Flying Ants in Zimbabwe - A Delicacy Worth Trying

If you find yourself in Zimbabwe during December, you may have the opportunity to try flying ants, also known as "ishwa" in Shona. These insects are the second most popular food in Zimbabwe after mopane worms. They are found in central and east Mashonaland, Mavingo, and Harare and are available only during the mating flight in the second month of the rainy season.

The Ishwa is a white colored ant and when they take to the skies they do so in swarms. Harvested from termite mounds, the fresh ants are fried, dried, re-fried with salt and water, and then re-dried, creating a double-fried and double-dried dish. The process of drying the ants is important as it removes the wings and legs, leaving only the nutritious bodies.


Once prepared, flying ants have a slightly nutty taste and a crunchy texture. You might say a double-fried and double-dried dish. The flavor is often described as earthy and rich, and the texture is similar to that of popcorn or peanuts.


You can now find precooked flying ants in many shops in Harare, and they are typically enjoyed with sadza, vegetables, and gravy. However, many locals still prefer to prepare them at ""Home"", as it is a traditional and cherished practice.

It is worth noting that the Ishwa should not be confused with the Matabele ants, which are black colored and if touched give a painful sting. Nor should you mix them up with the Stin ant (also closely related to the Matabele ant). The Ishwa is a safe and delicious food that is enjoyed by many Zimbabweans during the rainy season.