Sunday, February 28, 2010

A worm in my banana

Today I found a larva in my banana. My first reaction was not unlike most any other's: ew. But the entomologist in me quickly took over, so my "ew" lent itself to curiosity, amusement, and even did choose my banana, after all.

A larva, likely a moth, in my banana.
Kind of cute.

Never having found a larva in a banana, I think I'll rear it out to an adult. It is some sort of moth (order Lepidoptera). Identifying larvae to their order, such as beetle (order Coleoptera), fly (order Diptera), etc.) is easy based on features like the prolegs, body shape, and head. But beyond that it gets dicey, and even accomplished entomologists simply resort to rearing out a larva to the adult stage, at which point wing venation is used to for more specific ID (genus or species level).

The same is true for you...if you find a larva somewhere unexpected and your curiosity outweighs the gross factor, rear it out! Then you can get help with a more specific ID, which will help you learn more about it and allow you to modify the environment so as to deter the critter from returning (as in the case of pantry pests) or encourage it (as in the case of garden beneficials). Keep your rearing environment similar to the conditions in which you found the larva; pay attention to humidity, light level, food source, and temperature. In this case, I simply left the little guy in the banana, folded the peel back over it, and put the whole thing in a terrarium placed away from sunlight (similar conditions to my kitchen cupboard). In 1-2 weeks, I will be the proud momma of an adult Lepidoptera.


Murr Brewster said...

I hope you report back. Little guy looks like an iris borer but that seems highly unlikely. I don't take surprises well, and I'm afraid if he'd been in my banana he'd have learned how to fly a little prematurely.

zapatos manolos said...

do you really feel that A larva, likely a moth, in your banana is
Kind of cute~maybe girls will be frighten~

Lauralee said...

How fascinating.... wow.... I would have never thought I'd see the day someone called a larvae cute. Did i spell that right?

Judith Yamada said...

Yikes! As a chef and baker, I'm quite conscious of extraneous protein wandering through my food. I once found a live slug in a salad made by a friend, and I'm still suffering from post traumatic stress. As you might imagine, I have the cleanest cool and crispy greens in town. Think I'll start cutting my fruit into little pieces.

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Joachim said...

Aloha JP,

Curious of what it turned out to be!

I am a Kona, Hawaii coffee farmer and recently found a similar larva in a fresh picked coffee cherry, eating the actual bean. Here is a macro video I took:

I suspect it to be also a banana moth, which we have as a pest in our coffea arabica trees. But normally boring inside the coffee branches. Not in the beans.

Larva died and shriveled up in the meantime.

Feel free to email me at

JP said...

Hi folks,

Joachim -- that looks like a fat and happy larva. I could not begin to guess what it is, but I'd say rear it out if you get any more in your coffee beans. Only the rare specialist can ID a larva, and even then, not often to species. Good luck!

Update on mine: I folded the banana peel back over and placed his fruity abode in a dark, undisturbed area. He had vacated in 3 days, without a trace. Most likely crawled out, pupated and flew away. Next time. :)

Thanks for all your comments and interest.

Patricia Lichen said...

Love this--it's not everyone who appreciates finding larva in their breakfast! Thanks for the fun post.