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Edible Maggots - Characteristics and Importance of the Palm Tree Weevil Larvae
Palm Tree Weevil
Palm Tree Weevil Larva (Rhynchophorus phoenicis) is a delicious tropical delicacy and great source of Protein for some Indigenous people. It is almost as popular as anywhere the Palm Tree is found. This extends to the inhabitants of the Amazon forest, Borneo; and countries of Africa and Asia that includes: Cameroun, Nigeria, Central Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and more.
Rhynchophorus phoenicis is commonly known as Edible Maggot. You might travel the entire Length and Breadth of a Country without finding it except when you assume a special interest and pay careful attention to some of the Snacks being offered by Food Hawkers from the Benin-Sapele main Road of Nigeria.
Although there are other types of Palm Tree Larvae, R. phoenis is unique in it's shape, size and taste. Full grown Larvae is up to four Inches in Length and two Inches in width. It's body Diameter reduces from the middle down to both extremes (the Head and the Tail).
Benefits of Palm Weevil Larvae
Although the Taste and dietary value of the Larvae is rather more attractive, there are some few other benefits as shown below.
1. Palm Tree Larvae serves as a great source of Nutrients for people leaving in the Tropics.
2. A great Source of Employment from the process of harvesting and Sales.
3. Harvesting the Larvae helps to increase Income generated from Palm wine Tapping.
4. Source of Enjoyment for consumers who enjoys it's products as Snacks in Bars or the Road-side.
It should also be stated that, there are some other important applications of the Larvae, that might perhaps, extend to new products and snacks of commercial value in the nearest future.
Nutritional value of Palm Tree Larvae
Research carried on the early and late stages of development of Adult Rhynchophorus phoenicis Showed that the Larvae is a great reserve of Protein, Lipid and Carbohydrate. It also contains considerable amount of minerals that includes: Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Phosphorus, Calcium, Zinc, and others. The Larvae further contain large amount of Fibre that could serves as a great source of dietary Roughage.
How to prepare Larvae Recipe
The most popular way of preparing the Palm Tree Weevil larvae is by roasting. They are washed, salted, and pierced into a Stick to form a row like in Barbecue Stick. Then, they are gently roasted with hot Charcoal until they are lightly Brownish.
Another way of preparing the Larvae involves frying on a frying-Pan. The Larvae are initially boiled with a little amount of salt and water. Heating should continue until the Larvae is cooked and the pan is dry of water. The Larvae will become almost flattish at this point. Then, it is heated and steered continuously on the dry frying pan until it becomes swollen into a brownish oily Product.
Edible Maggot in Africa
Palm Tree Weevils are very popular in Southern Cameroun and Nigeria. Unlike in the past when they are very affordable, they have recently become very expensive. Palm Wine (Ogoro ) Tappers from southern Cameroun and south-south Region of Nigeria, prefer to tap palm wine from Raffia Palms while the Palm Tree is still standing in the Swamp. As such, they would have to be convinced that a Tree is infested by the Larvae before hacking it down.
South Eastern Nigerians are the master of tapping Palm Wine from Oil Palm Trees. Here, felling Palm Trees before extracting the Sap is very Popular. But people from this region are not interested in the larvae than the Wine, otherwise called Ogoro.
How to detect Larvae on standing Palm Tree
Edible Maggot Hunters are tactical in how they detect the presence of the Larvae in Palm Tree Trunks. They combine the five senses to conclude the presence of the Larvae as evident below.
1. Hunters uses the presence of largely yellowish Palm Tree Leaves on a standing Palm as a conclusive indication of Larvae infested Palm Tree.
2. Some Hunters make use of the characteristic smell of the Larvae to predict their presence in a Tree. They simply go close to Palm Trees to perceive the air around it for possible Smell of Larvae.
3. The Larvae are also known to make specific sounds as they eat through the frond Rachis. Hunters usually place their Ears lightly on standing Trees to Listen to the Movement of the Larvae.
4. Larvae detection in felled Palm Tree is very easy. Here, simple bubbling effect on an exposed tissue, followed by feeling with the hands could are helpful for observing the various stages of development of the Palm Tree Weevil Larvae.
Edible Larvae Resources
Environmental Impact Palmwine Larvae
Edible Maggots and Palmwine are of high economic values in Societies where they are popular. But Palm Wine Tapping and Edible maggot harvesting activities are contributing to the Rapid depletion of Palm Trees in the the African Rain Forest. Palm Trees are either destroyed by direct felling of Trees or the negative impact of sucking off the Plant's Juice that makes it to bow to the forces of wind, Rain, Animals, other Insects and Diseases. The Larvae could be a great pest that might cause very serious damage to Oil Palm Tree Plantations.