Recent rains in Texas have brought forth one of our many worm-like friends, the cankerworm caterpillar, and they are invading The Lone Star State by the masses. Cankerworm caterpillars are a species of inchworm, and are the larval form of the hackberry leafroller moth. There is a lot to unpack here. First of all, ‘inchworm’ is a name thrown around a lot in reference to worm-like creatures, and the thing is that the term ‘inchworm’ is almost as broad as its application. The term refers to a whole bunch of moth species that are endemic to the North Americas, and it specifically refers to those moth caterpillars that have legs at the front and rear of their bodies, but not in the middle, forcing them to arch their back as they ‘inch’ across a surface. Secondly, a “leafroller caterpillar” is also an umbrella term, and refers to multiple species of caterpillars which roll the leaves they munch on and hide in them when they need shelter. Lastly, and most importantly, is this newsworthy invasion of caterpillars.
“What worm is this?”, asks this reader about the small, black-headed organism pictured below. “I live in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and I just found these little worms all over my fireplace. I’ve never seen them before. Some were inching along but there were also a number of them hanging from the fireplace from very thin threads (so thin I couldn’t see them).” Now, the key phrase here is “inching”, as that describes pretty well the creature we believe our reader is dealing with: an inchworm. Why they are called inchworms is because of the exact motion that our reader describes; they pull their bodies across a surface using legs located at the front and back of their bodies, thus forcing them to arch the middle of their bodies (which does not have any legs) and ‘inch’ forward. Likewise, they are able to generate a silk-like string from which they can quickly eject and hang on to as they jump off a surface, which is a defense mechanism they use to get away from predators.
“What are these?” is all this reader asks about the small, black worm-like organisms pictured below. They appear to have bulbous black heads and prolegs, and are very minuscule in size.
“What is this?” is all this reader asks in her submission. The creature she is referring to appears to be black and gray in color, with a bulbous black head that sits atop a skinny body with two-to-three sets of prolegs.
After finding several organisms that resemble “white shell[s]” hanging over her bed, this reader contacts us in the hope that we can help with this recurring issue. “Sadly”, our reader did not send any pictures, but she hopes nonetheless that we can identify the creatures and give some advice as to how she can ensure they do not reappear.
“What kind of worms are these and how do you get rid of them?” asks this reader about the gray and yellow-patterned creatures in the photographs below. “They are ruining my grandmother’s plum tree,” our reader states.
“You are my last hope or I’m about to call it an alien invasion” says this reader, starting her query off with a bang. This beige, wood-colored worm-like creature “has no legs on the middle part of his body” and as a result “walks quite strange.”
“I found this tiny, skinny little thing on my shorts after coming home from a run,” says this reader, who asks if we can identify the worm-like creature. Although it is difficult to tell from the photograph, which was taken at a distance from the worm, the creature appears to be a dark color (perhaps a black or dark brown), with a thin, elongated body.
“The tiny thread-thin worm taped to the card […] was crawling, inch-worm-like on my bed comforter one night” says this reader, perfectly encapsulating her experience with the worm in the photo below. The “inch-worm-like” creature in the photo is a brownish-red color, is lying on its side in a shape that inchworms do make when they make their way across a surface, and is, from what we can tell, quite small in size.
Inchworms are arguably the first thing that come to mind when we think of caterpillars; that curving arch that these critters make as they ‘inch’ their way across a surface is, dare we say, iconic. This article will take a brief look at inchworms: their characteristics, behaviors and place in the natural world.
One of our readers discovered tiny brown worms hanging from the light shade in his bedroom. We are confident that these are inchworms. They are not dangerous, harmful, or considered to be household pests so we don’t think our reader needs to worry about the presence of these creatures.
A reader sent us photo and a fabulous description of a tiny worm-like organism he found on a wall in his home. We are confident that he is dealing with an inchworm!