Extremely Small Worms on the Bathroom Wall

A couple of weeks back, we received a question from a reader about some very small worms (actually, “very” perhaps isn’t quite strong enough of a word – they are more like extremely small worms) that were found on her bathroom wall near the ceiling. The reader sent us two pictures of the extremely small worms, which are probably not worms at all, but rather some type of larvae. Even by larvae standards, these larvae (if they are larvae) are very small. The reader only wanted to know what these little creatures are (worms? larvae? something else?), which is a modest inquiry, but a difficult one just the same.

Here is the first picture sent in by the reader:

worms with thumbnail

Obviously, this isn’t the clearest picture, but thanks to the inclusion of the reader’s thumb, it is easy to see that these creatures are in fact very small. We can’t be exactly sure (in part because we aren’t sure how big our reader’s thumb is), but they look to be only about one to two millimeters (a little less than a tenth of an inch) in length.

The reader also submitted this picture, which shows the creatures more clearly:

close-up of worms on wall

Any time we receive questions about small “worms” that are found in a reader’s bathroom (which happens a lot), our first guess is that the reader found moth fly larvae (i.e., the immature form of the moth fly). These are very common, and they are frequently found in bathrooms because of the moist areas in this part of the house.

This is our default guess based on the facts we are confronted with, but we have some reservations about this suggestion in the present case. First, the creature pictured above is, as we’ve said multiple times, extremely small, smaller than your average moth fly larva, which tend to be around a quarter of an inch in length (about eight millimeters). Moth fly larvae can be as short as an eighth of an inch (about four millimeters), but even this seems a little larger than the creature pictured above. Also, moth fly larvae tend to live in moist places themselves (as opposed to being found in the area of moist places, as is the case with the adult form). For example, you might find moth fly larvae in drains or toilet bowls because this is where the moisture is, and you generally wouldn’t find them on the wall of the bathroom. On the other hand, it’s possible to find the larvae in places that are merely around wet areas, and moreover moth fly larvae tend to be a brownish color, just like the creatures in the picture above.

So, our best guess is that our reader found moth fly larvae – and there are at least a couple of reasons for thinking this – but in truth we are not very confident in this suggestion; we do think, however, that the reader probably found some type of larvae. Alas, we simply have no other specific suggestions to offer. So, readers of the article, please post a comment below if you have any guesses as to what this creature might be.

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17 Comments

  1. Mari

    I am from Chilw and just today we found a patch like this in the ceiling of our kitchen. I saw it yesterday but thought it was paint that had come off, today I watched it closely and guessed it was like tiny ants, took a picture of it and realized they were like larves moving ? we scraped them off with a paper and took a video they move like caterpillars ? we burned them just in case..

  2. Angelique

    I just found a patch on the wall of the living room, if I’m honest we get moths like every five seconds in this house. But the picture that we took of them shows them having a blue glow, it honestly makes me sick. My mom just sprayed them with bleach and then we called it a day but i can’t get over it.

  3. Cristina

    Thank you for the information, I am from Bogota, Colombia. I found almost the same “larvae” in one of the bedrooms in my apartment, but they are like white…. could be the same? thanks in advance for your reply.

  4. Marie

    I had this small patch that kinda look like tiny coffee grounds on my ceiling in the kitchen. So I put clear tape on it to try and get it off and when I did they looked like tiny worms moving! OMG! I’ve never seen anything like this! Thanks so much for all the posts I would of never guessed a moth.

  5. Anne Gillam

    Finding the larvae only in the bathroom is not true….they were on my living room ceiling…so tiny….so I think there may be another explanation for what it is or where it grows…..not satisfied with this answer…the picture with the thumb in it is an exact match to the the one on my living room ceiling…it was removed and in 2 weeks it came back .

  6. Sabine Fritz

    We currently have the same pests in our bathroom. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  7. Christopher

    I just realized what Heather wrote. The moth fly must’ve laid its larvae on the spot i partially squished the moth so the little worms had something to eat?! I dont think we’ll be using the doorwall to go out at night anymore. There are always a bunch of tiny flies out there. Gotta love Florida! Thanks again to all the contributors!

  8. Christopher

    I had a moth on my ceiling a few days ago. I couldn’t reach it to get it out so i threw a towel up at it. The moth fell to the ground. I grabbed some paper towel to scoop it up but it disappeared. I noticed a spot on the ceiling where the moth was but didn’t think anything of it. Thought it was just the powder often found on moths. Maybe it was, at first. I stood on my speaker to wipe the spot and noticed the spot moving. When i disturbed the area a few of the 50 or more worms started slowly repelling like a spider would. Very creepy. Lesson learned…if you see a moth in your house, pay attention to where it lands, especially if you swat it. Make sure you wipe it up well! Thanks to this website for all the great info!

  9. kelsey

    I just found a patch of these on my wall too grossss…we do have a lot of what i thought was a gnat or fruit fly around the drains in our shower and sink, the patch was on the wall out side the bathroom

  10. Heather

    I have seen these in my house as well. These are moth fly larvae, but to those who you
    Think the moth fly is an actual moth it is not. The moth fly is a tiny little fly very similar to a fruit fly.

  11. james

    yep, had these too. I remember a large moth in my house 2 days ago.

  12. SK

    I had these hatching on my bathroom walls. I think moth larvae is correct. I had a moth fly in our apartment a few days ago…can’t remember exactly but they look exactly the same. See the following site:

    http://woodswalksandwildlife.blogspot.com/2011/08/baby-moth-explosion.html?showComment=1401318497957#c4185297897596396479

  13. Kerryn

    I have the same thing and Im ready to move OUT NOW!!! Earlier this week I noticed out the corner of my eye what I thought to be paint chipping. A few days later I noticed another spot, I just assumed my son must’ve threw something at the wall causing the white paint to chip away to show brown. As I notice the spot seems a little bigger, I take a closer look only to find these little monsters…I immediately run to the computer to google and I find this site.

    I think you guys are right about the moth, I killed a large moth in my bathroom about 4 days ago. I am going to go spray these things and pray none of them swing on that silk string thingy in my direction or Im going to die…

    I will let you guys know how it goes… hopefully this will solve the problem…

  14. sks

    I found these just now – gross. do they come back? do they reappear in other places in your house? I am itchy just thinking about this.
    thanks!

  15. Leah

    Thanks for the post – I had the same little critters in my bathroom on the wood jam of a window. I live in San Francisco. Perhaps water condenses on the wall after showers as a source of moisture. I have a photo identical to yours here. I also observed some of the worms/larvae dropping short distances on silk. Interesting!

  16. Kim

    One other thing I just thought of. A few hung from nearly invisible silky “strings”. Searching for this fact, led me to newly hatched
    silkworms.

  17. Kim

    Had exact same “larvae” by the hundreds in our bathroom also this week. These are the only matching pictures I’ve been able to find on the web. Move like tiny earthworms. The only clue is that my kids claim to have see equally small “gnat-like” bugs with wings. Even smaller than normal gnats. Maybe there is a connection? We live in middle Tennessee. Thank you.

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