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Nsenene
Ruspolia nitidula, a close relative
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Ensifera
Superfamily: Tettigonioidea
Family: Tettigoniidae
Subfamily: Conocephalinae
Tribe: Copiphorini
Genus: Ruspolia
Species: R. baileyi
Binomial name
Ruspolia baileyi
Otte, 1997
Synonyms

R. brevipennis (Chopard, 1954)

Nsenene is the Luganda name for a long-horned grasshopper (more commonly called bush cricket or katydid) that is a central Ugandan delicacy as well as an important source of income. The insect is also eaten in neighbouring areas of Kenya and Tanzania. Traditionally in Uganda, nsenene were collected by children and women. They were given to the women’s husbands in return for a new gomasi (a traditional dress for women). Although the women were made to do the treacherous work of collecting nsenene, they were never allowed to eat them. It was believed that women who consume nsenene would bear children with deformed heads like those of a conocephaline bush cricket. Nowadays, nsenene are consumed by most women in the areas where this insect is traditionally eaten.

Taxonomy

Nsenene is often misidentified as Ruspolia nitidula. In fact, R. nitidula is a Eurasian species. Specimens from southern Africa have been synonymised with this species, but further research may show them to belong in fact to a different species. The species that occurs most commonly in Africa is R. baileyi and this is actually the correct scientific name of nsenene. This does not exclude the possibility that among the nsenene caught for consumption there may occasionally be a different species, like R. differens, R. persimilis or R. punctipennis.

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