So, with a bottle of Tequila in hand, a glass, and oooppss - it's the last shot and the worm falls out! Now - do you consume it? Or - just throw it? But what type of worm is it and are they specially grown/produced for the drink? There are a lot of stories about if the worm is real or not - but if I am offered a drink of Tequila and a worm is in it - well what then?

mezcal con gusano

Tequila Worm

3 Answers 3


Not all types of tequila contain a tequila worm. The tequila worm or as it should be known as the Mezcal worm is normally only found in Mezcal (tequila).

The worm is reserved for a drink known as Mezcal, which, according to some, is tequila’s big brother. But the two spirits are entirely different. Tequila is distilled from any number of natural Mexican plants and can bear the name as long as the finished product consists of at least 51% agave. Mezcal must be 100% agave. - Should You Eat the Tequila Worm?

Most people would not eat the mezcal worm, but in some cultures it is quite acceptable.

There are no proven side effects that come with consuming a Tequila worm. While the worm is popularly called the tequila worm, it is only found on the bottom of a bottle of mezcal, a variety of tequila obtained from distilling blue agave and similar plants. The meriposa worm is grown on agave from which mezcal is made, and when a worm is added to the mezcal, it is known as mezcal con gusano.

Consuming the worm after drinking mezcal is a popular tradition among many communities, but it is not clear where the tradition originated. Some believe that the adding the worm in a bottle of mezcal signifies the purity of the alcohol, as it hinders the disintegration of the worm. Others believe that it is merely a marketing strategy among Mexican liquor producers.

While it's documented in media that the eating the worm causes hallucinations, this has yet to be medically proven. The worm is pickled in alcohol for more than a year and is made sure to be free to pesticides, before being added to mezcal. It is also a popular delicacy in Mexican restaurants, and is said to have positive psychological effects. - What happens when someone eats a Tequila worm?

As for myself, I think I will pass on this offer!

  • Aw, and I was quite happy to share it with you! Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 5:57
  • Not sure about "consists of at least 51% agave. Mezcal must be 100% agave". Do you have an authoritative source? I think Tequila should be 100% blue agave, mezcal might be a mix of many agave species.
    – c.p.
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 7:58

Generally speaking worms would be found in a drink called mescal or mezcal (same thing), and not in tequila. Mezcal is related to tequila, but not as well known outside of Mexico, which is why the worm in tequila myth started.

There are two types of worms you can find in mezcal. The white worm is a larva of the beetle Scyphophorus Acupunctatus. The red worm, the taster one, is a larva of the moth Comadia Redtenbacheri from the Cossidae family of moths. They both invade agave plants (what tequila and mezcal are made from), which is why those are the worms that go in the bottle.

Choosing whether to eat it or not is entirely up to you. On the one hand, the mezcals that have a worm in the bottle are usually bad. It first appeared in bottles around the 1940's or 50's, likely as a marketing gimmick, so it's not some ancient tradition. Opposed to what some people claim it won't get you drunk, you won't hallucinate, and it won't make you horny. The booze is good enough at that stuff anyway. On the other hand, it does actually change the mezcal's chemistry so you can't prove it's in there only for marketing. Both types of worm are eaten even when they aren't alcohol soaked, there are worm tacos and sal de gusano (gusano meaning worm so, worm salt). In Naturalis Historia, Pliny the Elder wrote that larvae, fattened up with flour, was one of the most delicate dishes and highly appreciated by Romans. In fact the larvae that Pliny wrote about may be of the same Cossidae family as the red mezcal worm. This book was written around 70 AD.... so there is some ancient history there after all. Most importantly though.... it's kind of fun. You get to say you ate the worm, most people won't. (Chants... dooo it, doooo it, doooo it.)

  • What's that I hear - 'doooo it doooogal'. Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 5:43

Me and my son ate the two worms that came in a bottle of mezcal we drank on his 21st birthday, it had no effect on us at all above the drunkeness we got from the mezcal apart from its foul taste that stayed for the next few hours. It tasted like wet rotten leather washed with ashtray juice and would be the worst thing i have ever swallowed. My son made his even worse by chewing it first! Definitely not worth trying at all! Even if it offerd some sort of extra kick or effect (which it does not) I would never do it again.

  • 1
    I love the ashtray bit here - how do you know what ashtray juice tastes like! Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 6:05
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    If you smoke and have ever accidentally drank a beer that some one put a cigarette out in then you know what a ash tray taste like 🤮 Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 13:20

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