Me and My Pet Maggots


The nice people at my publisher, Algonquin Books, did an adorable thing in which they adopted some pet snails, named Snooki and The Situation, and kept them in a little aquarium in the office so they could enjoy a little snail wildlife while they went about their publisher duties.  They were inspired to do this by a charming little memoir they've published called The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating.  (More about that book soon–they've promised we can give one away.)

So next year my new book, Wicked Bugs, will come out, and naturally I expect no less of them.  They will be expected to set up a tank and explore the unexpected charms of some unlikely, often unloved, and somewhat slimy little creature, and to blog about it and otherwise make a fuss over it.

I speak, of course, of maggots.

I've recently made an ambitious and rather idiotic foray into citrus trees (more about that someday soon, too), and in the process of potting up one of my new trees, I discovered these creatures crawling in the potting soil the trees came in.


So far I have not been able to identify them, although you are welcome to try.  Maggots are nothing but baby flies, and while they might not be adorable to you and I, I'm sure their mothers find them charming. They are also hard to identify by species until they get a little larger, which makes it hard to know whether this is a serious citrus pest or just an interesting little footnote in the magnificent story of the life of the soil. (And they may not be baby diptera at all–they could be the larvae of any number of insects besides flies.)

But to be on the safe side, I've repotted the plants in clean, bagged potting soil.  I've also taken the advice of several entomologist friends and saved a few of the maggots so that I can hatch them out and see what I've got. Shouldn't take long, I'm told.

So here they are:  my pet maggots, sitting on my desk in a jar covered in cheesecloth so they can breathe but not escape:



So what do you say, Algonquin?  Pet maggots in the office? Is it gonna happen?


  1. I support keeping maggots as pets.

    I LOVE insects. The Entomology class I took as an undergrad was one of my favorite courses. Weevils are my favorite. They’re completely adorable, and I would love a herd (flock? school? murder?) of them as pets.

    How will you choose the ones to feature in the book? There are so many lovely options…

  2. I once put on my garden gloves and there were little maggots in the fingers. I couldn’t figure out what it was at first and then–EEEK AIEEE. So, so repulsive.

    As pets, in a jar, not in my gloves … OK.

  3. I’m inspired now ! Have been trying to teach my children & their classmates not to scream when they see insects (beetles, flies, bees, etc). Perhaps if I had some maggots or other “bug babies” to keep as pets on the windowsill of each classroom they’d see them for the amazing creatures they are.

    Hmmmm …

  4. I’m on pins and needles to see what these turn out to be! They look like any number of things I’ve seen in the soil. Are those incipient stingers on the ends?

    Looking forward to your citrus post–I live north of you, and am constantly plotting how I can grow Meyer lemons without investing in a heated greenhouse….

  5. I LOVED entomology class just like Jacqueline, but I still don’t love maggots… you CAN try and identify them in the maggot stage. It involved peering at their anus with a magnifying glass and counting the number of hairs around it. I didn’t love that part of ent. class so much…

  6. This a jar of of complete and total awesomeness. You have now inspired to keep as desk pets the ticks that come back to the office with me after a visit to the field. Sweet.

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