We received an email from a reader a little while ago about what appears to be a short, fat larva. The larva was in the reader’s bed climbing on her arm when she discovered it. Its color is hard to describe, but it is basically a brown or grayish hue. The reader didn’t actually ask a question, but we are assuming she is curious what she found, so we’ll focus on the matter of identification. What kind of short, fat brown or gray larva might turn up in a bed?
First, here is the picture the reader submitted along with her email:
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It is hard to determine exactly how big this creature is, but he looks fairly small based on the imprinted pattern on the paper towel or toilet paper on which it lies.
Unfortunately, about all we can say about this creature with any degree of confidence is that it looks like some kind of insect larvae. One of the best ways to identify an insect larva is to examine its thorax, the three body segments that are behind its head. If the thorax has segmented legs, this leads to several possible identifications, ranging from caterpillars to carpet beetle larvae. If the larva has no legs, this too gives rise to several possibilities, most of which are the larval form of an insect that belongs to the Diptera order, which contains flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. Because the creature pictured above is curled up, we cannot determine whether or not it has legs. It doesn’t appear to, but the legs on the thorax can be quite small and hard to see, especially if this is an immature larva.
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We’ll assume the larva doesn’t have legs, and in which case it looks a bit like a black soldier fly larva or a crane fly larva. Black soldier fly larvae tend to live in compost heaps or their naturally occurring counterparts, and crane flies are often found in the top layers of soil, and they can also be found in aquatic or semiaquatic environments. Thus, neither species is a common household pest, but it isn’t inconceivable to find one in your home, and so perhaps our reader found one of these types of larva.
In this particular instance, we can’t offer our reader any definite identification, but perhaps we have at least given her some information that will help her pursue the matter further if our suggested identifications prove to be false.