‘Tequila worms’ in mezcal bottles are actually moth larvae, researchers say

‘Tequila worms’ in mezcal bottles are actually moth larvae, researchers say


The University of Florida researchers recently discovered that “tequila worms” are, in fact, moth larvae.

The “worms” are placed inside bottles of mezcal to enhance the color and flavor of the alcohol.

Researchers extracted DNA from “worms” found in various brands of mezcal. The bottles were purchased between 2018 and 2022 from both Mexican and American distributors.

Analysts examined 18 DNA sequences and concluded that the “worms” were actually agave redworm moths called Comadia redtenbacheri. Infant moths are considered caterpillars.

According to the PeerJ study, the larvae’s DNA was more than 99% identical. 

Researcher Akito Kawahara told FOX Television Stations said, while the conclusion was unexpected, he had “no doubt” it was true. 

“It was not expected, because there has been some debate in the literature as to the specific species of ‘worm’ that is in the bottles, other than that it is of an insect,” Kawahara explained. “It was not a butterfly or a beetle, as some have thought.”

Florida researchers discovered that “tequila worms” are actually moth larvae.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

mezcal shot with chili salt and agave worm, mexican drink in mexico.
Analysts examined 18 DNA sequences and concluded that the “worms” were actually agave redworm moths called Comadia redtenbacheri.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Science can help study the world and check for the food we eat and drink for accuracy. There is no doubt that the ‘worms’ are larvae of a moth,” he concluded.

Mezcal is a traditional Mexican liquor made from agave. Tequila is a type of mezcal made from the blue Weber agave species.



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