Depending on which part of Nigeria you grew up in – you must have heard either of these two children rhymes:
a. Kuluso Kuluso mama dey call you, make you come chop rice!
b. Kpu kpun ogene … ogene, ogenege!
Nigerian children use these songs to refer to a particular insect that makes fancy funnel-shaped pits in the sand. The insect Nigerian kids call Kuluso (Yoruba) or Kpukpunkpu Ogene (Igbo) is actually the larva of an insect called antlion.
There are several species of antlions which are all grouped into the family Myrmeleontidae.
Adult antlions resemble dragonflies in appearance and have long, translucent wings. But it is the larvae of the antlions that are more well known.
The antlion larvae’s habit of artfully constructing sand funnels to trap passing insects has brought them fame. The antlion larva is a skilful hunter. Unsuspecting tiny insects fall into its funnel trap and are consumed.
You will often see children cluster around the pit of an antlion larva clapping and singing: Kuluso Kuluso mama dey call you, make you come chop rice! Or Kpu kpun ogene … ogene, ogenege!
The adult antlions are less famous than the larvae. They also don’t live long, compared to the larvae. The adult antlion typically lives for about 25 days before it dies of old age.
Visit our previous post to learn more about what other Nigerian animals are called in the Igbo language.