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There are very frequent reports coming in of so called “pasta animals” or “contamination” of pasta but also many other baked goods that have moths or “worms”. This is clearly a rather unfortunate phenomenon, which causes a lot of concern and which makes contaminated food completely unusable. But what do these verses depend on? The worms found in pasta derive from the eggs laid by cereal parasitic insects and which, under favorable conditions, develop, transforming first into larvae (the so-called “worms”) and then into an insect. adult (i.e. butterflies).

Among these most common parasites is the Tenebrio molitor: a small beetle whose females are capable of laying up to 600 eggs which can complete their development in just a few weeks. This insect is undoubtedly harmless and as proof, the fact that the European Union has registered it as a “novel food”, that is to say a new consumable food. What we see as butterflies, however, are small moths also called “moths” of flour or “moths” whose eggs are grouped together in the form of cobwebs which undergo a metamorphosis from larval stage to an adult insect. But we also remember the “punch” of pasta.

It is a small weevil of about 2-3 mm which, despite its elytra, is completely flightless and its development is even similar to that of other insects. “Contaminating” insects are easily found inside granaries, silos and vehicles that transport grain, places where they lay their eggs. During subsequent transformations, such as grinding which takes place at room temperature, the eggs are able to remain alive, so it is possible to find them in flours; their presence can only and exclusively be discovered by carrying out precise microscopic examinations.

It may also be possible to eliminate them completely through the use of insecticidal substances, but clearly the danger far outweighs the benefits that can be obtained. Before consumption, cereals and flours are generally subjected to cooking treatments that exceed 100°C, the temperature at which the eggs are destroyed and there is no possibility of them developing into larvae or insects. However, the situation is different in the case of the production of pasta since the temperature reached during its transformation very rarely exceeds 75°C. Under these conditions, however, there is a small chance that some eggs will survive.

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