A Californian living on a golf course thinks she may be dealing with several different worm-related problems. She says she has been experiencing an infestation both outside and inside her house for the past two years, and describes multiple different organisms and the effects they have had on her life.
From what we could garner from our reader’s query, it seems she is dealing with four different problems, that may or may not be worm-related. She did not send in any pictures, but did give quick descriptions of each issue, and so we will do the best with what we have been given. It should first be noted, however, that two out of four of these cases have caused symptoms to our reader and her dog and are thus medical in nature. For that reason, we will not attempt to identify the latter of the four problems. This is because we are not medical professionals, and so giving an identification of a potential parasite, which has been causing a medical condition that needs treatment, would be tantamount to giving a diagnosis. That said, we will relay our reader’s description of them nonetheless.
Firstly, she describes a “brown/black fuzz like cocoons with worms” inside her carpets. To us, this sounds like our reader may be dealing with carpet beetle larvae. Carpet beetle larvae can sometimes look like “fuzz” from a distance because of the long bristles that sprout from their bodies. They can be brown or black in color, and have stripes across their body. Carpet beetle larvae feed on animal-based materials, and as their name suggests, can often be found in carpets eating away at the fiber. Infestations are highly likely and difficult to get rid of. It requires a mix of consistent and vigorous housekeeping (vacuuming infested areas and laundering infested materials) for a one-to-two week period and taking preventative measures to control and prevent infestations, such as sealing cracks in flooring, walling and window screens, as well as storing unused animal-based textiles in such a way that the larvae cannot get to them (eg: cold vaults or vacuum-sealed bags). If our reader wants more in-depth information on carpet beetle larvae specifically, she is free to check out a previous article we wrote on the subject.
Secondly, our reader describes seeing “little white worms in every thing” in her “entire house.” No further context is provided, and so we can only list a few white worms that can commonly be found in homes, and hopefully one of these will ring true with our reader. We have more clothes-eating pests, such as webbing clothes moth larvae and casemaking clothes moth larvae, both of which are likely to be found on animal-based textiles, just like the carpet beetle larva. There are Indianmeal moth larvae (or pantry moth larvae), which are larval pests of the kitchen that eat grains, dog food, cereals and more. They are often found inside the cupboards of one’s kitchen. Lastly, we have bluebottle fly larvae (maggots), which feed on food waste, and are most likely to be found in one’s trash can or compost bin, depending on what one has.
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Lastly, we have two critters, or ‘substances’ that our reader found which have resulted in our reader experiencing symptoms. For that reason, as previously stated, we will not be able to even give a guess as to what they are. The first of the two findings is a “white substance that looks like liquid sugar” and “gets very hard.” Our reader says that it is in her dog’s fur and in her own hair. It is “very sticky” and “depletes any moisture and nutrients.” The second finding is a “red rash” on our reader. She says “it burns” her skin and that it is “so much worse with the heat.” We sympathize with our reader and wish that we could do more to help. What we can do is give some advice on where our reader can go to get these issues treated.
To begin with, she can consult her doctor about her rash and the white substance in her hair (and accordingly take her dog to the vet). However, if our reader has reasonable cause to believe that these symptoms are related to any of the organisms she has found in and around her house, she may instead want to consult a parasite specialist. To find one, she can Google ‘infectious disease physician (name of her closest big city)’ or ‘travel disease doctor (name of her closest big city)’. A specialist will be able to identify these symptoms as a result of some parasite, fungi, virus or bacteria, and provide the treatment our reader requires. Additionally, bringing samples of the organisms in her home to her consultation is a good idea, as the specialist will be able to confirm or deny if they have anything to do with her medical condition(s). She can also bring samples to her local county extension office or to the entomology department at a nearby university to gather more opinions to bring to her consultation with a specialist.
In conclusion, it is not clear what our reader is dealing with, but she is clearly facing multiple issues that all need resolving so that she can lead a life free of worrying about worms and potential parasitic infections. We hope that our outline of the possible suspects of the first two organisms helps our reader reach an identification of them, and that the links will help her deal with the critters invading her home. And although we were not able to identify the issue causing her medical conditions, we hope that our advice still proves to be helpful, and that our reader can get the help she needs as soon as possible.