Today we will respond to a reader who sent us two photographs of organisms she found in her home. She explained that she found the “pink worm” by the window, and the “maggot-looking worm” came up from the carpet. She said there was only one pink worm, and lots of the worms that came from the carpet. She also mentioned that she has two giant Washington palms by the front door. Let’s start by looking at the pink worm:
Since our reader cleverly took a photo of the specimen next to a dime, we have a solid understanding of how big this creature is. The creature has a pink, segmented body and a brown head. We think this specimen is a palm flower moth larva. Palm flower moth larvae are caterpillars that live and feed on plants in the palm family. They typically live outside, but these caterpillars sometimes venture into a home to collect pieces of carpet to use when they make their cocoons. Our reader mentioned that she has two palms near her front door, so this could explain why the larva was in her home! We recommend that she simply place the caterpillar back outside and focus on how to prevent more larvae from sneaking into her home. She should check to make sure her front door and the nearby windows are properly sealed and screened. Since these larvae are pretty tiny, any small gap will need to be sealed in order to prevent them from crawling in. The good news is that palm flower moth larvae aren’t considered to be dangerous or household pests, which means our reader doesn’t need to stress about her health or an infestation. Now, on to the “maggot-looking worm:”
This is a mealworm! Mealworms, which are the larvae of mealworm beetles, are considered common household pests since they can feed on stored grains. Left unchecked, a mealworm infestation might grow beyond the pantry as they burrow into the carpet. Our reader should begin by investigating all the stored grain products in her home. Anything that shows signs of a mealworm infestation should be thrown out. Everything else should be properly sealed to prevent future pests from sneaking in. Once the potential food sources have been disposed of and/or sealed off, our reader can focus on treating her carpet. There are a few steps we recommend she take in order to make her carpet mealworm free, which we will explain below.
First, she can sprinkle diatomaceous earth (also known as D.E.) on her carpet. D.E. is a powder made up of the fossilized remains of diatoms. It kills insects and worm-like organisms, but is harmless for humans and pets to come into contact with or ingest! Next, our reader can vacuum her entire carpet, even the parts that are covered by furniture. She should do this several times a day if she is dealing with an infestation. Our reader can also move her furniture and shampoo her carpet using carpet shampoo and hot water. She can wash her carpet a few times a week during an infestation, and she should always vacuum after shampooing to remove any dead larvae! Following these steps will help our reader eliminate mealworms from her carpet and home!
To sum up, one of our readers found two organisms that we have identified as a palm flower moth larva and a mealworm. Saying goodbye to these creatures primarily involves cleaning! To keep future pests out, we recommend that she seal all her windows, screens, and ventilation systems to eliminate the tiny gaps that are so inviting to small organisms!