You might be bringing bugs in with your groceries and don't even know it.


While you might find bugs in the wild icky and bugs in your home even more distressing, you might want to rethink your weekly grocery trip. There are several ways you’re probably bringing bugs or their byproducts into your home from an average trip to the store. Read on to see the ways in which bugs are really around us.


Red Dye

Female cochineal beetles (Dactylopius coccus) eat red cactus berries and are used to make the most common natural red dye. The bugs, which are technically scale insects, not actual beetles, are ground up and all parts removed. The bright red “juice” is what’s used for the dye. You’ll find it listed as cochineal dye, carmine or natural dye 4 in everything from lipstick to ice cream.


This clear wood topcoat makes furniture shiny and dries into a protective sealant. The name actually comes from the bug that makes it: Laccifer lacca. The lac insect is a parasite to trees in Asia and turns the tree sap into a secretion that dries on the branches. The branches are collected and the dried secretion is ground up. When it reaches a manufacturer, it’s rehydrated with denatured ethyl alcohol and becomes the perfect finishing touch for anything from doors to model airplanes. While we’d never recommend tasting your furniture, it’s this same insect and process that creates shiny candy coatings that are even used on many pills.


Though synthetic fibers are certainly more common, real silk made by silkworms is still a common find in many closets. It’s easy to forget the fabric is made with what’s essentially the secretion of a worm or pupa. Silkworms are the early form of a specific species of mothBombyx mori. After eating mulberry leaves, said to create the finest silk, for six weeks, it crafts its cocoon out of about one kilometer of silk fiber. The cocoons are unwound, spun into thread and woven into silk at a rate of about 2,500 cocoons per pound of silk. 

Flu Vaccines

In 2013, the FDA approved a flu vaccine grown in insect cells. Traditionally, flu vaccines are cultured in chicken eggs, which can cause allergic reactions in many people. Relying on chickens to produce eggs can also mean delays in producing the vaccine. Using insect cells allows the vaccine to be created at a much faster pace.

At the end of the day, bugs are nearly unavoidable. Bugs are a natural part of the environment, and you’re going to wind up consuming them no matter what, as the FDA allows a certain ratio of bug parts to infiltrate processed foods. The upside is high-protein insects are consistently included in lists of the next big food trends.

If you happen to find living bugs in your everyday products that aren’t part of the ingredient list, it may be time to call a professional from Terminix® to help eliminate them.