A couple of days ago a reader sent us an amazing picture of a yellow caterpillar with black eyes. (These “eyes” are in fact eyespots, which serve no optical function, but more on this in a moment.) She had found a couple of the yellow caterpillars on her back porch and was wondering if we might be able to help with the task of identification. Although caterpillars can be extremely difficult to identify because of the sheer number of different species, we are reasonably confident our reader found a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar, one of the hundreds of species of Swallowtail caterpillars.
We received a video through the All About Worms Facebook page the other day of what appears to be a tiny worm on a roll of toilet paper. (The tiny worm is likely a tiny larvae, but more on that below.) The reader was quite alarmed by what he found, and mentioned (presumably, and hopefully, in jest) that he is “tempted to burn his house down” immediately because of what he found. For practical, legal, and moral reasons, we don’t recommend this course of action, and in fact we don’t think he should be concerned at all. He appears to have found a very small inchworm, the larval form of a geometer moth, for reasons we outline below.
A reader wrote to us a couple of days ago about some worms or larvae in an ice machine at work. The reader speculated the creatures in the ice machine might be maggots, which are the larvae of flies, but she acknowledged they could be regular worms too. The worms or larvae are coming from the supply line, and thus the reader questioned the efficacy of the suggested remedy for the problem: pouring bleach down the drain of the ice machine. However, the reader was primarily concerned with identifying the creatures in the ice machine, so we will focus on this question and not so much on the matter of getting rid of them (although this will be touched on as well).
We recently received a message from a reader via the All About Worms Facebook page about some very small white worms he has been finding in his bed. (He actually sent us 12 messages about the extremely small white worms, leading us to think he is sending messages via the Facebook chat window, a default option that can be changed, for what it is worth.) The worms stand up vertically and look like the “those caterpillar[s] you see every year by the thousands that come out of the trees here in Tennessee,” by which he might mean they look like inchworms, the larval form of geometer moths. In all the messages he sent, which included a number of pictures, he never actually asked us to identify the small white worms in the bed. Rather, he was primarily concerned with his and his family’s safely. He feared that the worms might burrow into their skin. So, our principal task is to address whether these exceedingly small white worms are harmful or dangerous, but we will also add a couple of notes about identification as we go along.
A few days ago we received a question through the All About Worms Facebook page from a reader whose dog had recently eaten several grubs, or beetle larvae. (“Grub” is a generic term that could theoretically refer to any of the hundreds of thousands of species of beetle larva, but it is often used by people to refer to the fat, white larvae on their lawns – “lawn grubs” – in particular.) The reader was made aware of her dog’s recent dietary choices after she (the dog) threw up grubs all over her back porch. (What is more disgusting than vomit? Larvae-filled vomit.) Not surprisingly, the reader was wondering if it is harmful or dangerous for dogs to eat grubs, which we now turn our attention to.