I was watching some news magazine programme on (UK terrestrial) TV late last night and there was a feature about some highly-prized natural commodity that is dug out of the ground by kids somewhere - apparently for use in dietary supplements or some such.
The details I can remember:…
- it was a sort of semi-arid, hilly place with very low-growing scrubby vegetation, similar sort of terrain to what I’ve seen on some news reports about Afghanistan.
-The commodity looked like a cylindrical root, about two inches long and less than half an inch in diameter, topped by a tapering stalk.
-The reporter was blathering on about it being a caterpillar that gets infected by a fungus, then burrows into the ground and turns into the commodity, but he sounded really very poorly-informed (he said it was a caterpillar of the species Lepidopterus, which sort of sounds like it should make sense, but in fact doesn’t - Lepidoptera is the taxonomic order that includes all butterflies and moths)
- kids were digging up these roots/tubers/whatever and selling them to a dealer for a dollar each
- there was a brief clip of one of the objects having it’s outer bark removed and it did (sort of) have a segmented, caterpillar-like appearance.
What was it they were talking about? I should have just paid attention, but I was doing something else at the time.