Mopane Worms (Caterpillars)-Zambian Edible Insects

Mopane worms are an incredibly important source of protein.

The thought of eating caterpillars may make you feel anything from adventurous to uncomfortable.

While others may enjoy munching on this nutritious and tasty morsel, others may cringe at the sight of it. Though they may not be first on the menu for many of us, studies have shown that a portion of edible caterpillars competes effectively with a portion of meat or fish in terms of nutritional value.



Mopane worms are originally a dish common among the Bemba tribe of the Northern Province of Zambia although they have become popular to other parts of the country as well. Locally known as ifishimu/ifinkubala (Bemba), or Vinkubala (Chinyanja),.



Mopane worms are harvested twice a year. There is usually one main harvest, during the early months of the rainy season (November to January) but a smaller second harvest occurs in April- May following good rains. After harvesting, the caterpillars are squeezed (to remove the gut contents), parboiled and dried before selling at the markets.


How to eat

Mopane worms can be eaten as a snack or served with Nshima (pap) as relish. Here is one recipe for preparing them to serve as relish:




1 cup of ifinkubala (Mopane worms)


1 medium sized tomato (diced)


1 medium sized onion (chopped)




3 tablespoons cooking oil



  1. Soak the Ifinkubala in hot water for at least 5-7 minutes


  1. Add 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan and heat it
  2. Put the Ifinkubala on the pan and fry. You can also add some salt
  3. Continue to fry until they become crunchy. This can take about 7-10 minutes depending on the heat
  4. Add some onion
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frying mopane worms

6 Continue to fry till the onions begin to brown a little

7. Then add the tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes are cooked

8.The ifinkubala is now ready to serve with Nshima. Enjoy!