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Chili Powder Beetles

Mary cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, which entailed sorting out all the various spice jars. She thought the Chili Powder looked a bit odd and, indeed, it did: a whole colony of beetles and their larvae was a-squirm in there!

The label states:

All Natural

non irradiated — no preservatives

Frankly, I don’t see any particular problem with food irradiation.

If you’re the sort of person who cooks your meals, as we are, then you’re eating plenty of denatured proteins and broken DNA anyway. In this case, snuggling that jar up to a nice warm Cobalt-60 slug for a few minutes would have been a great improvement.

The main ingredient, of course, is “chili peppers”. The remainder doesn’t sound particularly life-sustaining, though: oregano, cumin, garlic, sea salt, and spices. Anything that can live off that brew must have a bad attitude, the way I see it.

Being that sort of bear, I’d written the date on the label: 19 Aug 08. So, in round numbers, we use two ounces of Chili Powder a year. Obviously, we shouldn’t buy that stuff in bulk…

Those are millimeters on the scale it’s crawling on, so these are little bitty bugs.

[Update: Useful advice from the UC IPM folks.]

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  1. #1 by randomdreams on 2010-01-08 - 11:00

    On the one hand, ya think, dude, those have got to be some badass bugs to live in pure chili.
    On the *other*… it appears to me that only mammals are really suseptible to the hot in chili. I came to this conclusion when I had a couple cockatoos. They’d eat incredibly hot peppers without concern: they loved them. So, if your bugs don’t have receptors for hot, it was probably a big bottle of nummy organic goodness as far as they were concerned.

    Soooo when are you going to build a particle accelerator and treat your own food?

    • #2 by Ed on 2010-01-08 - 11:50

      Mmm, let’s see…

      • Radium watch dials: check
      • Beryllium-copper tape: check
      • Huge solenoid winding: check
      • Low-voltage, high-amp power supply: check

      Clear!

      No carrier…

  2. #3 by CircuitGizmo on 2010-01-08 - 16:26

    Well that just put me off of food for the day.

  3. #4 by Tiffany Mendiola on 2010-05-28 - 23:56

    I just found the same bugs in my chili powder yesterday!! I’ve owned it for two years and had it in a plastic zip bag, but the bugs were not obvious until today. It was red chili that came from Mexico. Those cheap spices caused a bettle infestation in my kitchen. Yuck.

    • #5 by Ed on 2010-05-29 - 07:43

      owned it for two years

      You’re obviously not using enough chili powder, either!

      We tucked our new jar in the freezer, where it’ll stay until chili season returns: a few months below freezing should kill off whatever’s living in there…

  4. #6 by jaretetom on 2012-10-24 - 15:27

    I just saw these little bugs in a powdered chili jar that’s been closed for a year now! It’s crazy how they can live in such a small space for so many generations.

    • #7 by Ed on 2012-10-24 - 16:06

      I suppose until they’ve eaten the last speck of food, there’s no problem… reminds you a bit of humanity, doesn’t it? [sigh]