Researchers at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) have identified a new edible cricket. The insect has a great promise for mass production for human consumption and as a protein ingredient in animal feeds.
The species, named Scapsipedus icipe, was collected and reared for experimental purposes at the Centre’s campus in Nairobi.
“Scapsipedus icipe is widely reared across Kenya. However, until now its true scientific information was unavailable,” said Dr Tanga Mbi, the Icipe scientist who identified the insect as part of his postdoctoral research.
The cricket has long been mistaken for a different species known as Acheta domesticus L. The study highlights the species’ habitat, molecular and nutritional profile.
“This knowledge will enable the development of proper, more effective rearing techniques, and ulti-mately the effective incorporation of the species as a component in food and feed,” said Dr Mbi.
Scapsipedus icipe is commonly found around buildings and in fields. It has a yellow band between the eyes, differentiating it from other species.
The researchers plan to conduct further studies on Scapsipedus icipe before incorporating it into in-sects for food and feed initiatives in Kenya. The discovery was recently published in the journal Zootaxa.
Crickets can breed quickly, often multiplying within 10 days.
If you eat two cricket meals in a week, you are guaranteed more protein content than a person who eats chicken regularly.
House reared crickets have 60 per cent protein content compared to chicken which has a protein con-tent of 30 per cent.
Crickets are also rich in fatty acids, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. In addition, they are safer for the environment.
According to the Association of Dutch Insect Farmers, cricket farming is a viable option for solving widespread cases of malnutrition and kwashiorkor. Crickets can be captured in the wild and reared in a closed set-up.
Typically, it takes a few weeks for adult females to start laying eggs, which can be used to expand production. Around the world, more than 2,000 insect species are eaten regularly.
Most of these species are harvested from the wild, but about nine insect species are currently reared for food and feed.