One of our readers reached out about a worm-like organism that is “about an inch long, has a black head, light reddish brown body with a pale stomach, and black specks all over its body.” She found three in her bedroom, two on the ceiling in different spots, and one on her window curtain. She does have dogs, so thinks they could be related to the dogs, but she gives her dogs baths once every week. She also washes her bedding and the dogs’ bedding once a week. The description she provided of the specimen matches up well with the photograph she sent:
This looks a lot like a Diatraea grandiosella, commonly known as a southwestern corn borer. These caterpillars primarily eat corn and are therefore considered pests by farmers. Southwestern corn borers, or SWCB for short, are primarily found in the southern United States and Mexico. Although the specimen our reader found does closely resemble a southwestern corn borer, we aren’t completely convinced this is what she is dealing with. First, we don’t know where geographically she is writing from. If she is from the southern United States or Mexico, then this could definitely be the correct identification. However, if she is writing from somewhere else, then this probably isn’t a match. Also, SWCB aren’t often found in houses. If our reader had only found one of these creatures in her home then we would assume that it had just wandered in, but she found three total! Of course, this doesn’t mean that the creatures aren’t southwestern corn borers, we just don’t know why they would be in our reader’s home. She did say she has dogs, so the dogs could have brought the larvae into her home, but this is quite a stretch and not something we can verify.
No matter the identity of the organisms, getting rid of any creatures in a home almost always depends on cleaning. Our reader should dust, sweep, and vacuum her home to eliminate any small particles that might be serving as a food source to these creatures. She should continue to do laundry often to get rid of any unseen eggs. Finally, she can check all of her windows, doors, and vents to make sure they are properly sealed and not providing secret entryways for these specimens. We hope our reader is able to get rid of these larvae!
In conclusion, one of our readers found some black-spotted larvae in her home. These specimens look just like southwestern corn borers, but since these aren’t typically household pests, we aren’t completely convinced that this is what our reader is dealing with. We recommend our reader thoroughly clean the areas where these specimens were found.