A reader recently reached out to us about some worms that have invaded her home. She hopes we will be able to identify these worms and help her get rid of them. The reader describes the worms as slightly resembling mealworms, between ¼ and ½ inches long. In addition, she says they have a blood red “head” and a pinkish body supported by many legs. Finally, she concludes that when she has removed these worms from her kitchen ceiling, they have left behind a web-like substance. Based on the reader’s description, it is safe to assume that the reader is not dealing with a type of worm, but a type of larva. This is a common misconception because larvae are often referred to as worms.
Despite the reader’s detailed description, it is hard to identify this pest without a picture. The reader mentioned that she has only found the larva on the kitchen ceiling so far, so they are isolated to one room in the house. Based on this fact and her comparison to a mealworm, we believe that what the reader has found are pantry moth larvae. These larvae are known commonly as waxworms.
Waxworms often have a light body color, with a dark head. Depending on the larvae, this color contrast can appear as yellow and brown, white and brown, or even pink and red – like the one’s our reader found! Waxworms look very similar to mealworms, which supports the reader’s observations. Also, larvae spin webs when they hatch, so this would explain why she found deposited web-like material when removing the creatures.
To get rid of larvae, the reader will need to identify which food in her pantry brought in the infestation and immediately dispose of it. To be on the safe side, the reader might get rid of any suspicious foods. After getting rid of questionable food, the reader should thoroughly clean her kitchen and pantry. To prevent future infestations, the reader can store her grains in airtight containers, and purchase foods in smaller quantities. Refrigerating food is also effective at keeping larvae out.