“Right now here it’s the rainy season and I’ve seen this worm multiple times but I don’t know what it is,” writes this reader in her submission regarding the red-brown bug pictured below. “Is it harmful?” To start with, we have to point out how fantastic this photo is. We can see every minute detail on the creature’s body: its antennae, legs, segmentation, and coloration. Based on this photo, we have concluded that this is a footspinner. Also referred to as webspinners, or by their scientific name, Embioptera, these guys are not worms at all, but insects. They are somewhat unusual, and the one our reader has caught in her photo is a likely female one. The reason we can tell this is because the male footspinner often has wings. Of course, the male footspinners can be wingless too.
These guys are known for their ability to run backwards very quickly, and for being able to create the silk structures in which they live. Now, ‘Embioptera’ does not actually refer to just one species of insect, but over 200 of them. All of these species do share similar characteristics, however, such as preferring tropical climates, which is likely why this little lady came out during the rainy season. The silk structures they create are quite impressive and can house many footspinners at once, and, like ants, they live in colonies. Their diet consists of plant matter like lichen, bark, moss, and dead leaves. That said, cannibalism is not entirely uncommon, and female footspinners, like many species of spiders, have been known to eat their mates after reproduction.
As far as we can tell, footspinners are not harmful to humans or pets, so our reader needs not worry about that. Now, we do not know from what our reader has written if these were found outside or inside, but in any case, we do not recommend killing them. If found inside, we advise moving them back outside. Make sure to seal any sizable cracks in walls and floors, and to replace or mend any torn window screens, in order to avoid the invasion of bugs in general. If they keep invading her home, then there might be an infestation going on. In that case, we recommend vacuuming her entire home. Infestations would likely be short-lived anyway, since they would have no source of food in a building, and would only infest one to take shelter from unfavorable weather conditions. Now, if they were found outside, we suggest just leaving them alone.
In conclusion, the bug our reader found is a footspinner. They are not worms, so this is technically outside our area of expertise, but it doesn’t hurt to exercise the ol’ brain and learn something new every now and then! We hope this has proved to be as interesting for our reader as it has for us, and we wish her the very best!
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