Don’t worry.. Strawberry bugs are beneficial and do not harm health

Written By Mark

Videos have been circulating on TikTok of people submerging strawberries in salt water and watching small white insects crawling out of the fruit. Is this real, where do these insects come from, and are they harmful to humans?

Yes, it’s true, the insect is the spotted wing Drosophila, says Don Lewis, professor and entomologist at the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in Ames, USA.

This fruit fly is very small and is an invasive insect, according to Everyday Health. For fruits with thin skins, such as strawberries or raspberries, the fly penetrates the skin and lays its eggs just under the skin, which then turn into larvae and continue to grow.

Extra protein

Commercial fruit growers recommend treating strawberries with salt water for quality control, says Dr. Lewis: “For the producer, mashing strawberries or berries with either a sugar or salt solution and checking for larvae is a monitoring method used to see if pest control is effective.”

Farmers are careful not to have insects, because their presence reduces the shelf life of the berries and their storability, and not because they are harmful to the consumer, as they are not harmful.

“You can look at it like this: If there are insects, you might get a nutritional advantage,” explains Jenny Schmidt, a registered dietitian and farmer in Sudlersville, Maryland. “These larvae are so microscopic, even if you eat a quart of strawberries, you’re still consuming a tiny amount of extra protein.”

Insects in your food may bother you, but there is a very real possibility that many of the things you eat every day contain some number of insects or parts of them.

“The FDA allows it,” says Dr. Lewis, referring to the FDA’s Guide to Food Defect Levels, which the organization defines as levels of defects that are natural or unavoidable in foods and pose no health risks to humans.

“Fruit fly larvae in strawberries is just another in a long list of things that can happen with real-world food farming,” he adds.