Earlier today, we received a question from a mother about a small, brown larvae that was crawling on her daughter. Actually, she didn’t ask a question, but rather exclaimed a couple of things – “Found this crawling on my daughter! Help!” – and sent us a picture of the creature in question. Since she is obviously concerned, we thought we’d answer her right away, addressing what we presume are her concerns, namely, what is the small, brown larvae she found, and is it dangerous or in any way harmful to her daughter.
First, here is the picture, or rather the relevant part of the picture, our reader submitted:
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Obviously, this isn’t a particularly clear photo, but it does show what appears to be some sort of small, brown larvae. Unfortunately, there are lots of unanswered questions about this creature. We know it was found on our reader’s daughter, but where was her daughter when the larvae was found? Was she inside or outside, and was she near anything where the creature might have come from (a water source, a pile of leaves, etc.)? There is obviously a difference between a bedroom and the backyard when it comes to insects, worms, and the like. Also, approximately how large is the creature, and does it have any notable features on its body? Does it have visible legs, and does it appear to have hair? Answers to these questions would obviously be helpful.
In the absence of such information, though, what might she have found? One thing that immediately came to mind is carpet beetle larvae, which we have written about dozens of times. People find them in their houses all the time, and in fact a mother of three children wrote to us about them recently, expressing concern about the brown “worms” under her furniture. Based on the picture above, it is impossible to tell if our reader found carpet beetle larvae, but their shape and color is consistent with this suggestion, as are the ridges on its body. The same can be said of another relatively common pest, black soldier fly larvae, which are used in composting operations and as animal feed.
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If our reader found either creature, she doesn’t have much to worry about. Black soldier fly larvae are not harmful, and for the most part carpet beetle larvae aren’t either. As we explained in any article about getting rid of carpet beetle larvae, their small hairs can cause skin irritation, and they can also damage various fabrics around the house because this is what they eat, but overall they aren’t particularly dangerous creatures that bite or sting. The same can be said of a great deal of beetle, fly, and other insect larvae. This isn’t to say that most larvae are completely innocuous – for one thing, they can be vectors for disease, so you wouldn’t want to be ingesting them, for instance – but a brief encounter with one is not cause for concern.
Of course, though, mothers know best, and we don’t presume to know more about our reader’s situation than she does on the basis of one blurry photo with no accompanying information. If she notices anything worrying about her daughter – like a rash or bites marks – she should go to the doctor to make sure nothing is amiss. We are not a substitute for medical advice for the simple reason that we offer no medical advice at all. However, we can say that if our reader found a little beetle larvae or something similar on her daughter, she shouldn’t have anything to worry about.