Today we will investigate some worm-like organisms that one of our readers discovered. She found the creatures in her dog’s food and water (which is kept outside her home), and also found one in her bed! She sent us two photographs. The first shows three of the specimens in the dog’s water bowl:
Due to the cloudiness of the water and the small size of the critters, we can’t determine much about their appearance or identity from this picture. We can see that they are a few centimeters long and light brown or tan colored. However, the next photo shows us everything we need to know about the specimen to identify it:
This light brown, segmented creature is a mealworm! Mealworms are the larval stage of the mealworm beetle, known in the scientific community as Tenebrio molitor. During their larval stage, which lasts anywhere between 90-114 days, mealworms can shed their hard outer layer, or exoskeleton, 9-20 times! This process allows the mealworms to grow bigger. Mealworms are generally considered to be pest worms because they eat stored grains. They may also scavenge for decaying material and are excellent decomposers.
The mealworms our reader discovered were probably feeding on the dog food that was left outside. We aren’t sure why she found one in her bed. Perhaps her dog accidentally got a mealworm stuck on its fur and unknowingly dragged it into the house and her bed. If our reader wants to get rid of these larvae, we suggest she only leave out small amounts of food for the dog that will be eaten right away. She can also store the excess food in airtight containers that the larvae won’t be able to get into.
In conclusion, one of our readers found a worm-like organism in her dog’s food and water bowl. Based on the pictures she shared with us, we are confident that these creatures are mealworms.