A concerned reader wrote to us about the small, brown worms she has been discovering in her laundry room for some time. Actually, the reader not only found the small worms in the laundry room, but also in the kitchen recently, which took her distress to new heights. She was wondering if the worms (if they are worms, which probably isn’t the case because they look like larvae – more on that in a moment) were “invading” her house. The reader was also particularly worried about the “worms” because she has two kids in her house, one of whom is only two years old. What are these small, brown worms (or larvae), and should our reader be worried about them?
Helpfully, the reader sent us a picture:
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As we mentioned, we suspect that the reader is dealing with some type of larvae, not a worm, and to the reader’s credit, she never claimed she saw worms, but merely “worm type creatures.” What type of larvae? Like most of the answers we provide, we can’t be certain, but we think she has come across the larvae of moth flies, which are quite common. Moth flies – also called “drain flies,” “filter flies,” and “sewer flies” – tend to be a dark gray color. They are commonly found in bathrooms, particularly around the drains (hence the moth’s alternative names); indeed, they can be found around drains anywhere in your house, and a few other places as well (mostly places that come into contact with water).
Moth flies are of course the source of moth fly larvae, and the latter are our real concern in the present context. Like the adult form they grow into, moth fly larvae are generally found around drains. They are also commonly found in pipes, but the average person wouldn’t observe them there because, well, they are in pipes. Basically, the larvae are attracted to moist places, so this is where you will find them. Why our reader is finding them in the laundry room is something we can’t answer. Is the laundry room damp? Are there drains in this room? We don’t know, but if there are moist places in the laundry room, then too there can be moth fly larvae.
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These larvae tend be about a quarter of inch long, and they are often a brownish color. This description seems to match the picture above, although we aren’t sure what kind of coin is featured in the picture, meaning we can’t be sure how long the creatures are. The good news for our reader is that moth fly larvae do not bite or sting. The bad news is that they can carry a lot of bacteria on them because of where they like to dwell, and of course certain types of bacteria can be harmful to humans. So, finding moth larvae is not a catastrophic problem, but you do want to get rid of them.
How do you get rid of them? Mostly by preventative measures. The reader insists that she keeps her house very clean, and we have no reason to doubt her, but perhaps she hasn’t been focusing her cleaning efforts on the right areas (i.e., drains and other moist areas). All these areas should be thoroughly scrubbed to destroy the moth fly’s breeding ground. It is also a good idea for our reader to eliminate moisture to the extent that she can by, for example, fixing leaky sinks and opening windows when people in the house shower. Finally, our reader should make sure that doors and windows in her house are sealed (screens are good for this), as this will help keep moth flies out of her house.
We hope this helps our reader deal with her moth fly larvae problem, assuming she is in fact dealing with moth fly larvae. It seems fairly likely that she is, but, alas, we can’t be sure.