“Can you please help identify this worm?” asks this reader in his submission regarding the black and brown larva-like organism pictured below. “I found these all over our barn in Shingle Springs California. Thank you!”
Firstly, we want to thank our reader for the excellent pictures he sent in: it really helps us track down the creature and figure out what it might be.
Secondly, to answer his question, we think this is definitely some type of caterpillar, though what exact species we are not sure. It resembles a Southern armyworm to some extent, but they also resemble black cutworms to a larger extent. Regardless, it is strange for either species to infest a barn, as their preferred diet is plants.
We also considered the possibility that they were some type of wood-boring caterpillar, as that would better explain their take over of this barn, but not only do they not really resemble any of the common wood-boring caterpillars (or beetle larvae for that matter), but our reader also did not mention that they were found in the wood, so we cannot make that assumption.
With all of that said, our best guess is that these caterpillars ended up in the barn simply because the mother moth flew in and decided to lay her eggs there, probably because it seemed safe. For that reason, we do not think our reader has much to worry about. It will probably suffice to move the caterpillars outside.
Naturally, since we are not sure what species of caterpillars these are, we advise caution when handling them: some species of caterpillars can cause allergic reactions upon contact, and some can bite/sting as well. As such, we suggest scooping them up onto a dustpan when moving them in order to avoid skin-to-skin contact.
In conclusion, we think that the black worms our reader found are some type of caterpillar. They might be cutworms or armyworms, but in any case, we do not think he has too much to worry about. Of course, if he finds a lot more roaming caterpillars after he moves these outside, then it might be best to contact a professional to deal with them. We hope this article proves helpful, and we wish our reader the very best!
All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.