The tribals catch the red ants or the soldier ants and eat them either raw or cooked. Elders believe they have medicinal properties.
There are even shops in the village market that stock up on soldier ants for people to purchase from. Soldier ants are small and coppery-brown in colour. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2mm to 6mm.
Though this insect doesn’t have a stinger, yet it can inflict a painful bite. The formic acid aggravated the pain.
Consuming red ants is believed to cure acidity and enhance eyesight, while its eggs help to keep the body cool and prevent sunstroke.
The ants, which taste sour because of the formic acids secreted from the abdomen, are mashed with salt, garlic, chilli and oil. This chutney is then eaten with rice.
Sometimes, tomatoes and onions are added to the dish to enhance its flavour.
According to entomologists, insects, including ants, are a good and eco-friendly source of proteins and nutrients. However, because of taboos and ignorance, the mere thought of consuming them makes people cringe.