We recently heard from a reader who found some worm-like organisms in her kitchen. She explained that she has searched her pantry and grainy food and found nothing. The creatures seem to love plastic and some of them hang from what she thinks might be silk. She wants to know what these creatures are.
Usually when we hear from a reader about organisms in the kitchen, we believe they are dealing with pantry fly larvae, also known as Indian meal moth larvae. These larvae infest stored grains and leave a weblike substance as evidence on the food that they infest. However, we don’t think our reader is dealing with Indian meal moth larvae. In addition to the photograph shown above, our reader shared a video with us that captured the specimens moving. We instantly recognized the movement pattern and know what our reader has found. We believe the organisms in her kitchen are inchworms!
Inchworms are the larvae of Geometer moths, which means they are caterpillars. There are about 35,000 species of inchworms around the world, and about 1,400 in North America. Inchworms eat a variety of foliage, and their specific food choice is determined by their species. Some common food sources for inchworms include apple, mulberry, blueberry, pine, fir trees and shrubs.
Since there aren’t any obvious food sources for inchworms in our reader’s kitchen, we can’t say why they are gathering there. We think our reader should dust and sweep to get rid of any potential food sources, and then focus on closing off the entry point they are sneaking in from. This could be an open door or window that hasn’t been properly sealed.
To summarize, one of our readers discovered several inchworms in her kitchen. While the presence of any unwanted creature in a home can be less than ideal, these caterpillars are harmless.