What is Sufficient for Cleaning a Drain Properly and Controlling Bathroom Pest Populations?

“If I do have moth larvae and you say to keep drains clean and of course dry, is cleanser adequate or do we need something super duper?” asks this reader in her query about “transparent worms” she has been finding in the kitchen and bathrooms. The creature in the photograph appears to be minuscule in size, a green/gray color, and has two rows of spots going down its back.

In addition to this, our reader mentions that she brings in “garden salvia and roses” and she thinks this might have to do with the appearance of the worms. Her husband has noticed that his sink is draining slowly, and they have not had a “cleaning person” since March. “We just kinda wipe out the sinks. Help?” our reader concludes her submission with. There are a couple of things here this article will unpack: 1) Whether or not one needs something “super duper”, or merely “adequate”, to clean sinks. 2) If bringing in garden salvia and roses has anything to do with the discovery of these worm-like creatures. 3) What is the worm in the photograph?

Firstly, wiping down one’s sinks with a cleanser is not sufficient to eliminate or control infestations of any creature that might crawl up one’s drain. The problem is that any creature that crawls up one’s drain in search of food (drain fly larvae, midge fly larvae, tubifex worms, etc) will find one’s sink because the drains are not clean, not because the surface of the sink is not clean. As a side note, we wonder what article our reader is referring to when she relates finding moth larvae to us stating one should keep their drains “clean and dry”, as there are no moth larvae we are aware of that crawl up people’s drains. Perhaps she is referring to our many articles discussing drain fly larvae, in which we usually state that drain flies are often mistaken for moths? Additionally, it is virtually impossible to keep a drain dry, provided one is consistently using the given sink/toilet/shower/bath, and again we wonder which of our articles our reader is referring to that would have stated otherwise.

Now, in order to clean one’s drains properly, one can use bleach, a concentrated mix of baking soda and vinegar, or some other equally strong remedy. Before using any such solution, one should first pour boiling water down the drain. Then, pour the solution, plug the drain, wait for 10-15 minutes, and finally pour more boiling water down the drain. When infestations of drain fly larvae or other critters occur, one may have to repeat this process several times a week for at least two weeks. One should also be scraping out the organic film that builds in drains after a period of neglect, as this is the breeding ground for drain fly larvae, and also contributes to attracting other creatures that feed on decomposing organic matter. Although our reader’s drains have not suffered neglect in terms of usage (as far as we know), they have not been properly cleaned since March, so it makes sense that worms have started crawling up the drains.

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Secondly, bringing in garden salvias and roses would not have anything to do with worms that crawl up one’s drains. If one has drain fly larvae, midge fly larvae, or any other kind of bathroom pest, they will most likely have appeared there by coming up the drain, and not from the outdoors. This is because the primary diet of those critters is decaying organic debris and algae, and not flowers and plants. For example, in the case of the midge fly larva, this creature is aquatic, and so its natural habitat is at the bottom of a body of water, such as a pond or lake, and not in the garden or flower market. Taking all of this into account brings us to our next point about the identity of the creature photographed above; bringing in garden salvias and roses may not have anything to do with the appearance of bathroom pests, but it can introduce other unwanted critters into the home.

Finally, it is our opinion that the creature in the photo our reader sent us is neither drain fly larva, midge fly larva, tubifex worm, nor any other kind of worm-like creature that tends to crawl up one’s drains. To us, this looks like a butterfly or moth caterpillar, and although it is difficult to tell because of the far-away shot, poor lighting and low resolution, this critter looks particularly like a tersa sphinx caterpillar. These moths are found in the mid-to-Eastern states and feed on the nectar of various flower species. Although the caterpillar’s range of flowers is mostly limited to various buttonplant species, and star clusters, it is not impossible to suggest that these could be brought in on garden salvias and roses. However, as we said, it is difficult to tell exactly what the creature in our reader’s photograph looks like, but ultimately it does not matter if it is specifically a tersa sphinx caterpillar. What matters is that it does not look like a worm that is known to crawl up people’s drains. So, what our reader needs to really pay attention to now is whether or not all of the worms she and her husband have found have looked like this one in the photograph. If they do not, then it is more likely they are drain fly larvae or some other pest, but if they do, then she may be dealing with an infestation of a different kind. It could be that a mother tersa sphinx moth simply laid her eggs in our reader’s home, and that spawned the apparent infestation of these larvae.

To conclude, using a cleanser to wipe out a sink is not sufficient for cleaning a drain, so our reader will need something more “super duper” than what she has been applying thus far. The real question here is what type of worm-like creature our reader has actually been finding in her home; are they even a drain pest at all? If our reader has anything more to add, or can tell us what the rest of the larvae have looked like, she is welcome to share anything with us in the comments section below. Otherwise, we wish her the best of luck with controlling this potential infestation!

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What is Sufficient for Cleaning a Drain Properly and Controlling Bathroom Pest Populations?
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What is Sufficient for Cleaning a Drain Properly and Controlling Bathroom Pest Populations?
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"If I do have moth larvae and you say to keep drains clean and of course dry, is cleanser adequate or do we need something super duper?" asks this reader in her query about "transparent worms" she has been finding in the kitchen and bathrooms. The creature in the photograph appears to be minuscule in size, a green/gray color, and has two rows of spots going down its back.
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