“I found this worm on my sofa”, states this reader in her submission regarding the segmented, pink worm-like organism pictured below. “It’s the third one I’ve found over the last month – all on the sofa. I am unsure if it’s from my dog (who lounges with us), or an infestation from another source. I’m including a picture for help! Thanks!” Based on the photo, we would say this is a caterpillar of some kind, meaning the larva of a butterfly or moth, though what species in particular we are not sure. We thought it could be a palm flower caterpillar, though the color of its head is darker than most palm flower caterpillars. Alternatively, we thought it might be a leafroller caterpillar, based on its shape and feature, though most leafroller caterpillars are not this pink, but more green.
Another thought we had was that this could be a leafroller moth caterpillar that has been infected with the parasite Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, which is a nematode that infects larvae of a number of insect species and turns their bodies pink to scare off predators. On top of that, they even make their hosts’ bodies glow! The parasite wants to avoid predators in order to avoid being eaten themselves, so it is really a clever tactic. Now, seeing as they turn their hosts pink, the caterpillar our reader found could really be any number of once pale-colored caterpillar species and not necessarily a leafroller caterpillar. And besides, it would be impossible for us to say with confidence that this is a parasite-infected caterpillar: one would have to look inside the body of the caterpillar to find that out.
In any case, we advise that our reader move any caterpillars she finds outside, and that she launder the covers on her sofa and vacuum the area around it. It might even be a good idea to vacuum that entire room, if not her entire home, just to be sure she gets any unseen eggs and larvae that may be scattered around – seeing as this has been going on for over a month, the larvae could have moved across her entire home.
Additionally, if she is worried about the health of her dog, she should take it to the vet to get it checked. We are not qualified or legally able to identify parasites of large animals (including humans) as we are not medical professionals. If she becomes more certain that the worms are coming from her dog, then she should also disregard any of the suggested identifications made above.
In conclusion, we think that the pink worms our reader has been finding on her couch are caterpillars of some sort. They likely are spawning there because an egg cluster was laid somewhere in or around the sofa and they hatched there. Or there could be spilled food or dog fur on the couch that they like feeding on (depending on their preferred diet). Of course, seeing as our reader is concerned about the health of her dog, we cannot say that these are caterpillars for certain, so she should check with a vet to get a medical professional’s opinion on the matter. We hope this helps and we wish her 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.