Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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termites insects in the order Isoptera, are better known for eating timber (they have a remarkable ability to digest wood) than for being eaten themselves; but in many tropical regions they are eaten locally and even regarded as a delicacy.

Termites, often known as ‘white ants’, live in social groups with a complex caste structure which defines the tasks which any given specimen should perform. They inhabit termite mounds which can be of great size and always make their presence obvious to human or other predators. These mounds, incidentally, provide a habitat for some very large edible fungi (see termite heap mushroom) as well as for the internal ‘plantations’ of tiny fungi which the termites grow for their own use.