to catalogue termite species used worldwide through a literature review, characterizing them by its human populations' use. The results showed that at least 45 species of termites, belonging to four families, are used in the world, with 43 species used in human diet and/or in livestock feeding. Nine termite species are used as a therapeutic resource. There is an overlapping use of seven species. The use of termites was registered in 29 countries over three continents. Africa is the continent with the highest number of records, followed by America and Asia. The results suggest that, in addition to their ecological importance, termites are a source of medicinal and food resources to various human populations in various locations of the world, showing their potential for being used as an alternative protein source in human or livestock diets, as well as a source for new medicines.

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