A reader wrote to us recently about some tiny brown worms that “came from behind the ceiling.” The brown worms, which are only about three millimeters long, fell onto her bed, which is why the reader speculates they came from the ceiling. It is unclear how many worms she has found, but “2 or 3 worms at a time” landed on her bed, so evidently this has happened multiple times. It is as if her ceiling has a worm leak, although this is perhaps an indelicate way to put the matter since the reader is quite concerned about the creatures. Indeed, she hasn’t slept in her bed in almost a week because of the ceiling worms. The reader asked us if we can help her with “this” (she didn’t specify any precise questions), so we’ll try our best to figure out what she found and identify ways to address the problem.
The reader sent a couple of photos of the worms she found, so we’ll begin with these:
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The two images don’t appear to depict the exact same kind of creature, but we assume this is simply a lighting issue.
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Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine what our reader might have found, and in fact all we can say with confidence is that she is finding larvae, not worms, at least as we define the word “worm.” This hardly limits the range of possible creatures that might be in her ceiling, but at least it means she is likely finding the immature form of an insect. If she finds an adult, it will be easier to identify, and then she can look for remedies to address her precise pest problem.
We are tempted to leave the matter there, but we feel compelled to offer a couple of tentative remarks about what she might have found. To begin, the creatures she found look vaguely like carpet beetle larvae, which are common household pests, and are by far the creatures we receive the most questions about. Carpet beetle larvae are generally larger, and the hairs on their bodies tend be more noticeable, but perhaps our reader is finding young larvae that just recently emerged from the egg, which could explain their small size, and the fact their body features (e.g., elongated hairs from their posterior end) haven’t fully come into being. If our reader did by chance find these creatures, she might want to consult our article about how to get rid of carpet beetle larvae. The biggest issue with this suggestion is that we have never heard of carpet beetle larvae coming out of a ceiling. They tend to remain out of sight, in dark corners and under furniture. Indeed, this is true of a lot of pests, and in any case a ceiling is kind of a bizarre place to find a collection of larvae. Moths will occasionally lay eggs on a ceiling, but the larvae our reader found don’t look like moth larvae, which are just caterpillars.
Unfortunately, that is all we can about our reader’s situation. She seems to have found larvae, not worms, and thus she should stay on the lookout for adult insects in her home to help with her identification efforts. For now, we would urge our reader not become too alarmed about what she found. She doesn’t appear to have any sort of serious infestation on her hands, and she might just be dealing with a few larvae that were born in a strange ceiling environment and will die out shortly.