There are some things you need to know about that tequila worm that’s lying there in the bottom of the bottle. People will sometimes feel they must prove their machismo (or machisma) by swallowing it whole, or worse yet, chew it up before swallowing it. So, what is this thing and what the heck is it doing there?

Tequila Worm

That lovely little critter is in the bottom of mezcal bottles, not tequila. So, technically, it is a mezcal worm, not a tequila worm, because it is only found lying there dead in the bottom of a bottle of mezcal. To further complicate the matter, tequila is a special type of mezcal. Mezcal is any ol’ type of agave liquor.

So, back to the drowned worm. The worm is a moth larva, gusano de maguey. It feeds on the maguey plant. It would have turned into a Mariposa moth, but hey, it is in the bottle of mezcal instead. Why?

Well, the gusano de maguey just happens to be a popular treat in areas of Mexico. Given that so many farms make mezcal, why buy any particular brand over another? When a gusamo de maguey snack lover see a bottle of mezcal on the shelf that has his favorite snack inside, he’s like, “Wow! A free tasty snack comes with!” and he buys the one with the worm in the bottom.

There you go, a tradition is born. Legends began with the drunk tourists shortly thereafter.

So, the bad news is, all those “tequila worms” you swallowed to prove what a toughie you are, didn’t do anything for you. And if they were in the bottom of a bottle of tequila, your buddy put them there. Who knows what that was. It could have been a tomato worm, for all you’ll ever know.