“This morning I found dozens of tiny worms on the cement in my backyard”, writes Suzanna about the darkly-colored, worm-like creature pictured below. “They are about a half inch to maybe a little shy of an inch. The article “Segmented, Black Worm-like Critter with Spiky Rear and Huge Eyespots” had an image of the closest thing I could find online that looks like them, except instead of four spikes these little guys only have two tiny “spikes” that look barely more than two well-defined tips. But the color and texture of their body and shape are exactly the same as the reader’s critter, perhaps slightly lighter in color. I’ve attached a few pictures. I live in the Piedmont area of North Carolina and I’ve never seen these before and I’m particularly interested because it’s winter, and although yesterday’s high was 65 F, last night temperatures were in the high 30s. Could you please help me identify these? Should I be concerned, especially since there are literally dozens of them that suddenly appeared overnight?”
To start with, we want to thank Suzanna for the plethora of excellent photographs, as well as the bountiful context, all of which greatly helps us identify the creatures we are asked about. In this case, we believe she has found crane fly larvae. The crane fly is famously disliked, mostly for its spindly, long legs and body. Many refer to them simply as daddy long legs, as they do really just look like them, just with wings. Others would argue they look more like giant mosquitoes, but that they definitely are not!
Depending on the species, the larvae are either aquatic or terrestrial, which also affects their diet. Aquatic species tend to eat decaying plant matter or other insect larvae, while terrestrial larvae eat plant roots and are often considered pests. Neither type of larva is harmful to humans or pets, so Suzanna needs not worry on that front. A fun fact about aquatic crane fly larvae is that they are sensitive to pollution, and observing spikes or declines in their population can tell you how clean or unclean a given body of water is. Of course, in Suzanna’s case, she seems to have found terrestrial larvae. Now, to answer her final question, we don’t think she needs to be concerned about the sudden outburst of larvae. It is likely that a batch of crane fly eggs recently hatched and that is why so many larvae have seemingly appeared from nowhere. Of course, since they can be considered pests of the lawn and garden, she might want to move the larvae elsewhere if she is worried about them infesting her yard.
In conclusion, we believe Suzanna found crane fly larvae. These creatures might not be the prettiest of sights, nor are their adult counterparts, but they are completely harmless. We hope this helps, and we wish Suzanna the very best!
All About Worms is always free, always reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP Publishing.