“I found this tiny, skinny little thing on my shorts after coming home from a run,” says this reader, who asks if we can identify the worm-like creature. Although it is difficult to tell from the photograph, which was taken at a distance from the worm, the creature appears to be a dark color (perhaps a black or dark brown), with a thin, elongated body.
Our reader mentions that the shorts she found the worm on had previously been lying on a spare bed for a few weeks before use. We appreciate that our reader came to us with this question, but given how difficult it is to make out the finer details of the worm’s physical characteristics, we will not be able to identify the worm with 100% certainty. What we can say is that the worms that one typically finds on clothing or beds — that are there because textiles are a source of food for them — include clothes moth larvae and carpet beetle larvae. The proportions of this worm’s length to its thickness do not match up with the bodies of either clothes moth larvae (which are stouter) or carpet beetle larvae, which are more ovate, as well as hairy (though not always).
So, assuming that this worm is not a clothes-eating pest, our best guess is that this is some type of caterpillar. Its minuscule size and body shape suggests that this could be an inchworm, which is a general term for caterpillars which lack legs in the center of their bodies and thus arch their bodies as they walk and ‘inch’ their way forward, though there is some debate as to what really constitutes an inchworm. It is not unlikely that, if our reader passed under a tree on her run, a caterpillar simply fell on her from an overhanging branch. Likewise, caterpillars have been known to occasionally wander into homes, either accidentally or in search of shelter, during the summer, so perhaps it just crawled onto our reader’s shorts on the bed during the time it was lying there.
To conclude, it is unclear what it is that our reader found on her shorts, though our hypothesis is that it is a caterpillar, simply because of its size and body shape, and given the fact that our reader found it on her person after having been outside. If our reader thinks it might be something else and wants us to have another go at identifying the creature, she is welcome to send more pictures that are taken closer to the worm, at a good resolution, so that way we can discern its characteristics. Otherwise, we hope that this article, though not providing a concrete conclusion, was helpful to some degree!