Why Caterpillar Fungus Is So Expensive | So Expensive

  • Published on Feb 19, 2019
  • Caterpillar fungus is a hybrid of a fungus that kills and lives in caterpillars. It has been used in traditional herbal medicine for many centuries but has gained popularity in recent decades. It can sell for up to 3 times its weight in gold. The high demand has driven up the price, which can be as much as about $63,000 per pound. Some towns in the Himalayas rely on collecting and selling this fungus for a living.
    Following is a transcript of the video:
    What would you do if a fungus invaded your body, and started consuming you from the inside? It sounds like something out of a horror film, but that's actually what happens to a certain type of baby moth.
    The fungus eats its way through the helpless moth larvae and then sprouts out of their heads like a spring daisy. But this rare hybrid, the caterpillar fungus, isn’t just totally fascinating, it’s also expensive. Sometimes selling for more than 3 times its weight in gold!
    Caterpillar fungus grows in the remote Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan Mountains but that’s not the only place you can find it. Here we are in New York City’s Chinatown. And nestled among countless drawers of dried mugwort leaves and hibiscus flowers.
    There it is a small pile of 50 or so pieces of dried caterpillar fungus. Here, 1 gram of it costs about $30. But even that might be considered a good deal. Vendors on eBay, for example, list a gram for up to $125. The price is so high because this hybrid creature is incredibly rare.
    It shows up for only a few weeks each year in remote regions of Nepal, Tibet, India and Bhutan. And even then, the fungus can be tricky for collectors to find, hidden amidst a sea of grass. For centuries, it’s been a staple of traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine.
    Kelly Hopping: "Traditionally, it was used as a general tonic, for immune support."
    For instance, a family might add half of this to a chicken soup. And it’s even rumored that it can be used as a sort of Himalayan viagra though there’s little evidence to back it up. People also buy the fungus as a gift or use it for bribes or as a status symbol. As a result, better looking pieces fetch a higher price.
    Kelly Hopping: "It’s all dependent on exactly the color of the caterpillar fungus, even the shape of its body when it died, all of these things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with medicinal value make all the difference for the economic value."
    In 2017, for example, high quality pieces sold for as much as $140,000 per kg, or about $63,000 per pound. Now, caterpillar fungus has always been pricey. But experts say its value really skyrocketed in the 1990s and 2000s because of a growing Chinese economy, and the resulting increase in disposable income. Which ultimately, helped drive a massive boom in harvest.
    In the Tibet Autonomous Region, for example, collectors reportedly hauled out more than three times as much caterpillar fungus in the early 2000s, than they did in the 1980s. And now, many families depend on the cash it brings in.
    In fact, experts say that up to 80% of household income in the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas can come from selling caterpillar fungus. One district in Nepal reported collecting $4.7 million worth of caterpillar fungus in 2016. That’s 12% more than the district’s annual budget! But those profits are at risk.
    Surveys indicate that annual harvests have recently declined.
    Kelly Hopping: "The collectors themselves mostly attributed this to overharvesting, acknowledging that their own collection pressure was driving these declines."
    And it doesn’t help that it’s difficult to regulate the harvest.
    Daniel Winkler: "All these different political units have different policy. In the end, it is really down to county level, how it’s implemented."
    Climate change is also causing problems. You see, the fungus is more abundant in areas with long, cold winters, which are increasingly hard to come by.
    Daniel Winkler: "For the rural economy, if there’s a lot of loss, that would be devastating."
    Why Insulin Is So Expensive | So Expensive
    Why Wedding Dresses Are So Expensive | So Expensive
    Why YETI Coolers Are So Expensive | So Expensive
    #Caterpillar #Fungus #BusinessInsider
    Business Insider tells you all you need to know about business, finance, tech, retail, and more.
    Subscribe to our channel and visit us at: read.bi/7XqUHI
    BI on Facebook: read.bi/2xOcEcj
    BI on Instagram: read.bi/2Q2D29T
    BI on Twitter: read.bi/2xCnzGF
    Why Caterpillar Fungus Is So Expensive | So Expensive
  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 416

  • sai76
    sai76 4 days ago +1

    It's so expensive because it makes the weiner hard.

  • arsha shakya
    arsha shakya 8 days ago


  • Destroyaar
    Destroyaar 11 days ago +1


  • 92 PLUS
    92 PLUS 12 days ago +3

    Jojo stans rise up.

  • Adam Baum
    Adam Baum 13 days ago

    That's the just plain nutty.

  • Chris Nator 2000
    Chris Nator 2000 15 days ago

    All of those things in the herbal store sounds like it should be in harry potter

  • Elyad G.
    Elyad G. 16 days ago


  • Hitler’s Cat
    Hitler’s Cat 22 days ago

    That fungus thing you said in the intro reminds me of symbiotes from marvel.

  • Royal Gopal
    Royal Gopal Month ago


  • lyman fischer
    lyman fischer Month ago +1

    A good looking woman giving ME a blow job is the only aphrodisiac I NEED...

  • Emerson Lamond
    Emerson Lamond Month ago

    Are those profits going to the communities that source it?

  • The Tree Keeper
    The Tree Keeper Month ago

    looks like a piece of booga.

  • Sumayma Alvi
    Sumayma Alvi Month ago

    I didn't see in market

  • Ahyap Chow
    Ahyap Chow Month ago

    The Chinese really their stuff, especially come health concerns, where you guys still fall behind sleeping away your life

  • Rob York
    Rob York Month ago

    My friend putted 10 of those in his water!

  • J Dillbert
    J Dillbert Month ago

    Just sausage meat passing through

  • Asher Scott
    Asher Scott Month ago


  • Anton Cvetkov
    Anton Cvetkov Month ago

    So what is used for again ? some pseudo medicine ? people are really dumb sometimes

  • DatOneBlueNarwal xD

    I actually like this. Pls don’t call me spoiled... IT TASTES GOOD OK?!

  • Denee Marie
    Denee Marie Month ago

    The f*ck is wrong with chinese people. One of their problem is over population and had implemented one child policy and yet they are the topmost country who has absurd beliefs of anything exotic to have great healing powers to cure any type of sickness to lengthen ones life. Trying to solve over population but at the same time creating weird stuffs to lengthen their lives. Stupid! Jesus!

  • Ralph
    Ralph 2 months ago

    Why do you keep calling it a hybrid?

  • Nicole Lai
    Nicole Lai 2 months ago


  • Do RC
    Do RC 2 months ago +3

    This is an example of something having perceived value just because it's rare. The fact that better looking pieces are worth more proves that. People are silly.

    • Do RC
      Do RC 2 months ago

      +stickloaf yeah. I'll be dead:)

    • stickloaf
      stickloaf 2 months ago

      yeah? well when one of those guys that eats just the right shaped caterpillar and lives to be three hundred years old you wont be laughing

  • ChrisD4335
    ChrisD4335 2 months ago

    so it started out as false hope and now its rich asshole show off stuff, hmm mmk.

  • 131028 CHOY CHEUK HANG
    131028 CHOY CHEUK HANG 2 months ago

    there was once a ancient chinese who lived a long time ago,he tried each and every stuff to see if it is eatable,and yes,he tried some toxic stuff but was save by those weird exotic things,thus the first chinese machic is born
    By the way,even if its usless,but since you spend a lot of money on it,you will feel like it did something.sometime , feeling better is the way to better health

  • nifepartie
    nifepartie 2 months ago

    I'd like to see the data they used to reach the conclusion about winter. I haven't heard a thing about winter anywhere being warmer or shorter. Actually the opposite. They must be using CNN's skewed statistics.

  • B Yip
    B Yip 2 months ago

    Calm down Animalist. The fungus killed the bug not the people. It's nature. At least we have a HEALTHFUL use for it and helping people thrive in economy. We pay for what we want, At least its for Good Health.

  • imp3r1alx
    imp3r1alx 2 months ago

    Let them learn.. sometimes after a hard lesson people will learn, maybe after the things they harvested gone forever for good

  • Moe F.
    Moe F. 2 months ago +1

    Thumbs up if you thought this was about real catepillars


    It's a mystery why asians are poor, but what's not a mystery is they put everything in their mouths.

  • Zane D
    Zane D 2 months ago

    How did I know the answer was unique growing conditions and third world market. "Hey, Bob! Come eat this thing I found growing out of a corpse, it'll make your dick hard!" $135

  • Jerry N.
    Jerry N. 2 months ago

    I'm glad I was raised by science instead of herbal magic whatevers. My parents are Vietnamese and believe in this Asian herbal medicine stuff. I'm an undergrad biology major now and seeing this would make me laugh if it wasn't so frustrating to see. What molecule in this would be medicinal? How would it interact with your cells? If there isn't an answer you know why.

  • Vinnie A
    Vinnie A 2 months ago

    @1:40 Kelly Hopping your Popping.

  • lambition
    lambition 2 months ago

    In Korea, it is called Dong Choong Ha Cho (Korean pronunciation of Chinese 冬虫夏草). It means, it is a bug in winter and grass (or plant) in summer. There are more than one type of this (grows on different bugs) and some were even farmed in Korea, but the one on the video is the original one used for medicinal purposes.

  • vin 950
    vin 950 2 months ago

    there seems to be no end to the sort of stupid stuff chinese medicine comes up with.

  • Rei pineapple
    Rei pineapple 2 months ago

    So it’s just like ginseng. My granny told me ginseng will costs more if it’s HUGE and got human like face 🤣

  • NPC 076 986
    NPC 076 986 2 months ago

    Please give us citation for your source when you reference climate change.

  • minecraftian 1045
    minecraftian 1045 2 months ago

    the chinese eats everything

  • LORDE 2729
    LORDE 2729 2 months ago

    this is disgusting. we need a meteor to wipe us out. now. ! wtf!!

  • Dan B
    Dan B 2 months ago

    chinese have some expensive memes

  • lmz
    lmz 2 months ago

    white people can pig/dog to dig the fungus and sell it expensive. that is ok.
    but when chinese eat fungus everyone went racist.

  • dauxanh 64
    dauxanh 64 2 months ago

    another expensive food cheep labor

  • Kentro
    Kentro 2 months ago +1

    Why cant it be massproduced? Just breed caterpilars and collect the spores from the fungi when they grow

  • LagiNaLangAko23
    LagiNaLangAko23 2 months ago

    Cordyceps? No thanks.

  • homie plastic cups
    homie plastic cups 3 months ago

    My Foot Rungus is cheaper

  • Mingkay Ming
    Mingkay Ming 3 months ago

    I felt queasy imagining a fungus popping out of my head ☹️

  • Walter Ruano
    Walter Ruano 3 months ago

    It’s always climate change, always! Every issue these days boils down to climate change. I’m starting to think these videos are climate change propaganda

  • ahri
    ahri 3 months ago

    Or they could just eat a healthy diet... But that's too difficult, huh?

  • Jack White
    Jack White 3 months ago

    I worry about the Chinese.

  • DAC087
    DAC087 3 months ago

    Requires additional biomedical research

  • Electron Resonator
    Electron Resonator 3 months ago

    see how they drive the demand for this fungus?, it's not by the actual benefit of the fungus, but what they believe as benefit of the fungus, even shape and color also take part if it is used as symbol of status

  • Yu Cheng
    Yu Cheng 3 months ago

    The last of us wouldn't affect them I guess

  • Vlad Hardware
    Vlad Hardware 3 months ago +1

    If you can claim something as aphrodisiac, you can even sell human feces for a fortune.

  • Door-to-Door Hentai Salesman

    If it can cure cancer then it's worth the price.

    MANXAN H 3 months ago

    Here’s a pile of my shit its worth 300$ a pound

  • Suyash Dalvi
    Suyash Dalvi 3 months ago

    Percocets Molly Percocets!

  • Mohit Kc
    Mohit Kc 3 months ago

    ATTENTION: This video has really OVERPRICED it. A pound of it would cost $30-40k in US and Europe. It costs about $18-25k in China. Now here's the frustrating part. The people in Nepal who risk their life harvesting Cordyseps, only get paid $250 per pound by the Chinese buyers.
    Such a shame.

  • Kerwin A
    Kerwin A 3 months ago

    can a dead and dry larva and mushroom still possess some sort of magical healing power after it is boiled in hot water where mostly everything that has a nutritional value break down? i guess only some dumb chinese will believe that the answer is a yes.

  • R134eS2o
    R134eS2o 3 months ago

    This is how the zombie apocalypse starts.

  • binay dahal
    binay dahal 3 months ago

    You westerners doesnt know the value of ayurveda

  • binay dahal
    binay dahal 3 months ago

    We call it yarsagumba in nepal

  • Za Ha
    Za Ha 3 months ago

    Sounds like a baby

  • God Wing
    God Wing 3 months ago

    My family sells this and it’s good for your lungs

  • Oodle Richhy
    Oodle Richhy 3 months ago

    Sometimes people not only do stupid things but also feel proud about it. 😑.

  • oddly weirdooo
    oddly weirdooo 3 months ago

    wtf is a caterpillar fungus. its cordecyeps

  • Honghao Liu
    Honghao Liu 3 months ago

    But did you know some Chinese company made them into pills and marketed the pills as even better than the fungus itself. By weight, the pills sold for a few times the already astronomical prices.

    • Honghao Liu
      Honghao Liu 3 months ago

      Like the fungus essence pill, lol

  • Parzival
    Parzival 3 months ago

    It's called Yarchagumba.

  • Sagar Shrestha
    Sagar Shrestha 3 months ago +1

    I forgot its nepali name.
    Edit: Yarsa gumba

  • Sachitanand Ray
    Sachitanand Ray 3 months ago

    "Yasagumba "

  • Draco Zard
    Draco Zard 3 months ago

    Caterpiller+fungus is not a great combo

  • m0raka_
    m0raka_ 3 months ago

    Take into account, it’s incredibly light-weight so that has a lot to do with the fact that it’s so expensive per lb

  • Ivan Cabillan
    Ivan Cabillan 3 months ago

    Xenomorph That can be use to erect genital

  • Daffa D Afiananto
    Daffa D Afiananto 3 months ago

    Imagine eating those things and then become a clicker or even a bloater

  • pooch
    pooch 3 months ago +2

    That's a cruel death to buy for such expensive price

    • Mohit Kc
      Mohit Kc 3 months ago +1

      I'll tell you whats cruel. it is harvested in Nepal in quite hostile conditions, and they get a price of $250 per pound from the Chinese Buyers, which is then taken into china and around the world and the people doing no efforts make 30-$40000. Isn't that unfair?

  • diana thamarong
    diana thamarong 3 months ago

    It can also called "Cordyceps"....I always add abit of it in my black chicken soup to cure my lungs.

  • Jonathan Tan
    Jonathan Tan 3 months ago +11

    This sounds like the beginning of the plot to "The Last Of Us". Where zombie fungus that preys on insects mutates & spreads to humans.

    • Nicole Keiran
      Nicole Keiran 9 days ago

      I mean... The real virus from Last of Us is based off a real virus.... Go back in the beginning of the episode and you'll see the scientific name is literally almost the exact name of the virus in the game.

    • Jericho Pascual
      Jericho Pascual 2 months ago +1


  • rai x
    rai x 3 months ago

    I am more interested in "Kelly Hopping | Assistant Professor"

  • Agus Sururi
    Agus Sururi 3 months ago

    Plot twiat....
    Its real caterpillar

  • Northern Nomad
    Northern Nomad 3 months ago

    It's always Asia lol

  • wonjunchunv
    wonjunchunv 3 months ago

    Free Tibet

  • lovemoviesful2
    lovemoviesful2 3 months ago +5

    Well, time to close my cannabis business and start my caterpiller fungus business.

    • stickloaf
      stickloaf 2 months ago

      so your not going to sell joints anymore?

  • ravi tej
    ravi tej 3 months ago

    Damn economics.

  • Poop Brain
    Poop Brain 3 months ago

    im confused.
    so is it a fungus or a caterpillar?

    • LagiNaLangAko23
      LagiNaLangAko23 2 months ago

      A caterpillar that has been invaded by a fungus.

  • AlphineWolf
    AlphineWolf 3 months ago

    Apparently I had some when I was little. It was recommended by a western doctor as a way to help the lungs. I was sick a lot and coughed a lot

  • IKNFLY666
    IKNFLY666 3 months ago +4

    This stuff is now banned from selling as health food or as medicine in China because there has been many cases of heavy metal/arsenic poisoning, but there is still a huge demand, Chinese are superstitious.

    • ivanlagrossemoule
      ivanlagrossemoule 2 months ago

      Chinese people can be weird with their superstitions. Still doesn't beat the guys tossing coins into the aircraft jet engines for 'good luck'.

    • lmz
      lmz 2 months ago

      they will be more worst in superstitious if cultural revolution didnt happen.

  • i HughmannTM
    i HughmannTM 3 months ago +2

    the story of discovery this fungus will b very interesting...
    how did it come to b recognized and many more questions ..

  • 虞海
    虞海 3 months ago

    Although the expensive _O. sinensis_ fungus described in this article is renowned in traditional Tibetan medicine, it actually does not contain cordycepin, a chemical with proven anti-cancer effect. The _C. militaris_ caterpillar fungus is much cheaper and contains cordycepin.
    What's more, the Chinese scientists have discovered a way to plant the cheap caterpillar fungus on corn-wheat mixture, with no caterpillar needed during the entire farming cycle, which made it even cheaper and cheaper - as cheap and a cabbage.

  • Alex
    Alex 3 months ago

    That's ancient legacy, modern Chinese of course not take it very serious unless it pass the double-blind clinical research.

  • Elveniz Nice
    Elveniz Nice 3 months ago

    Is it cordyceps?

  • Vincent Venturella
    Vincent Venturella 3 months ago +6

    Everything is rumored to be aphrodesiac.

  • Ring Neck
    Ring Neck 3 months ago

    Reminded me of aliens vs predator where the later incubate aliens inside humans for sports

  • Jose Lara
    Jose Lara 3 months ago +12

    Humans will find a way to profit off of anything

  • Captain Planet
    Captain Planet 3 months ago

    Just because it’s rare doesn’t mean it should be consumed. Wow!!

  • Bryson Omoto
    Bryson Omoto 3 months ago

    watch somebody perfect this and is able to freely manipulate this in a lab somewhere, itd be like the factory diamond problem

  • Steven Tan
    Steven Tan 3 months ago

    wow I have some

  • dianateabag
    dianateabag 3 months ago

    Why is everything an aphrodisiac in Chinese medicine 😂?

  • Pat W
    Pat W 3 months ago +4

    this got me confused.

  • Nhật Trần Long
    Nhật Trần Long 3 months ago

    In China, we call Dong Chong Xia Shao.
    In Vietnam, we call Dong Trung Ha Thao.
    It's good for health but so expensive.

    • Nhật Trần Long
      Nhật Trần Long 3 months ago

      +虞海 yes, we also grow Dong Chong Xia Shao to make it cheaper and cheaper.

    • 虞海
      虞海 3 months ago

      Nhật Trần Long Although the expensive _O. sinensis_ fungus described in this article is renowned in traditional Tibetan medicine, it actually does not contain cordycepin, a chemical with proven anti-cancer effect. The _C. militaris_ caterpillar fungus is much cheaper and contains cordycepin.
      What's more, the Chinese scientists have discovered a way to plant the cheap caterpillar fungus on corn-wheat mixture, with no caterpillar needed during the entire farming cycle, which made it even cheaper and cheaper - as cheap and a cabbage.

  • Anand Kumar
    Anand Kumar 3 months ago

    *This and Dogs would be the Pinnacle of Chinese cuisine* 😂

  • Bim
    Bim 3 months ago

    The world’s going fungus.