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Caterpillars, grubs, maggots and weevils

Updated on January 19, 2013
BlossomSB profile image

Although Bronwen has only a small garden now, she continues to be interested in gardens, plants and the bugs that attack.

A camouflaged case-moth
A camouflaged case-moth | Source

What a lot of weird, horrid crawly creatures!

To make them hubpages features

Seems a bit far-fetched,

Yet on our minds these are etched.


These larval forms of various insects are often transformed into things of beauty, creatures that are useful, or even creatures that are edible for human beings. We admire the butterfly so much that we often use the image in our craft-work, our embroidery, cross-stitch and even quilling.

On my grape-vine
On my grape-vine | Source

Caterpillars

It's a little like the story of the ugly duckling, really. The caterpillar may seem ugly, or at least a pest when it voraciously devours our garden plants at a rate of knots. Yet, when we look at him closely, he is quite wondrously made, with delightful patterns and colours. And, later, of course, he will take a rest while he transforms into a thing of beauty that is carried away on diaphanous wings. The caterpillar is the larval form of members of the Lepidoptera order; it is herbivorous, as we well know, and some people who like to catch butterflies are known as Lepidopterists.

Embroidered butterfly
Embroidered butterfly | Source

Grubs

We talk about 'grubbing about' in the garden, meaning that we're digging in the soil. That is just what grubs do and there are many different types of grubs. In Australia, we have quite a variety, many of which turn into beetles, although some are the larva of moths.

That reminds me of a favourite joke when I was a teenager. I actually stood up and told it at Music Camp at Geelong Grammar one year. It was about a boy who was a keen collector of butterflies and moths. He was delighted when he bought a new book with his pocket-money, but found it was all about babies instead. The title: Handbook for New Mothers!

Bardi Grubs

There are the Bardi grubs that fishermen love to use for bait, especially along the mighty Murray River where they can be found among the roots of River Red Gums and Black Wattle trees. The Gums are huge and sturdy, but the daintier Black Wattles often die young, killed by the Bardi grubs. So keep up the good work, fishermen, you may be saving a Black Wattle!

Witchetty Grubs

Actually, there are a few different grubs that are referred to as witchetty, or witjuti grubs, but they are all large, white and edible. They are looked upon by traditional Australian aborigines as a delicacy and may be eaten raw or cooked. They are an excellent source of protein and I believe they taste good, too, but I haven't tried them. There's a bush in Central Australia that has been called a witchetty bush as they like to devour its roots. Traditionally, it's women's work to dig these grubs and we call them the larva of different types of cossid moths, such as the ghost moths and longhorn beetles.

Huge model of a beetle in a park in Taipei
Huge model of a beetle in a park in Taipei | Source
My Cross-stitch
My Cross-stitch | Source

Maggots

Recently, there was quite an outcry because a passenger on a Qantas flight found a number of maggots in her Trail Mix. I would have thought they were weevils as maggots don't usually go much for nuts and dried fruit.

Maggots are the larva of a fly, usually what we call blow-flies. In the days when we went camping without refrigeration, just a folding 'Coolgardie' safe, that had sides of hessian kept wet from a reservoir at the top, we often had the disaster of flies 'blowing' the cooked meat. The blowflies would be buzzing around during the meal, one might land momentarily on the meat, but long enough to lay some eggs. By the next day, the eggs would have hatched into maggots and be crawling over the meat, making it inedible. Fishermen also put these creatures to good use, putting out pieces of meat to get them deliberately blown. When the maggots are a good size, they keep them soft in bran until they can be used as bait.

Maggots, although they are horrid creatures, also have another use: As a child I read that they saved a badly injured man's life by eating the gangrenous flesh.

When we lived on a remote island in Papua New Guinea, we often had to remove maggots from small spear-wounds on the cows. The small school-boys would borrow a file 'to sharpen their bush-knife' and use it to get some wire from the cow-yard fence to make the spear and then practice on patches of colour on the cows - until we woke up to what they were doing! Once we had a sick calf in the cow-yard. It had a bad gash and I hoped that the maggots (that also got into our wounds and tropical ulcers if we didn't keep them covered) would clean the wound. I had, as one of my 'useless treasures' a teat for a kid (baby goat), so tried to feed the calf a mix of boiled water and powdered milk, including crushed out-of-date penicillin tablets from the hospital. He was so beautiful and pathetic, but gradually got worse, so eventually we had to put him out of his misery, which was really sad.

A butterfly made with quilling
A butterfly made with quilling | Source

Weevils

Weevils are another of these insect creatures. Those that are called granary weevils are probably the most prevalent. As their name suggests, they love grain, especially wheat. They are very tiny and in the adult stage turn into small beetles. They just love cereal for breakfast!

When I was small, during World War II, Mother often found weevils in the flour, as she preferred wholemeal flour and so did the weevils. Sometimes I had to help sift the flour and remove the weevils before the bread or scones were made.

I hated these creatures, which didn't help when we took our two small daughters and went to live in Papua New Guinea. If we were lucky, about every six weeks a boat brought our orders from a store in the 'big smoke', a small island called Samarai. We sent our orders on the radio using a special crystal, different from those used to contact other outstations, ships or for reporting the weather to Port Moresby. In case the boat was held up, we kept plenty in the store cupboard. I purchased many things by the case, including boxes of cereal called Vitabrits. After a few weeks, even if I stored the cereal in drums, when I lifted each Vitabrit from the packet, tiny webs hung down with weevils swinging merrily on the ends. So, although it was tropics, the big range was lit early each morning, the cereal was placed in the oven and the weevils cooked. We joked that it was all the more protein!

How I appreciate all the 'mod cons' of the city!

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    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Glad you do! We-e-ell, some of them. Some are far too yucky to love - like the kind that got into a son-in-law biologist and came out through his eyes!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      And yet I love these little bugs!

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Jackie Lynnley: I am blessed and so grateful, and I'm sure that you have been, too. Thank you for your comments - and I agree about maggots, they're gross, but even they do have their uses, sometimes! There are different sizes of maggots and it seems to depend on the type of fly. If we didn't keep wounds covered when we lived in PNG then they could get blown by very small flies - yuk! The remedy was dabbing them with methylated spirits, and that can be quite painful.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I envy you your life Blossom; you have been blessed. Great article and very interesting. I am a tom boy so none of this grosses me out though maggots are maybe on the bottom of my interest list, lol. I have seen documentaries where they use maggots to eat away infection....

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      rebeccamealey: They do, even when we don't like it much. Bless you.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What a wonderful way to think about insects. I suppose everything in the Universe has a purpose. thanks for reminding us!

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      mizjo: Eeek! I'm glad we don't have that kind of blue bottle here.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Sure enough, those blue bottles laid their eggs in the salt! Go figure!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      mizjo: Yuck! I can't imagine why a salt-shaker should attract maggots, it can kill some nasty creatures. Earthworms are different as they are really useful creatures and help to keep the soil fresh. Yes, we have lots of weird bugs in Australia, but some are helpful and others are beautiful, too, and can be quite fascinating.

      Thank you for your comments on my butterflies. I drew them from a book so I could embroider them. Thank you, too, for your lovely comments.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Oh, those butterflies in your embroidery are beautiful. They dd not upload last night so I could not see them but this morning, there they are, nearly as perfect as God made them.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      I left a salt shaker on the table over a weekend when we left to visit friends in Perth, WA. We lived in Broomhill, in the country. When we returned the table was covered in fat wriggly maggots. I was so nauseated. I swept everything into a few pages of newspaper, took it out into the pebbly yard at the back of the farmhouse and burned the lot.

      I can't stand any wriggly things, but the most disgusting is the fly maggot. As a gardener I have to accept the earthworm but can't bring myself to touch one - so I wear gloves in the garden.

      I know about grain weevils too! Ugh!

      Do you think I should love all of God's creatures? I hope not.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      AudreyHowitt: Yes, they are. And horrible, too. When we lived in the tropics they were always in our breakfast cereal and I had to put it in the oven to kill them as there were too many to remove. Extra protein!!

      Debby Bruck: Bless you. Yes, there are so many insects in the world, some are useful, but others are just plain pesky.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Dear Blossom - What a life full of maggots, weevils, grubs and caterpillar stories. They seem to rule the world and do have their purposeful function, so long as they don't eat up all our stored food. Blessings, Debby

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      So it sounds as though the tiny insects sometimes found in rice are weevils??

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Lipnancy: Thank you for the 'follow' and for your comments. These creatures are beautiful in their own way and so interesting.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      What an awesome hub. You were able to take the yuckiest creatures and bring them to life, even beauty.

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      What a cool hub, such a lovely poem! Love the pictures, especially that smart caterpillar LOL I had to look closer just to spot the bugger! =) Beautiful work with cross stitching, you have a lot of patience, it's just awesome!

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rolly A Chabot: Thanks for the hugs. As we go into autumn and the bugs hopefully become fewer, you're probably about to be inundated with lots of creepy-crawlies. Have fun!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Blossom,,, thank you for sharing this with us... Great wisdom and research as always...

      Hugs from Canada

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      You're right, they are unusual, but in the parks there are interesting models of all sorts of unexpected creatures, including imaginary, so they may be educational or just pure fun. They sometimes do the same things using plants on frames - very creative!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      stars 439: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I agree, those wasps are horrid, especially the introduced European ones. When I was teaching small children we had to watch that they did not drink directly from a can as a wasp might sting their tongue which could swell and cause death. Our local wasps are no problem and I love the interesting clay moulds they make; lovely shapes and so neat. Bless you.

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      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      Blossom, Thank you for this very informative hub! I like your cross stitch projects :)

      The photo "Huge model of a beetle in a park in Taipei"...scary creature...lol! Interesting that Taipei would have that on display, but unique and out of the ordinary.

      I voted this up!

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you for a very informative hub. These insects. I like fall weather more than summer because it seems to control wasps pretty well. God Bless You Precious heart. Wonderful hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      cherriquinn: Thank you! It's good to have a smile, we often take ourselves too seriously.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Audrey Howitt: Well! Some I like and some I try to avoid, especially some kinds of spiders, but then I didn't write about spiders, did I? I'm glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      tobusiness: Some more than others is right! Some creatures are just horrid. I've never tried witchetty grubs, but I believe they're really nice. Thanks for the vote.

    • cherriquinn profile image

      cherriquinn 5 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

      What a fascinating hub! really enjoyed it, it made me smile.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      People either love bugs or they hate them--I am fascinated by them and how they interact with their environment-Thank you so much for this informative hub!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      For me, all the little creepy crawlies were soooo gross, but as a gardener I've come to appreciate all nature's wonders, some more than others I have to say.

      I still could not eat a witchetty grubs. great huh voting up

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      froggyfish: So glad you enjoyed it. It's interesting that creatures that seem so abhorrent to us can have such a useful purpose. Thank you.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      You're so right. Often we think it's the right thing to do to destroy the bad pests only to discover that we've also done away with the good ones - and this includes the birds that work so hard to rid us of the creepy crawlies.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rina Pinto: Thank you. It was a busy time, but wonderful and blessed.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

      What an interesting, different topic, hub! Enjoyed your info about the varied bugs...and the maggots have indeed been used medically for hundreds of years! Great hub!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Blossom, very interesting hub, right here at spring, when the creepy crawlies are all coming out! Love your cross-stitch too!!! Amen to that. You are such a gifted writer. Last year I learned before I sprayed my yard for insects and the like, that there are good ones and bad ones, and the good ones, need the bad ones, etc. Ha. How interesting is His creation. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Rina Pinto profile image

      Rina Pinto 5 years ago from Dubai - UAE

      Blessed Assurance & Peace of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ for ever be upon you and your entire family - Happy Easter!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: If you have those beetles around your way, I'm sorry for you, although I guess you have screen doors and windows these days, so they don't get into the house very often. They are yucky, but very interesting - at a distance!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      writer20: You're right! It was just like armour, and as I wrote before, I found them really scary as they hissed at me.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      flashmakeit: It's certainly big as an exhibition in those gardens, but for me they were far too big anyway. We always put the pressure lantern in a dish of water while we were having our evening meal if the electric light wasn't working and lots of flying things got drowned. The worst was what I think that model was, a rhinoceros beetle. If I tried to shoo it away, it stood up at me and hissed!

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      mollymeadows: I'm just glad I can live where I do now, although I wouldn't have missed those experiences for any thing - now! Perhaps not then.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      ImKarn23: I know! They're yukky, but so fascinating at the same time.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      always exploring: I'm glad, too, but I do find there is so much beauty in God's creation.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Vellur: Yes, it sounds as if you speak from experience. There are many happy memories from places visited or lived in.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Frank Atanacio: Thank you, friend!

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rina Pinto: in the beautiful Emirate City of Dubai, thank you for your lovely comments. God knows us better than we know ourselves. I hope you have a holy and blessed Easter.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am quite amazed at the strength of these tiny creatures. I have seen the beetle before around here. They do look a little threatening. Thanks for the education on these bugs.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      I saw your title and thought delete I'm not interested in darn maggots and things alike. I couldn't stop myself opening your hub and read about the grubby things. That large beetle looks like he's wearing armour. Yuck.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 5 years ago from usa

      Gee that is a large beetle in that photograph. How big is that beetle in size? I watched a video on YouTube about the Witchetty Grubs and some people cook and uses them for fish bait.

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      EEE-yuuckkk,Blossom! Mad respect for your sand, though -- you're a strong lady. Grubs, maggots and weevils, oh my!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      Ewwww..i'm sorry, but, that beetle thingie is just WRONG? This entire hub gave me the eebie jeebies - and yet - strangely - i learned so much! lol..probably won't be back too soon for another lesson, tho! voting up cause i love the concept of the ugly duckling..or..weevil..sigh..

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I am so glad we have modern conveniences today. Your hub is interesting. Thank you for sharing stories of the different places you've lived..Cheers

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Interesting and informative. Travelling to different places have their own memories and experiences. Voted up.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      blossom this was crazy good what a brilliant idea for a hub too :)

    • Rina Pinto profile image

      Rina Pinto 5 years ago from Dubai - UAE

      The ugliest of insects are a beauty when full grown! How beautiful to look at it and appreciate its beauty. The same goes for human race! One of the person in the Holy Bible is Mosses! He was a murderer but yet God chose him to lead His People Israel to the promise Land ..! God knows His creations and moulds them into a beautiful vessel for His court! He is the Potter & we are the clay in His Almighty Hands.. God Bless you my Lovely Lady for sharing this beautiful Hub .. Love & Hugs all the way from Dubai the beautiful Emirate City in United Arabs Emirates (UAE)