“I found this little worm on the corner of my bathroom floor towel (only used for standing/drying feet)”, writes Nic in his submission regarding the translucent worm with a black head and dark entrails pictured below. “Have never noticed any other critters before nor have any health complaints, but it doesn’t look like a carpet beetle nor a clothes moth worm. I recently adopted an older cat from a shelter, but that was only two days ago and I don’t think he’s been in this room yet. So hmmmm, not sure what this little guy is? Obviously it is time to toss the towel in the washer!”
To start with, we want to thank Nic for the excellent photo and the great amount of context: it really helps us narrow down the possibilities for what this creature could be. In our opinion, given the physical characteristics of the creature, as well as the location in which it was found and the presence of a cat, we think this is probably a flea larva. Now, finding flea larvae does not automatically mean that one’s cat has fleas, though we do advise that Nic takes his cat to the vet to get checked, as this is the most plausible source. Unlike adult fleas, flea larvae do not feed on the blood of mammals. Rather, they feed on dead organic matter that they can scavenge for, and find lots of, around the home: loose hair and fur, dead skin, faeces, and dead insects/larvae. For that reason, people have found flea larvae on their towels before, as well as on their beds, clothing, and plenty of other locations. Just because Nic’s cat has not been in this room does not negate the possibility that this flea larva traveled from a different room, or that Nic unknowingly brought the larva with him into the bathroom after petting his cat.
Again, we have to stress that we are not saying that Nic’s cats definitely have fleas. Only a medical professional (in this case a vet) is qualified and legally able to conclude this. We are merely entertaining the possibility for the sake of suggesting where the larva may have come from. But equally it could have come inside a different way. Nic may have accidentally brought it inside from somewhere else: this is how many worm-like creatures enter people’s homes after all. In any case, we agree that Nic should throw the towel in the washer, but we would add that washing any other towels or textiles that were near this towel is also necessary, as well as vacuuming the bathroom. Given the possibility that these are coming from his cat, it will be necessary to launder and vacuum any of the items and areas that the cat spends time in before and after the visit to the vet. It might take several rounds of laundering and vacuuming to fully eliminate the infestation, but it will be worth it. Nic will not want to have to repeat the process again later because some eggs or larvae survived, matured into adult fleas, and then infected his cat again (potentially). And if it turns out that his cat does not have fleas, then he will be able to prevent the infection before it begins.
In conclusion, the worm-like critter Nic found on his towel looks like a flea larva, and the context surrounding its discovery also points to this conclusion. We hope this helps, and we wish Nic, as well as his cat, the very best!
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