Creation care: Celebrating vital caterpillars in West Africa
Caterpillars for sale! It’s Shiitumu Festival time in West Africa, reports CMF team member Brian Hauser, and even though they “gross him out a little,” he respects these “wiggling masses of protein” for their role in God’s care of His creation.
“These caterpillars are finger-sized and plump, and I’ve eaten some, but only when they are fried to a crisp,” said Brian. “But after some research, I’ve learned some amazing facts.”
- These caterpillars come out in immense numbers, providing abundant protein a couple months before harvest, in the leanest of times.
- They ONLY eat the leaves of the shea tree, which gives us shea butter for cooking oil and lotion, but only after the fruit of the tree has been harvested.
- The shiitumi eat ALL the leaves of the shea tree, but only the leaves of the shea tree, right in the middle of crop growing season.
- The lack of leaves in the height of the growing period favors crop production, allowing light to reach corn or millet planted near the tree.
- The voracious caterpillars also produce quite a bit of natural fertilizer, enriching the soil in both nitrogen and calcium.
“Isn’t God good?” concludes Brian. “Read Psalm 104 and celebrate how God made His creation so beautifully interdependent.”