Current issues involved with the identification and nutritional value of wood grubs consumed by Australian Aborigines Academic Article uri icon


  • The so called witchetty grub is a publicized food source for Australian Aborigines. Despite heavy use, the identities and number of species consumed is still not known because of the lack of identified voucher specimens. Taxonomy based on adults makes identification of larval forms difficult. Dwelling in the root, trunks, and stems of woody plants, grubs are a reliable and highly valued food source that may be in decline. Much information on edible insects may already be lost in parts of Australia heavily settled by Europeans. However, there are many parts of Australia where information on edible insects is still strong and needs to be recorded accurately for long-term use. Recent identification of "witchetty grubs" from the witchetty bush at Barrow Creek has revealed that those there, based on their DNA, are not Endoxyla leucomochla. As grubs are collected and eaten before they mature and scientific taxonomy is based on adults, there are many unanswered questions on the grub identification and biology, host plants, and plant and grub distributions.

publication date

  • 2018