Winged termites are edible insects found in the central and Eastern Uganda. They come in different sizes, types, and flavors, and appear during different seasons. They construct various types and sizes of anthills with multiple holes for aeration. Winged termites’ economic, social, and traditional value varies from type to type as well as place to place. The best time of production is between April to September.
Termites are effective decomposer organisms that feed on dead organic plant derived matter at different stages of decomposition. The winged termites, also known as white ants are edible swarming insects known for their large queen measuring about 4.2 inches in length. Their family Termitidae is divided into five subfamilies and the subfamily Macrotermitinae consists of approximately 330 specie. The most common one in Uganda include_Ntunda which are small black flying ants with delicate wings that normally emerge from knee-height. _Embobya have a stronger flavor. _Ennaka are very small black winged termites predominantly found in Bulemeezi County, and because of their flavor and rarity they are one of the most popular among all the edible flying termites. _Nsejjere – also known as Kamaresi – are the biggest and fattest among the white ants in Uganda and make relatively larger, flat-topped anthills with wide holes on the sides that can reach up to 15 centimeters in diameter. The nsejjere – reddish brown and black on top, with relatively large, hard wings and a fatty abdomen, which they lift up while moving – are considered to be the most delicious among all the white ant types. _Mpawu (in Luganda) or kamashwahi (in Gishu) are the second biggest after Nsejjere and they normally construct large and sharp pointed anthills with multiple peaks.
Winged termites are the second most consumed insect group surpassed only by the longhorn grasshopper. They are eaten fresh without cooking, boiled in salt and sun dried or roasted with only a pinch of salt added. In other occasions, they are pounded into flour after sun drying and stored for use in vegetable and groundnut soups and stews.
The Winged termites are at risk of disappearance because of increasing urbanization and the continued use of synthetic chemicals on farmlands, which destroy the habitats of these delicious insects. Termites are increasingly threatened by changes in land use from communal pastureland to organized monoculture and intensification of agricultural practices.