A reader recently asked about a tiny white worm with a black dot on the end. This reader indicated that they found the worm in an ice machine. Given these two facts, the answer is that this “worm” is most likely a maggot, which is the larva of a fly.
Maggots are often white or yellow in appearance and do indeed look like small worms because they are cylindrically shaped. They also have black dots – often oval-shaped – on one end of their body.
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Normally, a cold environment like an ice machine would not make a very inviting home for a maggot, as they tend to thrive in warm, moist places, like rotting food or decaying animals. However, maggots also grow in stagnant water, and it’s certainly possible that small pools will accumulate in ice machines if the internal temperature is not sufficiently cold. If a small pool of water is sitting stagnant for long enough, in an ice machine or elsewhere, flies might use this area to lay their larvae.
Needless to say, the ice machine wherein the maggot was found needs to appropriately cleaned and the temperature settings should also be adjusted. Although a cold environment is not ideal for the breeding of maggots, the appearance of one maggot in almost any place (beyond perhaps a rotting animal corpse somewhere in the savanna) should give one pause.
Why? Well, because maggots are gross and can possibly cause health problems for both humans and animals. For example, contact with maggots can cause myiasis, which involves fly larvae feeding on a host’s tissue, liquids, and/or ingested food. Myiasis is a major problem in the livestock industry, but, again, fly larvae can afflict pets and humans too.
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The other major problem with maggots is the rapidity with which they reproduce. Maggots quickly grow into flies, and once they turn into flies, they may lay larvae themselves, creating even more maggots. In this way, populations of maggots grow exponentially, meaning a few maggots can quickly become a serious infestation if the initial few aren’t taken care of.
To the question asker in particular and our readers in general, make sure to frequently dispose of trash and seal up waste receptacles inside and outside (if flies can’t get into a waste receptacle, they won’t lay their larvae inside it). Also, dispose of the appropriate types of leftovers using the garbage disposal, as this will eliminate the type of rotting food that maggots thrive in. Finally, consider sealing and freezing non-disposal leftovers until waste collection day.