“EWWW!!!” says this reader upon finding larvae crawling up from the baking soda she put on a bathroom carpet in an attempt to clean it. The larvae in question are a gradient of colors, their bodies moving from white to dark gray, with a black tip on the lighter end. They also appear to be bristled, and from the video our reader sent it is clear that the larvae have no legs.
Our reader states that she wants to be able to “identify and neutralize the problem” so that this does not remain a problem when the bathroom gets repaired. In addition to the photographs and video, our reader sent in a decent amount of context (which we are very thankful for) which we will relay through this article. Naturally, we will also give some suggestions as to what these larvae might be. The bathroom in which these larvae were found is currently being renovated and belongs to a family our reader has been helping with this task. “Whoever built the home had the wonderful idea to put carpet in the bathroom,” says our reader. She adds that the family she is helping has two young boys and consequently the bathroom smells like urine. Our reader has been cleaning the carpet with home remedies, namely baking soda. When she was putting baking soda on the carpet around the toilet, she discovered a leak, which likely contributes to the odour. After she let the baking soda sit for a couple of hours, our reader went back to inspect the bathroom and found the larvae pictured above. Lastly, she states that the floor will eventually be updated and the carpet pulled, but that she will call “someone else” if this turns out to be an infestation, implying that she will call pest control or some equivalent.
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The first possibility is that these are drain fly larvae. Drain fly larvae are common bathroom pests that are usually found in large amounts. They tend to be brown and beige-striped, but they have also been known to be different colors, such as black and dark-gray. Drain fly larvae, as their name suggests, come up from the drains in bathrooms, kitchens and basements. The adult fly (which many mistake for a moth) lays its eggs on the organic film that builds up in a long-neglected drain, and it is these films that one must remove if they are to have a hope of eradicating a drain fly infestation. What has us questioning this identification is the coloration and shape of these larvae. As previously stated, drain fly larvae do tend to be striped, and they also have longer bodies. That said, we should not rule out this as a possibility, especially since the discovery of a leak would explain the presence of drain fly larvae. If our reader wants more information on drain fly larvae specifically, we recommend that she check out this past article we wrote on drain fly larvae.
The second possibility is that these are carpet beetle larvae. These are also common household pests that can virtually be found in any room of the house that has materials that are from animals, or are animal-based in their construction. That includes hair, fur, feathers, clothing, upholstered furniture, silk sheets, and more. Infestations of carpet beetle larvae go largely missed until they become really serious. In large numbers, they can cause significant damage to clothing, upholstery, carpets and other household items. What has us sceptical about this identification is also the physical characteristics of the larvae our reader found. Whilst carpet beetle larvae can be this color, they also tend to be striped. Furthermore, although carpet beetle larvae do have bristles like the larvae in our reader’s photos, they also have legs and thus do not contract their bodies in the way that the larvae in the video do. That being said, though we have never encountered a situation like this one, if these are indeed carpet beetle larvae then perhaps they cannot walk properly amidst all the baking soda, and are forced to move in this way. Additionally, although it makes more sense for these to be drain fly larvae, it is not impossible for carpet beetle larvae to be found in this bathroom, both because it is carpeted, and also because they might be feeding on fallen hair or fur that has stuck to the carpet. If our reader wishes to read up on these critters, she is more than welcome to check out this article we wrote on carpet beetle larvae.
Now, what should be done about the infestation is really up to the discretion of the family our reader is helping. To us, it does seem that this is an infestation, and so it might not be a bad idea to call a professional to deal with it. Alternatively, the family could put a couple of the larvae in a container with some air holes and food (try some organic matter as well as some hair/fur, to cover all the bases) and wait to see what they mature into. The bigger they grow, the more unique characteristics they are likely to develop. They may even pupate inside the container and transform into a fly or beetle, depending on the species! If this method is applied, we encourage our reader to send more photos of the larvae after they have matured more so that we can potentially give a more accurate, and confident identification.
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In conclusion, the larvae our reader found in this family’s bathroom could either be drain fly larvae, carpet beetle larvae, or something else. As these critters are so tiny and this context is quite special, it is difficult to say for certain, though our bets are on these being drain fly larvae. If our reader ends up uncovering anything more, or decides to raise some of the larvae as suggested, then we welcome any more photos and information. Otherwise, we hope this article proves somewhat useful to our reader, despite not being able to provide any direct solutions to this problem.