Hemijana variegata Rothschild, an edible caterpillar of Limpopo, South Africa, is little known to science but is a delicacy in the region. Harvesters believe the caterpillar is nourishing but there are no data on its nutritional value. This study reports on the proximate nutrient analysis of sun-dried (traditionally prepared) specimens and specimens oven-dried at 60 °C for three different time periods (24, 48 and 72 h). For the vitamin content analysis, fresh caterpillars were used. Drying at 60 °C for 24 h produced the highest energy value at 552 kcal/100 g while traditionally prepared caterpillars produce 306 kcal/100 g. The caterpillar was found to be rich in protein varying between 51 and 54 % for oven-dried and 44.5 % for traditionally prepared caterpillars. The fat content of 20 % is favourable, as is the percentage ash (10.47 % for traditionally prepared caterpillars), indicating elevated levels of nutrients. In fresh caterpillars, vitamin content was low for vitamin A (0.02 mg/100 g) and vitamin B1 (0.01 mg/100 g). Vitamin B2 (0.65 mg/100 g) and vitamin E (0.64 mg/100 g) were better represented. Vitamin C was high at 14.15 mg/100 g.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1