Small White Critters Found in the Bathroom: Worms or Maggots?

A reader found some very small white worms in his bathtub and would like to know what they are. While there are a couple of different possibilities, small, white, wormlike creatures found in the bathroom or kitchen are most often maggots (another possibility is that they are planarians, a type of flatworm, but these worms are usually aquatic so this seems unlikely unless the reader’s bathtub was full when he sent us his question).

Maggots are the larval, or immature, stage of the common housefly. They are very small, perhaps 1/8” long, have an elongated shape, and move in a wiggling, crawling motion, which causes them to be commonly mistaken for worms. Before maggots mature into their adult, airborne form, they survive by feeding on waste and decayed food and flesh. For this reason, maggots thrive in environments like bathrooms and kitchens where various unsanitary conditions, such as (pardon the example) urine on the bathroom floor or uneaten or rotten food left out on the kitchen, attract them like their mature fly brethren to honey.

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How is one to get rid of these pests? Unfortunately, maggots seem to be resistant to many of the common pesticides used to kill other bothersome insects (although in general we caution against the use of pesticides unless it is absolutely necessary). In fact, simply pouring boiling water on the maggots seems to be the most reliable way to kill them. Make sure you sweep up the carcasses and put them in a sealed trash bag.

More important, however, is to break the maggots’ reproductive cycle by going after the flies. For some reason, flies are more susceptible to most common bug sprays and pesticides. Hunt down the maggots’ winged parents and they will no longer be able to lay eggs and produce the next generation. Above all else, remove the conditions that allowed the maggots to thrive in the first place by cleaning the bathroom and removing any rotten or uneaten food from the kitchen. Also clean up any moisture that may have accumulated around the house, as part of the maggot life cycle requires them to seek out a damp place where they can mature into flies. Take these steps, and the war against the pests will soon be won.

In summary, small white worms found in the bathroom or kitchen are most likely maggots. Get rid of them by pouring boiling water on the maggots, using pesticides or bug sprays on the flies, and removing any rotten or uneaten food, moisture, or unsanitary conditions from your home.

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