We received a question via the All About Worms Facebook page about some extremely small larvae, or what seem to be larvae, that a reader found on her desk and chair. We use the descriptors “tiny” and “extremely small” for a reason – the larvae are nearly microscopic, and it would take an attentive eye to even notice them crawling around. They are probably only about a millimeter or so in length. The reader was quite alarmed by what she found, and emphasized her concern with the multiple question marks and exclamation points she used to conclude her question, which concerned identification. So, we are tasked with identifying the tiny larvae on the reader’s desk and chair.
Here is the picture the reader sent along with her question:
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The pen provides helpful scale, and, once more, these larvae are obviously quite small. It is helpful to have this picture, but their size does present certain challenges for us because essentially all we can see are two dark, elongated dots. We certainly can’t fault the reader for this because she probably couldn’t have submitted a more detailed, up-close image, but on the basis of this picture, it is very hard to say what these larvae are.
The most promising suggestion we can offer is that our reader is finding flea larvae, which are in fact extremely small, in the range of what is pictured above. Generally, they have a light-colored body, but some are of a slightly darker hue, and in any case it isn’t really clear what color the creatures above are. They look dark, but perhaps this is only because of the lighting in the picture.
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The presence of fleas and flea larvae in a home can generally be attributed to a dog or other pet, who are susceptible to flea infestation, either from other pets or from the environment. If a dog has fleas, it is fairly common to find larvae anywhere the dog is. Presumably, this doesn’t include the reader’s chair and desk, but the larvae could have been spread from another part of the house to her desk area. However, we have no idea if our reader even has a pet, and this fact is of course relevant to how we assess the likelihood of the “flea larvae” hypothesis, for lack of a more normal way of putting it.
If the reader has a dog or other pet, and it does in fact have fleas, it will obviously need treatment – besides causing discomfort, fleas are a major source of tapeworm infection – but we must emphasize again that we don’t know what our reader found. She may have only some harmless larvae that are making a one-time appearance. Larvae this small probably can’t bite or cause harm to human skin, so they aren’t a threat in this way. It’s always good to eliminate larvae around the house because they can carry harmful bacteria, but it is not as if coming into incidental contact with a couple is a cause for major concern. This is true even if our reader is finding flea larvae. The types of fleas that infest cats and dogs won’t infest humans. The adult fleas can bite humans, but we’ve never heard of the larvae doing this. So, once more, the fact that our reader found a few larvae shouldn’t cause her to panic, although she might need to address her pet’s flea issue, if she even has a pet, and if this pet has fleas.
Unfortunately, we can’t provide more definite advice, but hopefully we’ve helped our reader in some way.