I bought prepackaged pine nuts and to my suprise, I found bugs in it. The expensive price of the pine nuts make me a bit hesitant to throw it out (about 6 euros for 90 grams ish).

My question is, can i use pine nuts after washing? could it be possible that the bug laid eggs inside the nuts? How would I identify those eggs to remove?

Here is a picture of the bug I found:

enter image description here


I went back to the store and complained. They gave me a fresh batch of pine nuts, so problem solved.

  • 5
    Personally I wouldn't eat any bug no matter how much you washed it, but I've heard the larger ones can be somewhat tasty if fried.
    – Onyz
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 10:32
  • I don’t know about washing, but I would suggest moving the pine nuts to the freezer as soon as possible… which should kill the bugs, (and slow the pine nuts from spoiling), so that once there’s an answer, you can then proceed
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 11:47
  • Are you not able to return them? Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 17:17
  • It's been a week since I bought... @RichardTingle Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 17:49
  • 3
    The bugs aren't getting any fresher - take it back. The store or supplier have a serious health breach, which must be reported.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 18:21

5 Answers 5


Take it straight back to the shop.

They will have to pull the entire product line from sale & have it checked by the health authorities.

If they have any common sense, they will also award you a lot of freebies for not telling the whole world...

  • 9
    OP's profile indicates they are from south India. Health codes or at least penalties could be non-existent.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 18:52
  • 5
    Sorry, I don't believe it. For a single bug? Maybe in a recluse feeble population...
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 19:24
  • 10
    @MonkeyZeus If there's one bug, there are almost certainly more, especially if the bug is alive. And even if the bugs aren't of the type to make food poisonous or are poisonous themselves, the bugs aren't the concern so much as the potential health and safety hazards surrounding the food's production, transportation, and storage that the bugs' presence suggests. Bits and pieces of bug are expected and unavoidable in produce, but whole live bugs means someone either screwed up or is cutting corners they shouldn't be.
    – Abion47
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 20:32
  • 1
    @MarkMorganLloyd I think step one should have been to get clarification from OP whether this came from a chain store, street vendor, or other. Good traded often times have higher standards than what's kept in-country.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 12:47
  • 2
    I actually live in Kuwait, but still, even here this is quite expensive in terms of the average cost for how much groceries should cost... especially toe the quantity Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 16:52

This is the larva of a pantry moth. Safe, normal thing to find in an agricultural product.

I had a pretty bad infestation of them a few years ago (they came in with some rice I think) and can say quite confidently that if they were toxic, I (and probably most of us) would be dead.

Pine nuts are, believe it or not, a biological product. Plants grow in dirt and sometimes an egg or two make it through even rigorous QC. Is it yucky? Sure. You'll want to get some pantry moth pheromone traps to keep the rest of your pantry tidy. Big infestations make a big mess but it's nothing to lose sleep over.

As a general rule, you can eat nearly any insect larva that isn't brightly colored or furry. The yucky fleshy looking ones are usually the best to eat.

Pantry moth lifecycle

  • 1
    Seems so there are four or five different answers with conflicting infromations Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 18:35
  • 5
    @ReineAbstraktion that's not surprising when they're not toxic. This of us that grow some of our own food are used to eating stuff we know has had contact with insects, but not everyone thinks the same
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 18:48
  • 2
    Everyone eats bug eggs and larvae, they just don't realize they're doing it.
    – barbecue
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 19:47
  • 2
    @ReineAbstraktion Many people have a strong aversion to consumption of insects, so for a question like this you’re bound to get mixed answers. For the record, the statement in this answer that they are generally safe is accurate (provided of course that the food source they are feeding on is safe, which it should be in this case), but the sentiment some others express about taking it back to the shop is still reasonable. Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 4:59
  • 2
    There is no contradiction, the larvae per se are harmless. But you want to consider a few not-so nice details. One, the feces. The larvae eat and poop and I am personally not keen on eating that. Second, there’s indicators that they and/or the fences can cause allergies in some people. This is the reason why some health authorities declare infested foods as not suitable for human consumption.
    – Stephie
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 14:05

The larvae of some kinds of food moths look very much like this. I'm not a bug expert, but I've been unlucky enough to have had them several times.

If that's what it is, they are not directly dangerous to human health. They are however unpleasant and annoying and will spread to many kinds of dried food (especially seeds, nuts and grains, they love pine kernels) unless it's very tightly sealed. You will not want to eat food that they've been in for any length of time and can end up throwing lots of stuff out.

Freezing should kill them, but I'd put the pine kernels in a tightly sealed jar and take it back to the shop tomorrow.

  • 4
    Yes it reminds me somewhat of what we'd call a pantry moth lava which can be a real pain to get rid of once you have an outbreak. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 22:54
  • 2
    As I child I once chowed down on some cereal that was full of meal worms. No ill effects but it was disturbing. @DavidWaterworth I purchased some hanging moth sticky traps that were phenomenal and seem to have eliminated a persistent pantry infestation. I initially failed to pull the wax paper off the glue patch and the moths forced their way under it to find their death. They worked even better when properly deployed.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 15:43

Such worms are larvae, typically of food/pantry moths. The moths are not harmful but some German sources suggest that the feces and other contamination caused by them may cause allergies or digestive issues.

In earlier times, before the blessings of silicone seals and double Ziploc bags, people routinely sieved their flour to remove insects; but then they did all kinds of unhealthy things and didn't have much of a choice anyway.

The yuck factor is a good reason to throw them away or take them back to the shop but I would not expect anybody to get sick if the nuts are heated sufficiently, for example when used for baking.

It is noteworthy that in principle the moth is nutritionally quite valuable; many insects, some moths among them, have been evaluated as beneficial in human nutrition. Essentially, like larger animals, they transform less valuable carbohydrates and fibers to more valuable proteins.


The likes of what you show in the picture are young forms of insects, not yet ready to reproduce. As such, they cannot lay any egg in whatever they are found.

There can be unhatched eggs deposited by the same parent who laid the egg from which the bug you found came out, and there can be the feces and other residuals produced by the bug during its sojourn in the package. Additionally, wherever the bug has eaten there might be some spoiling caused by the eating process. Last but not least, some bug can produce and release defensive means in the environment where they roam.

If I had to choose, I would err on the side of caution and discard the whole package.

  • 4
    Don't discard it. Take the whole pack back to the shop if you're not prepared to use them because they seem to be contaminated.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:51
  • 4
    Washing the bugs out isn't the issue. The issue is they we there at all.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 18:22
  • 2
    "Bugs are young forms of insects"... I'm sorry, but at best that is locale-specific. In the UK we call them grubs, maggots or- sometimes- worms, and "bug" is rarely used except in the context of biting insects. Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 12:39
  • @MarkMorganLloyd, what is in the picture is not an adult insect. It doesn't lay eggs
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 12:42
  • 1
    @L.Dutch Not relevant. "Bug" is imprecise, you should call it a larva. Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 12:44

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