Millipede in Garden

Red Worms on the Bathroom Floor

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A concerned reader wrote to us a while back about some red worms on her bathroom floor. (Technically, the worms in the bathroom are “reddish-brown,” to use the reader’s exact phrase.) She has found the worms twice now, causing her some concern because she has never seen the creatures before in the 12 years she has lived in her house. The worms have a “snail head,” and the reader didn’t notice any legs. Naturally, the reader was curious about what she was finding, and so the question before us is this: what are the red worms in her bathroom?

First, as the reader indirectly acknowledges by her use of the phrase “wormlike creature,” she might not be dealing with a worm. Unfortunately, however, it is not clear that she isn’t dealing with a worm either. As we read our reader’s question, we were pulled back and forth when formulating initial impressions. Did she find a worm, or is it a millipede? Might it be something else entirely? Unfortunately, our settled thoughts are not much more certain, as the conflicting facts remain, and the reader did not supply any picture. (Both times she found the creature, she flushed it down the toilet.)

When we started reading our reader’s email, which began with the declaration that a “wormlike creature” had been found twice, we thought she might have simply found a worm. Indeed, since she described the creature as “reddish-brown,” we thought she even might have found the most classic worm of all – a simple earthworm. She described the worm as about two to three inches long and skinny, which is perfectly consistent with many species of earthworm (e.g., red wigglers). Perhaps because people are so accustomed to seeing them outside in the yard or garden (and because they see different creatures inside), it strikes many as bizarre that an earthworm can make its way into the house. However, this can certainly happen, as when an earthworm makes its way into the bathroom through a pipe (like the one connected to the slab beneath the shower) under the floor.

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This seemed like a reasonable guess, but then we read on and learned that the creature had a “snail head.” We aren’t sure what this means, but one thought is that the creature our reader found has antennae. (Snails don’t actually have antennae. The longer projections on their heads are technically tentacles with light-sensitive tips – essentially snail eyes – but they look like antennae.) Immediately after the “snail head” part, the reader said that the creature thrashed around quite a bit. These two facts led us to believe that our reader found a millipede, a common house pest with antennae that very well might thrash around when disturbed. However, the reader goes on to say the creature doesn’t appear to have legs, and of course millipedes have many legs.

So, what are we to conclude? What is the “wormlike creature” in our reader’s bathroom? We can’t be sure, but we are leaning toward the millipede hypothesis. The reader didn’t definitively rule out legs – she said she “can’t tell […] if they had legs; but if they did, they were very tiny” – which leads us to think that maybe she did find a millipede. Millipede legs are quite small, and they don’t protrude from underneath their bodies, so they can be difficult to see. And given the reader’s description of the “snail head” of the creature (which we took as “possessing antennae”), we can’t imagine she saw an earthworm, which is the only possibility that comes to mind when we imagine a skinny, reddish-brown, two-to-three inch creature on the bathroom floor. So, we’ll stick with millipede, but we are far from certain this is the correct.

4 Comments

  1. karen

    This is so funny because I’m watching one right now in my bathroom & he or she is actually very cute up close! It’s reddish brown with alot of tiny little legs, 2 little black dots for eyes & small antennas on each side. It will raise its head as if it’s looking around checking out the scenery, then kinda curl up! This is wild!

  2. karen

    This is so funny because I’m watching one right now in my bathroom & he or she is actually very cute up close! It’s reddish brown with alot of tiny little legs, 2 little black dots for eyes & small antennas on each side. It will raise its head as if it’s looking around checking out the scenery, then kinda curl up! This is wild!

  3. Lee Bruno

    I found something similar and am sure it is a millipede. The “legs” are tiny and I can only see them under a magnifying glass. Otherwise it matches the characteristics of the worms in pics on tile floor and in the person’s hand. Mine was found on the bedroom ceiling, but nor far from a window that I have had open during warm spring days. Have seen no others, but may do a closer examination around the window.

    thanks for the help

  4. i tink i saw

    A google search that I did lead me to this page. i sometimes find a red worm that debates a lot when I pour soapy water in it and whose head behave like a snail antenna when it is buried (like, when it is in some hole and only it’s head is outside. and I make any movement nearby it pulls it back like a snail antenna). wouldn’t that be it?

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