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The ghost moth (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) as food of indigenous people in Mexico

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We review the anthroentomophagy of Hepialidae with respect to the culinary practice of various indigenous groups in Mexico. The principal genera involved in human consumption are Phassus and Schausiana. Similarities in the morphology and ecology of these insects have led to confusion among those who have made ethnobiological studies of this group. We clarify the taxonomy, life cycle, traditional knowledge, consumption and other uses made of Hepialidae by rural and indigenous communities in Mexico. Bromatological studies show that Phassus and Schausiana represent a significant source of nutrients for some indigenous communities.
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Keywords: Mexico; Phassus; Schausiana; antropoentomophagy; edible insects

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Conservación de la Biodiversidad, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Barrio de María Auxiliadora, 29290 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mexico; 2: 2Department of Agricultura, Sociedad y Ambiente, Catedra CONACYT-El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Ranchería El Guineo 2da. Sección, 86280 Villehermosa, Mexico; 3: 3Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA;

Publication date: March 19, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The ‘Journal of Insects as Food and Feed' covers edible insects from harvesting in the wild through to industrial scale production. It publishes contributions to understanding the ecology and biology of edible insects and the factors that determine their abundance, the importance of food insects in people's livelihoods, the value of ethno-entomological knowledge, and the role of technology transfer to assist people to utilise traditional knowledge to improve the value of insect foods in their lives. The journal aims to cover the whole chain of insect collecting or rearing to marketing edible insect products, including the development of sustainable technology, such as automation processes at affordable costs, detection, identification and mitigating of microbial contaminants, development of protocols for quality control, processing methodologies and how they affect digestibility and nutritional composition of insects, and the potential of insects to transform low value organic wastes into high protein products. At the end of the edible insect food or feed chain, marketing issues, consumer acceptance, regulation and legislation pose new research challenges. Food safety and legislation are intimately related. Consumer attitude is strongly dependent on the perceived safety. Microbial safety, toxicity due to chemical contaminants, and allergies are important issues in safety of insects as food and feed. Innovative contributions that address the multitude of aspects relevant for the utilisation of insects in increasing food and feed quality, safety and security are welcomed.
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