“Found this worm on my trouser, where it looked like it matched the grey color and then it took over my pencil”, writes Abhinav in his submission regarding the curved, green, little critter pictured below. “As soon as it sensed danger, it left a green color liquid and died.” Firstly, we want to thank Abhinav for the great photo; he managed to capture an incredibly tiny creature in such great detail. Secondly, we want to point to our previous description of this worm as “curved”, which is actually a very important characteristic. It is because of the arch of this creature’s body that we immediately identified it as an inchworm.
Inchworms are caterpillars of North American moths that are characterized by the placement of their legs on their bodies: typically three sets up front (truelegs) and two at the back (prolegs), totalling fourteen legs. Because of how their legs are placed, they arch their back as they walk, just like the one in Abhinav’s photo is doing. These guys are completely harmless to humans and pets, so Abhinav needs not worry about this. At first, we thought it would be pertinent to warn Abhinav against touching the green fluid, as we reasoned, based on other species of caterpillars and worms, that it could cause a mild allergic reaction and that this secretion was likely a defense mechanism. But then we remembered that inchworms, generally speaking, do not possess this defense mechanism. The only mechanisms we know of are that they can spin silk at a moment’s notice to repel off high surfaces and escape a predator, or to go rigid and pretend to be a stick or leaf. The fact that this inchworm reacted by leaking green liquid and dying is very odd.
In any case, we recommend that Abhinav just move the inchworm outside and call it a day, as he only found the one critter. We think it likely fell on him from a tree and he unknowingly brought it inside, as that is how a lot of caterpillars get inside our homes. If there was an infestation going on, Abhinav would have noticed far more inchworms in his home. If he wants to avoid future intrusions like this, it’s as easy as checking one’s clothing and shoes before entering the home, at least during summer. Likewise, to prevent intrusions of other critters, mending or replacing torn window screens, sealing cracks in walls and floors, and keeping one’s home warm, dry, and clean is essential.
To conclude, the creature Abhinav found on his trousers is an inchworm. They are harmless little caterpillars, and it is sad that this one needlessly and randomly died. We hope this helps, and we wish Abhinav the very best.
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