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Thongolifha (Encosternum delegorguei)


Dzerefos, C.M. 2005. Modjadji delicacy is a bug. Bulletin. 29 July. pg 12. 

MODJADJISKLOOF – This winter the harvesting season has started for one of Limpopo’s most astonishing feasts the edible stink-bug, known as Thongolifha in Vavenda or Encosternum delegorguei to entomologists. Stink-bugs are often a pest to farmers of macadamia, cotton and beans but Thongolifha is a useful, cultural delicacy. The taste preference for Thongolifha is not shared by the se Pedi or the Lovedu but is specific to the Venda. Preliminary investigations indicate that market demand exceeds the supply and Venda harvesters travel 200 km to areas around the Modjadji Nature Reserve to harvest the bugs or else rely on poorer quality pickings from Zimbabwe and Mocambique. Dr Rob Toms from the Transvaal Museum and his students are currently researching the nutritional and medicinal properties of Thongolifha. A project on the sustainable harvesting of Thongolifha has also recently been launched in partnership with the Mandela Barloworld Agricultural College. This requires making contact with harvesters to gauge quantities removed and historic and current areas utilised. Anyone with information on Thongolifha that could assist the project can contact Cathy Dzerefos on Cel: 083-746-2239 or Email: cathy@dzerefos.com or P O Box 276 Haenertsburg, 0730.

Cathy Dzerefos has also indicated to me that Encosternum delegorguei is used in South Africa to help cure hangovers.  In this case, the stink bugs are eaten raw.

For further information, check out the following web site:


Also: "This tessaratominae, known as 'Mjele,' is about an inch in length and is very commonly eaten by the native tribes in Eastern Transvaal and in Southern Rhodesia." (Hoffmann, 1947)

Collecting Thongolifha

Preparing Thongolifha

Dried Thongolifha

All photographs courtesy of Cathy Dzerefos.

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David A. Rider
Professor of Entomology
North Dakota State University
E-Mail: David.Rider@ndsu.edu

updated: 28 Jul 2010 

Published by the Department of Entomology 

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