PSA: There May Be Bugs in Your Strawberries
A new TikTok trend shows how saltwater can reveal some creepy maggots.
The world is pretty much a bummer right now, but at least warmer summer weather will soon be upon us. With that comes seasonal fruits and vegetables like strawberries. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good strawberry, right?
As a further sign that we’re absolutely not allowed to have nice things in 2020, it turns out that the strawberries we know and love might just be riddled with teeny-tiny worms. As with pretty much everything over the last two months, that bit of info you probably didn’t need comes direct from TikTok, where there’s a whole #Strawberrieswithbugs movement dedicated to exposing the awful truth.
That creepy-crawly worm is the larvae of the Spotted Wing Drosophila, a type of fruit fly native to Asia. The females of the species like to inject their eggs into ripening berry fruits like raspberries, blueberries, and—yes—strawberries. Sometimes, those eggs will hatch by the time that fruit ends up in your possession, meaning that you technically have tiny maggots in your fruit.
But unless you’ve gone for an ocean swim while holding a strawberry, there’s probably no way you’ve noticed them before. It takes a salt water rinse to coax the maggots out of the strawberry, which is why so many TikTokers are trying out this little science experiment. To replicate it yourself, simply add some salt to tap water, wait for it to dissolve, and watch the horror show begin. They may be hard to spot at first, given their diminutive size and similar color to a strawberry’s seeds, so keep an eye out for movement.
As unsettling as this all may be, the good news is that they aren’t really bad for you. It takes a significant number of bugs for fruit to violate the FDA’s contamination guidelines, and there’s been a good chance you’ve been ingesting these just fine without noticing up until you saw this headline.
So what can you do? Gardens Alive says that “cold slows the development of the eggs—and freezing might kill them.” You can give that a shot if you’re worried you can’t stomach eating a strawberry anymore, or you could become like Tom Brady and avoid strawberries for the rest of your life. Just don’t expect your fear of little bugs to turn you into a successful NFL quarterback.