We recently received this question from a reader, “What kind of caterpillar is this and are they dangerous?” The accompanying photograph shows a tan specimen with brown stripes running down the edges of its body. We count 6 legs, but we think it has more that aren’t visible in the photo. It also has a distinct brown head. Our reader explained that she found several of these creatures on the walls coming out of the air vents, on the trim in her bedroom, and on her ceiling.
We agree with our reader that this is some type of caterpillar, which means it is the larva of a moth or butterfly. Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact type of caterpillar this is. Caterpillars can be tricky to identify since caterpillars of different species can look identical and caterpillars of the same species might look different. Caterpillars without bright coloring or prominent features, like the ones our reader found, can be even harder to identify. On the bright side, we don’t think that knowing the species of caterpillar is crucial to being able to get rid of them.
Based on what our reader has told us, we think there is some crack in her ventilation system that these creatures are sneaking in through. In order to stop them from appearing in her home, she will need to investigate to find these openings and have them properly sealed using a fine mesh screen. She should not use pesticides in the vents to kill these caterpillars because the fumes can spread throughout her home and reduce the air quality in her house. She can consider hiring professional cleaners to clean out the vents, which will eliminate any eggs or larvae still hiding inside. There are a lot of options for how to handle this situation, and our reader can decide which is the best fit for her. Overall we don’t think she should stress too much because although we don’t know the identity of these caterpillars, we don’t believe they are dangerous.
To sum up, a reader found caterpillars coming from her vent and spread throughout her room. We aren’t entirely sure what kind of caterpillars they are, but in order to say goodbye to them she will need to properly seal her vents!