Winged 'delicacy' is the flavour of season in Bagepalli

In rural areas, people light fire around the anthill to attract alates which are then collected for the consumption

Winged 'delicacy' is the flavour of season in Bagepalli

A woman collecting alates under the streetlight on Friday night on the outskirts of Bagepalli town. DH Photo

The people in the taluk here also have a taste for something unusual. They have developed it for the alates (termites with wings) which surfaces soon after heavy rain or a drizzle.

It has been raining since the last three days, sometimes heavily and at other time it is drizzling in the taluk. As soon as it starts raining the alates spring up and as they try to reach the skies, some of them fall. In Telugu these termites are called (Esullu). It is both a pastime and a profession for some to catch these alates and store it in large quantities. Not only in villages but even in town many savour this delicacy.Even thinking about these winged insects, their mouths start salivating.

Alates (termites with wings) coming out of the anthill found on the outskirts of Bagepalli town, on Friday night. DH Photo‘Waiting to hunt’
The people who are in wait for the pre-monsoon rain, the two nights after it rains are very appropriate for them to hunt for these delicacies.
The whole family along with children gather to collect these winged termites.
In the towns, if they collect these alates below the streetlights, in the villages, they light a fire around the anthill and start collecting the alates.
The alates grow wings naturally. And as they peep out of the anthill they somehow get attracted to the glow of fire and innocently get trapped by the people waiting for the kill.
On Friday night the hunt for these alates was in full swing. The people in these regions do not call it ‘hunt.’

 They refer to it as ‘bumper crop,’ that comes once a year.The people gathered around, collect the alates using broomstick in sacks. They keep them in sacks the whole night. The next day, they remove the wings. By then the soft insects will have sacrificed their lives.

Later, the people separate all the dust and other materials surrounding the alates and dry out in the sun.

Dried and fried
After it is completely dried, they fry it to a golden brown colour in a pan.
Then they sprinkle some salt and chilli powder on the insects and pop into their mouth with glee.

A few make this into chutney also. “It is a super combination with liquor,”say a few connoisseurs. In the rural areas, a few convert this into a profession. They collect it everyday and come to the town to sell it and make some money.
Ask them what is so great about this alates, and pat comes the reply, “Just pop one or two into your mouth sir...”

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