By Sadie Whitelocks For Dailymail.com
20:40 29 May 2023, updated 20:41 29 May 2023
- Texas-based entomologist Cassie Krejci addressed the tequila worm in a TikTok
- She explained it is actually a moth caterpillar called the gusano de maguey
- And, if worms are present in the bottles, it can be a sign the spirit is good quality
An insect expert has revealed the real reason ‘worms’ are put inside bottles of tequila – and the truth might surprise you.
Texas-based Cassie Krejci, who is also a qualified entomologist and pest control specialist, took to TikTok to explain how the story of the tequila worm is one of her ‘favorite insect facts’ to share with people.
In her video she reveals that the worm itself is actually a moth caterpillar called the gusano de maguey which feeds on the maguey plant – a member of the agave family used to produce the liquor.
The insect expert then explains the significance of the caterpillar, stating that if it makes its way into a bottle of tequila or mezcal it is actually a ‘higher quality’ product.
Touching on how the tradition came about, Cassie continues: ‘In the 40s and 50s when tequila was flooded into the United States mezcal needed a way for it to differentiate its product and so the worm was introduced as a sign of purity to help the sale of mezcal.’
While Cassie says the ‘worm’ is somewhat of a gimmick, it is a good indicator of punchy liquor.
Putting her science hat on, she says: ‘What does this mean from an entomological persective?
‘Whenever we preserve soft bodied insects like moth larva we want to put them in 70 per cent alcohol or higher otherwise they fall apart over time and they don’t last very long in our vials.
‘So anytime that you get a bottle of tequila or a bottle of mezcal that may have a worm in – it’s again still a marketing ploy – but the idea is that the mezcal is at least 70 per cent alcohol or 140 proof and it can be a way of proving that you have really quality stuff.’
Cassie confirmed to DailyMail.com that the worms are safe to eat and ‘based on food safety regulations in the US, the manufacturers of such products would need to lab-raise the worms to make sure they were free of bacteria, fungi and other pathogens before including them in their products.’
She added: ‘No caterpillars caught in the wild would be included in US-manufactured tequila.’
New York-based spirits expert Tom Higbee also told DailyMail.com that worms ‘virtually aren’t used anymore’ in the tequila business.
But commenting on the flavor, he said: ‘Well, they taste like tequila, or mezcal, but the texture is pretty off-putting to me. It’s no wonder they’ve become less popular.’
Cassie’s other TikTok videos address a range of other pest-related topics, from termite invasions to bed bug infestations.
And, while her tequila worm TikTok has been watched more than 12,000 times, her second most popular video addresses how to check for bed bugs in hotel rooms.
She says the first thing she does as soon as she checks into her room is leave her baggage in the bathroom, advising that it is best to leave it on hardwood or tile surfaces as it stops the bedbugs from crawling into your suitcase from the get go.
She continues: ‘So to find bedbugs, it’s important to understand a little bit about bed bug biology.
‘First, they’re mostly nocturnal feeders, which means they’re only going to try and feed on people at night.’
And because people spend the majority of their night in the bed, she said it is important to begin your inspection there.
She explained: ‘The first thing that I do is take the covers off the bed and and make sure they’re all clean. But then you take your bottom sheet and lift it up as well.’
Cassie demonstrated this as she tells travelers that it is important to keep an eye out for any stains or spots on the sheets.
These brown spots are most important to look out for, as the expert explained they’re called fecal spots, left after bed bugs have ‘digested blood.’ The creatures leave behind ‘brown fecal spots resembling that of blood.’
Other spots she checks in hotel rooms are in the drawers next to the bed and under the chair cushions.