ELI5: How do maggots get into the fridge if food has been left there too long with the power off?

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

Not to gross you out, but the eggs are already in the food. It’s really no different than a little bit of protein from regular chicken eggs. But food isn’t typically “sterile”. Like those potatoes and carrots in the fridge? They used to be in dirt. For most things, as long as you don’t eat too much, you’ll be fine and your stomach acid and intestines just take it in stride. But this is one of the reasons you don’t want to eat raw flour. Milling it into flour doesn’t kill bacteria.


Leave fruit in a sealed container. Watch it rot into a nest of fruit flies. The eggs are already on the food. Normally, it doesn’t matter, your digestive system destroys them and/or consumes them and/or excretes them, so it’s really not that big a deal. But if you let them grow, that’s what happens. Everything you eat, no matter how sterile you think it is or what food standards it conforms to, has had an insect of some kind land on it at some point in its life, and if it laid eggs, those eggs wait for the ideal conditions before they hatch. Fortunately, those ideal conditions are normally long after a human would ever touch that food, when it rots. Unless your food was produced in an entirely insect-free laboratory-sterile environment (something that we’ve found almost impossible to do on Earth… even the “simulate Mars” or “attempt to leave in a bubble” experiments are often contaminated by living insects getting in), it’s going to have something on it, whether that’s bacteria, mould, eggs, parasites, or whatever else. And, to be honest, trying to grow food in such a perfectly sterile environment is not only incredibly expensive such that you’d never try to do it, but also not conducive at all to growing produce – those insects, bacteria and moulds are a vital part of the process. It’s one of the biggest problems in space travel: You can say what you want about propulsion, building cities on other planets, powering them from the sun, etc. but the fact is that no human has survived even a day solely on food that has been grown in space (only by sending food to space from Earth). Because it’s almost impossible to grow sufficient quantities due to the expense, very difficult to make them grow well because of the sterility, and propagating food forever more needs enriched soils, nutrients and the same moulds, bacteria and insects.


Others have answered. They are already on / in the food. We had an issue years ago at home where some cereal we bought had moth eggs in it and when we opened the plastic packaging we could see the eggs and baby moths moving about. Out of disgust and stupidly we left the bag open to take pics for a complaint when our cat knocked it off the counter and the content went everywhere. We then had to clean up cereal, egg dust, and moth larvae off the floor. We obviously didn’t get everything as we had an issue with moths in the house for a while afterwords. In short always keep your food in air tight containers if possible.


If you get maggots in the food they were already there. More exactly the eggs that they came from were already there. Maggots are the larva of flies, another insect also lay eggs that become larva that might look similar but they are long maggots. The eggs might be there when you purchased the food but they can also get to the food in your house. A fly can lay hundreds of eggs at once. It can also be that there is insects in the fridge that lay the eggs after you close it for the last time.


Most/all fridges have a drain so condensed water can escape. If you have a fridge full of rotting food all types of bugs will follow that scent.