Close-up of small larva

Small White Larvae with Black Insides

A reader wrote to us the other day about some small white larvae she found all over a towel on the floor of her home. Apart from being quite small – they are about a half centimeter in length at most – they also have a black interior, almost as if a black larva lived within the white larva. The larvae are therefore almost clear – they are see-through in the way that a light-colored mound of Jell-O might be. The reader is wondering what these creatures are and is concerned about their presence, primarily because she has small children in the house. So, what are the small, white larvae (or clear larvae) with the black insides that our reader recently found?

Helpfully, the reader sent us several excellent pictures of the creatures she is finding. The first image is an extreme close-up of one of the larvae:

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Close-up of small larva

The second picture, clearly taken further away, shows two creatures, both of which are right by a ruler for scale:

small larvae by ruler

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The reader sent additional pictures that were also great, but they showed the same thing – a tiny larva no more than a half a centimeter in length – so we didn’t include them.

Despite the essentially perfect pictures our reader sent in, we aren’t entirely sure what she found. The reader speculated that she found some sort of worm, but allowed for the possibility that they might be larvae instead. They are indeed larvae – on this matter we are confident – so we can at least clear up that confusion. What kind of larva was found, however, is a much more complicated question to answer given the staggeringly large number of species that go through a larval stage of development. It looks to us to be the larval form of some sort of fly, which could make it a maggot if the fly belongs to the Brachycera suborder (like houseflies), or something like a moth fly larvae, a creature we write about all the time. Although the two look very similar, it doesn’t quite look like a moth fly larvae, which overall tend to be darker (in contrast to the whitish, clear larvae pictured above). Generally the insides of maggots (their intestine and other internal body cavities) are not so easily seen from the outside, which is to say their bodies generally aren’t fully transparent, but this isn’t the case with all maggots. If you have the misfortune of looking at pictures of maggots on human wounds, you’ll often see that the interior of their bodies is red from the blood they consume.

Regardless of the exact type of larva our reader found, they are to be taken care of, as our reader surely agrees. While a few maggots, for instance, very likely wouldn’t harm any humans, they should still be eliminated from your home because they are unsanitary and can cause health problems (e.g., myiasis, a common parasitic infection in the livestock industry, but also one that can afflict humans). To get rid of larvae, the basic goal is to remove the conditions that gave rise to the problem in the first place. If an area of the house is moist and has a potential food source, this area needs to be dried and cleaned. The entire generation of larvae needs to be eliminated or they will perpetuate themselves.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to precisely identify what our reader found, but it is definitely a larva, probably of some sort of common insect (e.g., a fly). No matter what they are, they should be removed from the house, although we don’t think they present any sort of serious threat to the health of our reader’s children. As long as the problem hasn’t gotten totally out of hand, thoroughly cleaning the area where the larvae were found will probably take care of the issue. We wish our reader the best of luck.

12 Comments

  1. Lennon

    I have one on my window sill, but it’s about 1 inch long?

  2. Karen D Terry

    I have found a million of these today under my sticky tile next to plywood. I have better pic and video. I need to know what they are so I can get rid of them myself.

  3. H

    Nematode?

  4. Margaret Thomas

    My daughter has found quite a few of these clear lava with black inside which it seems to discard the black out of its body and goes completely clear they were found on a shelf in living room thinks they are dropping from the ceiling of a small alcove in which they was a small hole this leads into a chimney flu she is quite concerned at what they are.

  5. MtlMom

    If anyone is still checking this post, does anyone know if finding one sole worm (on a coffee table, next to my laptop, near books, and near where my cat had been sitting) means that there are others lurking? I squished it, gave my cat Revolution spot-on flea meds, wiped down the coffee table with clorox wipes, then washed the floor and couch nearby, plus the w=nearby windowsill. I also lint-rolled the bedspread and shook out/vacuumed my cat’s bed and sleeping pillows.
    So what are the odds I caught this in time?
    And if I was too late, what other signs should I be looking for in terms of flea stuff.
    Thanks!

  6. Sarah

    I just found the same thing!!!!! Really creeped me out because it was on my leg! I really want to find out what it is.

  7. Carrie

    How do you get rid of these from a mattress? Do I need to throw it out and get a new one or is there some kind of spray that will work?

  8. Amanda

    I found these same things on a towel as well in my spare bedroom. I have never seen them before. They look awfully big to be flea larvae though george. Are you sure? I have two cats and a dog. Ugh that would be terrible if that is what the heck they are.

  9. George

    They are flea larvae

  10. Bleu

    I found these..and also in my mattress. …I searched and searched…I’ve finally found the answer. They are flea larvae..so if you have pets that is what they are.

  11. rhe

    I cant cope! I have found something that looks exactly like them pictures but there black at the front and clear/white at the back, i found 2 on my bed, i need to know will they be living inside my mattress? Will i need to get a new mattress to get rid of them? Its seriously stressing me out, i absolutely hate bugs and stuff, i also found two fleas jumping accross my floor, i have 2 cats and not sure if they have been in my room recently as i have been away for a few weeks

  12. jaki

    I have theses nasty things too. The only thing is, I did clean. It was after I scrubbed the back floor with dawn and bleach, that I saw even more of these things. They’re half the size and smaller o the picture with the ruler. What the check are these things it’s creeping me out.

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