“I found a teeny tiny orange-ish worm with two brown dots”, states this reader in her submission. “What is it and should I be worried?”
She adds that the worm was “crawling on my knitted hat that I had put down on top of a couch while at my mother’s house. It was segmented and slow-moving.”
The closest thing we found that resembles this is the noctuin moth caterpillar. These caterpillars belong to a subfamily of the larger family of noctuid caterpillars, which is the largest family of caterpillars
These nocturnal caterpillars feed on flowering plants that are not grass, known as forbs. An example of this is the dandelion. Additionally, they are considered a type of cutworm, which refers to a whole bunch of caterpillar species which eat through plant stems and cut down the plants (hence the name).
Like all cutworms, noctuin moth caterpillars have an insatiable appetite and can eat through vegetation at an incredible pace, making them highly destructive toward plants, and a pest.
That said, they are not harmful to humans or animals, and are not known to carry disease or pathogens, so our reader need not worry about that.
Of course, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry, so when moving this caterpillar outside (which is what we recommend doing), we suggest scooping it up onto a dustpan without making skin-to-skin contact. This is because, even if a given species of caterpillar is harmless, allergic reactions can still occur upon contact.
Likewise, we do not think she has to be worried about an infestation, seeing as she only found this one caterpillar.
Plus, seeing as it was found on her hat, it is our guess that this caterpillars simply fell on her head while she was outside. Since noctuin caterpillars do not feed on textiles, like the clothes moth caterpillar, it would have no reason to be making homes on people’s hats.
That said, if she finds lots more of these roaming about, then she might want to contact a professional to deal with it.
To conclude, we think that the caterpillars she found might be noctuin moth caterpillars. They are not harmful and we do not think our reader needs to be worried. We hope this article proves helpful, and we wish her the very best!