Entomophagy is widespread among indigenous people, promoting the gathering of traditional ecological knowledge of insect life histories and plant-insect interactions. In the Amazon, the cultivation of palm weevil larvae (Rhynchophorus palmarum and Rhinostomus barbirostris) for food provides an important supplement to the diets of many indigenous people. This study conducted with the Jotï people from Venezuelan Amazonia examined their traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of palm (Oenocarpus bacaba) and weevil interactions and how they have applied their TEK to optimize returns on palm weevil cultivation. They manipulate palms to induce changes in the resource-partitioning and competition that occurs naturally between weevil species, thereby increasing harvests of their preferred species of weevil. We found that the Jotï's traditional ecological knowledge was congruent with scientific findings of weevil natural history and palm and weevil interactions. This analysis identifies potential research directions that may provide solutions to agricultural problems such as palm weevil infestations in palm plantations. We conclude that understanding and preserving traditional ecological knowledge and practices is important for organisms such as palm weevils that rarely have been studied in their natural forest settings.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1