“I found a little critter on my bathroom floor a few weeks ago” says this reader about the worm-like creature with “a dark red head”, “striped brown” body and “a bunch of little feet.” Having saved the creature from a worse fate out in the cold, our reader is concerned that the critter is dying as he does not know what species it is, nor what food it needs.
Our reader first identified the creature as a mealworm, and as such has been feeding “him” the adequate diet for a mealworm. From the image, this looks to be apple slices and oats, among other things. However, our reader is now beginning to think this might instead be “some type of caterpillar or inch worm.” He notes that the caterpillar is starting to weaken and is not moving much, and as a consequence our reader has grown worried that the caterpillar is not eating or getting water anymore. As he no longer knows what to think of this worm, he definitely does not want to leave it outside, as it has been too cold in Howard County, Maryland where he resides. He adds that the caterpillar has a web-like material in a “part of his container.” If this is indeed a caterpillar or inch worm, then it makes sense that our reader found this type of material; caterpillars are able to produce silk- or web-like material as they use this to spin their cocoons for pupation.
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Now, while we agree that this is some type of caterpillar (inch worms classifying as caterpillars since they are moth larvae), we are not sure exactly as to what species this creature belongs. Its coloration and pattern is quite standard, and we cannot make out the finer details in the poor lighting in the photograph. As a result, there are a range of caterpillars that fit this description, such as armyworms, fern caterpillars, or cutworms. Regardless, we might not have to figure out the exact identity of the caterpillar to find out how to save this one. What all of these three caterpillar species have in common is that they all eat various parts of plants. Cutworms will eat the stems of plants, fern caterpillars will eat the leaves, and armyworms are not that picky. This goes for countless other caterpillar species. For that reason, we recommend that our reader find as big a variety of plants as possible, both inside and outside his home, and put samples of each plant in the container the caterpillar is living in (stems included). This way, he covers all his bases and gives the caterpillar the biggest chance of survival. He may also want to put in some soil or mulch (free of other creatures) in case the caterpillar eats any materials present in soil. Our reader can then check in consistently to see if the caterpillar is chewing on any particular plant, and then he can go from there. Additionally, our reader may also want to put the caterpillar in as warm a climate as possible (though not in fatal temperatures, of course), as most caterpillar species thrive in warm, albeit somewhat humid climates. If our reader is really committed to keeping this caterpillar alive, he may even consider obtaining a heat lamp.
In conclusion, we are not quite sure what our reader found on his bathroom floor. It is definitely some type of caterpillar, so we hope that the general advice we provided proves helpful to the caterpillar, as we want to see it get better as much as our reader! Lastly, we want to commend our reader on having a big heart and looking out for the little guy; we are sure that if this caterpillar could speak, it would thank our reader wholeheartedly, but since it cannot, we will thank him on the caterpillar’s behalf: thank you! We would love to hear updates on the status of the caterpillar, so our reader is more than welcome to contact us again or share updates in the comments section of this article with whatever he can tell us. We wish him and the caterpillar the best of luck.
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