“I saw you have an article about the little black worms/caterpillars with long thread silk and I have a video of what I think is the same thing”, writes Alicia regarding the minuscule, black organism pictured below. “Could you please tell me how to get rid of them and what they are? I am in Perth.” We are not sure what article Alicia refers to, but regardless, we have identified this as an inchworm. The video gives it away: inchworms have a unique way of moving around which is a product of their anatomy. Inchworms have prolegs and rear legs, but not legs in the middle of their body. For that reason, the middle of their back arches as they ‘inch’ forward. They will also typically lift their entire front body (like in the video) and swivel it around as they try to redirect themselves.
Besides that unique trait, there is not one way to describe inchworms, and that is because inchworms are not a species of worm, or just one species of anything! The term ‘inchworm’ actually refers to a whole group of moth caterpillar species, all of which possess the aforementioned anatomy, and which spin silk, like Alicia suggests. Inchworms use this silk when they eventually spin their cocoons, in which they undergo metamorphosis to transform into a fully-grown moth. However, they also use this silk to get away from predators. Like many other species of caterpillars, they are able to produce this silk in the blink of an eye, and will use it as a type of grappling hook, swinging down from a tall place in a moment’s notice if they encounter danger.
Inchworms are not dangerous to humans or pets whatsoever. They do not bite or sting, and they do not carry venom or disease. Of course, like many caterpillars, allergic reactions can possibly occur upon physical contact, which is why we always suggest wearing gloves if someone wants to pick up a caterpillar. In any case, Alicia is good to just scoop this inchworm (and whichever other ones she finds) onto a dustpan and move it outside. And that is the best way to get rid of them if she is indeed finding multiple. Inchworms prefer eating plants found outside, and have no real interest in infesting a home.
To conclude, Alicia has caught herself an inchworm (or several!). They are nothing to be feared, which we bet is a relief to Alicia. We hope this helps and we wish her the very best!
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