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Definition of Chinicuiles

Chinicuiles are a Mexican dish prepared with maguey worms that infest the root of maguey and agave plants before they are harvested for human consumption. They are traditionally harvested in Tlaxcala and Hidalgo. These worms are the same ones that can be found at the bottom of a bottle of mezcal.

ORIGIN OF Chinicuiles

Chinicuiles, or maguey worms (Hypopta agavis), are larvae that attach themselves to the roots of the maguey during the rainy season. Wild agaves decompose and dry out rapidly when infested by these maggots. The larvae take a minimum of four years to begin colonizing these specimens, with which they live in symbiosis until the plant dies.

When the agave begins to take on a yellow color, as opposed to the normal green, the harvesters know that the larvae have begun to infest the roots and a three-month process begins, in which the worms are harvested at the end of August.

As mentioned above, these worms are consumed in dishes. Chinicuiles can only be eaten cooked, never raw. The most popular way to eat the insects is in tacos, with the chinicuiles inside a tortilla with green tomatoes. Each 100 grams of the insects have about 650 calories.


  • Tlachiqueros is the technical term for the people who collect the chinicuiles. They cut down the agave trees and collect the insects.
  • The traditional name for the chinicuiles was meocuilli.
  • The chinicuiles are in danger of disappearing because more and more maguey plants are being removed from the fields in favor of more profitable crops.
  • Chinicuiles are red, fleshy and very nutritious, as they contain large amounts of protein. The flavor is similar to that of pork rinds.