Watch out for Spotted Wing Drosophila!!!
Watch out for Spotted Wing Drosophila!!!
Photo: Stephen Smith (Getty Images)

Good morning! How is everyone on this fine spring day? Are you about to fix yourself a lovely springtime breakfast, perhaps a bowl of fruit to pair with a croissant and some French press coffee? Are you going to wash that fruit in salt water first so as to evacuate all of the bugs currently living inside of it? The worms and mites and larvae? Again, good morning! You’re probably much more awake now!

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Over on the blessed diversion that is TikTok, it’s not all viral dances and flip-the-switch memes. Sometimes its most popular videos take the form of PSAs. Posts tagged #strawberrieswithbugs have recently gained steam on the social media platform as people try washing their strawberries with salted water and film the results. What happens...is that bugs start crawling out of the strawberries.

Krista Torres tried this herself and wrote about the results on BuzzFeed. Sure enough, as soon as she had submerged the berries in saltwater, she could see tiny worms escaping on the skin of the berry. They’re hard to see, because they’re the same color and shape as the strawberry seeds, but after careful inspection, Torres confirms that she saw these bugs on six of her eight strawberries.

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The Spotted Wing Drosophila, a species of fly native to Asia, is the culprit. The females inject ripening fruit with their eggs (most commonly strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries), and those eggs can hatch within the fruit before it’s sold to the end customer. Since the bugs that emerge from the berries are the larval stage of a fly, these aren’t technically worms... they’re maggots. Is anyone feeling better thanks to that distinction?

Torres points out that the insects aren’t harmful to our health; indeed, the FDA’s contamination guidelines require a lot more bugs to be present in food before it’s considered unfit for consumption. Plus, as our friends at Brooklyn Bugs keep demonstrating, insects don’t have to be shunned from our table—they can be the main event.

So, now we know: Our strawberries are likely crawling with tiny insects. Does the fact that you’ve been consuming an untold quantity of bugs every summer of your life bother you enough to stop eating nature’s candy? Will you painstakingly soak your fruit in saltwater from here on out? Or will you simply count your blessings and feel relief that these bugs are at least too small to think that much about, unlike, say, an entire live frog in your carton of lettuce?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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