“I live in South Carolina, and woke up this morning to dozens of these”, states this reader concerning the white larva-like creature pictured below. “What are they, how can I get rid of them and prevent them in the future?” she asks.
“We have a puppy who plays in the area they seem to be coming from, and two plants”, she adds. “I did not see any worms on the plant soil or containers. Our rugs are wool. About two weeks ago, our pup found an old bone, now his favorite, and that bone also lived in that area. We had a bunch of flies that came in and out, mostly staying in, because the door there opens lots because the pup wants to go in and out. None seen near the pantry or where we keep his dog food.”
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Based on the context our reader provided, as well as the photo, we think that the creatures she found are clothes moth larvae. Clothes moth larvae are the caterpillars of any species of moth whose offspring feed on organic materials, mostly those present in textiles, hence the name. Such materials include cotton, wool, silk, leather, and feathers, and one can find them in their clothes, on upholstery, on bed sheets and pillows, and more.
Clothes moth larvae are not harmful to humans or pets, so our reader needs not worry for herself or her dog.
The most common clothes moth larvae are webbing clothes moth larvae and casemaking clothes moth larvae. The larvae look very similar, so it is difficult to say exactly what our reader found. Regardless, the methods for getting rid of them are the same.
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To get rid of clothes moth infestations, one must vacuum all infected areas (if not the entire home to be safe) multiple times a week for a minimum of two weeks. In between the vacuuming, one should also launder any textiles that are even partially organic in make. This may also have to be repeated if organisms are still found after this period of two weeks. Vacuuming and laundering are the most important steps, as this will eliminate any roaming larvae and eggs.
Now, to prevent future infestations, there are a few things one can do. Firstly, one can store any unused garments and textiles made from organic materials in vacuum-sealed bags (or cold vaults). Secondly, one should make sure that one’s window screens are in good condition, meaning there are no bug-sized holes in them. Thirdly, one should seal any cracks in flooring and walling where possible. Lastly, if one discovered a moth in their home, it is always best to let it outside, as infestations such as this start because the moth flies in and lays her eggs inside the home. The reason our reader found dozens of these larvae, all at the same time, was likely because of this.
In conclusion, the white worms our reader found are clothes moth larvae. They are not harmful, so she needs not worry about that. However, infestations of them can cause damage to the organically made items in one’s home, so it is best to tackle the infestation as soon as one discovers it. We hope this article helps and we wish her the very best of luck!