A reader of ours recently sent in a video of a worm she found on her arm after cuddling her dog, and wishes that we identify it. The worm in question appears to be a translucent whitish color, and has a black head that is wider than its body.
In the video (linked below), we can see the worm crawling the length of a white canvas-looking material. Rather than walking forward on tiny feet like a millipede, this creature contracts and expand its body to move forward, similar to an earthworm or caterpillar. In fact, this creature is a caterpillar. Caterpillars are the larval forms of butterflies or moths; this stage precedes what is called the ‘pupal stage’, when caterpillars build their cocoons and then live in them for an extended period of time, during which they undergo metamorphosis, the process by which they transform themselves into either butterflies or moths.
Webbing Clothes Moth Larva Moving
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This caterpillar in particular is a webbing clothes moth larva. What gives it away is its white coloration, its black head which appears to be too big for its body, as well as its size (which tends to be 1/2 an inch in length). These critters are extremely common in households, and are a species of clothes moth. Clothes moths are infamous for their tendency to infiltrate homes and feed off people’s clothing and other fabrics. Unfortunately, it is at their larval stage that they do the most damage! So, our reader will want to deal with this as soon as possible. Yet, fortunately for our reader, it sounds as if she only found one, meaning there may not be an infestation in her home (which is a risk). It is thus important that she removes the larva from her home before it grows up and lays eggs inside her home. Once fully grown, webbing clothes moth larvae lay upwards of 40 eggs!
What is interesting about webbing clothes moth larvae, is that it can take them between one month and two years for them to mature to the pupal stage. Hence, our reader has quite a bit of time before she needs worry about an infestation. Nonetheless, she will want to remove the larva from her home so it does not eat through any of her fabrics. Webbing clothes moth larvae will only eat animal-based fabrics, but will even eat animal hair. This may explain why they were found on our reader’s dog! We do want to assure our reader that this larva is not parasitic to animals, nor humans, and thus she needs not worry for the safety of herself or her dog.
As it seems that our reader only found one larva, depositing it outside her home should suffice in getting rid of it. However, if our reader does discover an infestation, there are steps she can take to deal with the infestation, as well as prevent further infestations. These larvae can likely be found on untouched clothing hanging in closets, under carpets, and on upholstered furniture. Often do they leave tubes of silk, patches of web, and/or faecal pellets behind, which hint at their presence. If our reader finds infested areas, we recommend vacuuming up all larvae and eggs, and then laundering all infested fabrics with extremely hot water to eradicate any leftover organisms.
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In order to prevent future infestations, we can recommend keeping and sticking to a consistent housekeeping schedule, vacuum sealing unused clothing, and storing valuable pieces of animal-based fabrics in cold vaults.
To conclude, the worm that our reader found on her arm after cuddling her dog is a webbing clothes moth larva. These larvae are pests as they feed off the animal-based fabrics in one’s home, and infestations can occur. However, they are harmless to humans and pets, and our reader needs not worry about her or her dog’s safety. If she finds that her home is infested with these creatures, then following the instructions listed above should suffice in ridding her home of these critters.