Recently we received yet another question about tiny white worms with black heads. This time, the small worms (or more likely larvae) were in a swarm on the ceiling. There are probably at least a hundred worms or larvae in the picture we were sent, and they are all in a small area of the ceiling, tightly packed together. The reader indicated that we had tentatively identified similar creatures in the past as moth fly larvae, and was wondering if the small white worms (or larvae) with black heads that he found are moth fly larvae.
First, here is the picture our reader sent in:
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The lighting in the picture isn’t particularly good, but if you look closely, it appears that the creatures’ bodies are a light (if perhaps not entirely white) color, and their heads are considerably darker.
On at least four separate occasions, we have written about these or similar creatures:
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The titles use different wording to reflect the questions we were asked, but these are all about larvae that look more or less the same. (And all of these creatures are almost certainly larvae, not worms, so we’ll refer to them accordingly moving forward.)
In each of these articles, we’ve suggested that the larvae in question might be moth fly larvae or Indian Mealmoth larvae, both of which can have white (or whitish) bodies with distinct black heads. This is truer of Indian Mealmoth larvae than of moth fly larvae, whose body color and head color aren’t always in stark contrast, but both creatures can resemble each other. The creatures pictured above could be either type of larvae, but given how small they appear to be, we think it is more likely they are moth fly larvae.
However, this is not to say that he did in fact find moth fly larvae, as lots of different larvae look very similar. For instance, the creatures above look a bit like fungus gnat larvae, a fairly broad name that ranges over the larval form of gnats in a number of different families, and for that matter they look like any given gnat larvae, fungus gnat or otherwise. There are tens of thousands of different species of gnat alone, and the larvae of gnats look like the larval form of other members of the suborder Nematocera (which in addition to gnats includes insects like mosquitoes and midges, and actually moth flies too), so there are a staggering number of different possible identifications.
So, unfortunately, we can’t identify exactly what our reader found, but they look a bit like moth fly larvae, and they also look like gnat larvae. Both of these are members of the suborder Nematocera, so he perhaps found the larval form of some member of the suborder, but that is as specific as we’ll get.