Today we will investigate an organism that a reader discovered in his kitchen and dining area. He explained that these creatures seem to drop from the ceiling, but he only sees them after they drop. He said they are about a centimeter long with black and white stripes. They have legs and their head and tail ends are orange. What are these mysterious creatures?
We are confident that this is a caterpillar (caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies). We even think we know which type of caterpillar this is, but we want to explain the hint of uncertainty we feel. Caterpillars can be tricky to identify because two creatures of the same species might look completely different, while two creatures of two distinct species might look practically identical. So, while we think we know what species of caterpillar this is, we cannot be 100% certain because there is likely another species of caterpillar that has very similar markings as this one. That being said, we believe this is a sunflower moth larvae.
Sunflower moth larvae, or Homoeosoma electellum larvae, belong to the Pyralidae family. These moths and butterflies are native to North America, but are also found in South America. The larvae primarily feed on sunflowers and the canola plant (rapeseed), but they have also been recorded eating cotton and orange plants.
We don’t know why these caterpillars are entering our reader’s home and falling from his ceiling. Our best guess is that they are ready to pupate, and are doing so on his ceiling. We recommend he focus on closing up any unsealed windows, doors, or cracks that these caterpillars could be sneaking in through. In the meantime, our reader can gently pick up these larvae and place them outside.
To wrap up, a reader noticed some striped larvae falling from his ceiling. We believe these are sunflower moth larvae.