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Ant schnapps for health and pleasure: the use of Formica rufa L. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to flavour aquavit

Svanberg, Ingvar and Berggren, Åsa (2019). Ant schnapps for health and pleasure: the use of Formica rufa L. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to flavour aquavit. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 15 , 1-17
[Research article]

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Background: The relationship between humans and insects goes long back and is important. Insects provide a multitude of ecosystem services for humans, e g. by pollinating crops and decomposing matter. Our current knowledge about the cultural ecosystem services that insects provide is limited and not much examined.
Method: Scattered ethnographical descriptions and folklore records from pre-modern Sweden and other Scandinavian countries give us insights into local knowledge and use of insects among the peasantry in various parts of the country. These data have been analysed and critically reviewed. Source pluralism has been used as a method.
Results: The mound-building red wood ant, Formica rufa L., is one of the species that were used in Sweden for their healing properties. It was a widespread belief that the formic acid could be used to cure various diseases, especially gout and rheumatism. Both anthills and the ants themselves were used for that purpose. It was also common to flavour distilled liquor (brännvin) with ants; a remedy used for medicinal purposes. However, already in the eighteenth century, this was also used as schnapps. The cultural services provided by this species stretches throughout history and still exists today.
Conclusion: While the use of ants in medicine has vanished, the custom of making homemade ant flavoured alcoholic beverage survives in Sweden. Nowadays it is a hobby among people who flavour their own aquavit. It is appreciated as a tasty and interesting drink.

Authors/Creators:Svanberg, Ingvar and Berggren, Åsa
Title:Ant schnapps for health and pleasure: the use of Formica rufa L. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to flavour aquavit
Series Name/Journal:Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Year of publishing :2019
Page range:1-17
Number of Pages:6
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Zoology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 3 Medical and Health Sciences > 301 Basic Medicine > Other Basic Medicine
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 5 Social Sciences > 504 Sociology > Social Anthropology
Keywords:Alcoholic beverages, Ethnobiology, Ethnoenthomology, Folk remedy, Insects as food, Future drinks, Local knowledge
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Additional ID:
Type of IDID
ID Code:16532
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:06 Feb 2020 08:39
Metadata Last Modified:06 Feb 2020 08:39

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