Ark of taste
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Chenille du karitè

The shitumu, as they are called locally, are caterpillars, or the larvae of a night butterfly (Cirina butyrospermi) that lives only 72 hours. This caterpillar lives exclusively on shea tree leaves. The females lay around 450 eggs and only the fertilized eggs will develop into caterpillars if they are not affected by parasites during the month-long incubation. The caterpillars undergo five mutations before they are harvested by women of the Bobo tribe, a tribe living in the the Bobo-Dioulasso Region in the Houet Province of northwestern Burkina Faso.   The caterpillars are used in different traditional dishes: they can be boiled, fried, used in soups or salads. They are gathered before their metamorphosis into cocoons, immerged in boiling water, drained, dried and then fried in oil. They can also be cleaned and then dried in the sun for later use. They serve as an accompaniment to a number of dishes and are also used as a filling in sandwiches. Because of their high protein content, the shitumu represent an important nutrition element for the local population. Each August, the local people celebrate a festival dedicated to this food, which brings together about 200 of the women who gather the caterpillars.   About 50 tons of caterpillars were harvested in 2013, most of which were sold locally in Burkina Faso, but also in neighboring countries such as Ghana and Nigeria. However, overharvesting threatens the future of this local food source. Initiatives are in place to emphasize the importance of leaving some larvae to grow and continue the reproductive cycle to maintain their presence in the area and a continuous population for future generations to use and enjoy.

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StateBurkina Faso


Production area:Bobo-Dioulasso Region, Houet Province, from Kombissiri until Po

Other info



Indigenous community:Bobo
Nominated by:Moussa Ouedraogo