Cruncy, salty mopane worms are a favorite snack in Zimbabwe and other parts of southern Africa. The “worm” is actually a caterpillar of Gonimbrasia belina, commonly known as the Emperor moth. It is called a mopane (or mopani) worm from its diet — the leaves of the mopane tree.
Ounce for ounce, mopane worms contain three times as much protein as beef. They have a whopping 31 mg of iron per 100 grams of dry weight, and are a good source of potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper and B vitamins.
To harvest mopane worms, mature caterpillars are plucked by hand (or shaken from higher branches) and placed into buckets. Stubborn worms are pried loose with a stick. As they are handled, the worms excrete a brown liquid, which leaves the pickers’ hands slippery and wet. Continue reading