One of our readers just wrote to us from Arizona. He found a small worm-like organism on the floor of his second story apartment. The specimen was near a window that sits at carpet level. He is curious as to what it is and how it got inside. Also, he wants to know if he should call an exterminator. Here is the photo he sent us:
We will start with our reader’s first question: What is this organism? We believe this reddish-pink colored specimen is a palm flower moth larva. These caterpillars are found in Arizona (where our reader is), Nevada, and parts of California. They eat the blossoms of palm fans and live in palm trees. Once the caterpillars are ready to mature, they crawl into the bark of the palm trees to pupate. If they get knocked out of the trees, they may look for a place to pupate inside a home.
This information leads us to the next question: How did the caterpillar get inside? We think it probably got displaced from its home in a palm tree and traveled into our reader’s home in search of a safe place to pupate. It probably crawled in through an open window. Once inside, these larvae sometimes chew carpets or upholstery to create a pupal chamber for themselves. This might be precisely what the palm flower moth larva is doing in our reader’s apartment.
In conclusion, a reader found a light red larva on the carpet of his apartment. We are confident that the larva is a palm flower moth larva. How should he handle this situation? Well, we don’t think he needs to call an exterminator or take any drastic measures. He should simply place the larva outside (preferably on a palm flower so it can pupate) and then make sure all of his windows and doors are properly sealed to prevent future intrusions.