This is a cautionary tale for nature lovers and acorn collectors…
One dull winter evening, as my husband and I were getting our three-year old and one-year old ready for bed, my husband called my name with a sense of dread. I was trying to dress my wriggly infant after bath time and I knew by the tone of husband’s voice something was terribly wrong. I kept shouting “What!” from my baby’s room when my husband emerged (after what seemed like a decade) pale-faced and with his fist clenched. He opened his hand to reveal what he found in my three-year old’s room – bugs.
I may be a macro insect and spider photographer, but I’m not trained in entomology and my insect identification skills are admittedly lacking. We both panicked. Could these be maggots? Could they be moth larvae? Indian meal worms? Clothes moths?
We scoured my son’s room for additional bugs and found a total of four. We found the four small, white grubs in the same location between the carpet and baseboards. We secured them in a small plastic food storage container and put our boys to bed – my husband reading to our toddler and me singing our infant to sleep in separate rooms.
As soon as our baby dozed in my arms, I began frantically searching the web for identification leads. The more I searched, the more I panicked, thinking we’d have to spend the following day tearing closets and cabinets apart looking for additional bugs. I was sick to my stomach. I texted my husband in the next room over to let him know I thought the bugs looked like beetle larvae, not moth larvae, but neither of us were convinced… until…
More info: Facebook
The four small, white grubs we found in my son’s room
As soon as I got my son snug in his crib, I took some photos of the bugs and posted them in an entomology group on Facebook. Within minutes, I started getting identification tips. The first person suggested the bugs were maggots and said we should clean my son’s room, suggesting we were slobs. The next comments were more helpful. People said they looked like weevil larvae and asked if we had plants in the house. While we have two lowly houseplants, they live on our first floor, no where near my son’s room.
People started asking if we keep houseplants or nuts/seeds in the house
I started searching the web for photos of weevil larvae and clicked on the first photo that closely resembled our grubs… Acorn weevils.
Things started to click in my brain. I vaguely remembered collecting a single acorn a few months earlier and giving it to my son. I thought to myself, “Where did that acorn end up?”
Then it dawned on me… I remembered we placed the acorn on my son’s bookcase.
Acorn on my son’s bookcase
I tiptoed into my toddler’s room as he soundly slept. I fumbled in the dark to find the acorn sitting inconspicuously on the shelf. I turned on my phone’s flashlight and, upon turning the nut over, noticed two small holes and a small pile of frass. Acorn weevils!
Through Facebook, we identified the culprits
I snapped a quick photo of the holey acorn and posted it on Facebook. I then put the acorn in the plastic container with the grubs. People thought the turn of events was hilarious.
Our new pets
People suggested we create a nice little home for the grubs to pupate and wait to see if they emerge in the spring.
Cozy home for our new acorn weevils
So that’s exactly what I did! We love bugs and I love teaching my sons about nature so I thought this would be the perfect little project!
Grubs in the new mason jar home
I collected some soil from under my oak tree and created a little home in a small mason jar. I used fabric to cover the jar so the insects can get fresh air and placed the jar in my unheated garage for the winter. Since the grubs pupate in the cool soil outdoors, I wanted to keep their new home as close to nature as possible.
The grubs soon began to bury themselves in the soil
Within just a few minutes, the larvae buried themselves in the soil, where they will spend one (or possibly two) seasons before they emerge as adults.
People loved reading the crazy Facebook thread
In the end, I posted photos of the grubs’ new home on the Facebook thread and people loved it. After all, it’s a group of entomologists so I expected no less!
I hope to continue the story of the weevils this spring when they (hopefully) emerge as beautiful adults.
If you make a habit of collecting acorns and bringing them indoors, keep them contained or you may end up with your own little insect pets!
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