Bug diet recommended for HIV-positive people

A diet supplement of South Africa's edible bugs and worms could boost the nutrition levels of people living with HIV/AIDS, an insect expert has said.

Transvaal Museum entomologist, Rob Toms, said the mopane worm (Imbrassia Belina), a delicacy in parts of Southern Africa, was considered particularly healthy because of its high protein, crude fat and mineral content.

He also said stinkbugs (Pentatomidae), a common agricultural pest that emits a nasty odour and is traditionally consumed by some people in the north of the country had considerable nutritional value.

"A nutritious diet for people living with HIV/AIDS could cost well over US $136 a month, but in an area where mopane [worms] are abundant, you could pick them off trees yourself," the South African Press Association (SAPA) quoted Toms as saying.

Presenting his recommendations at a recent AIDS symposium in Cape Town on the importance of good nutrition for people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, Toms said the caterpillars "offer a cheap way to stay healthy".