A reader recently sent us two photos of a pink specimen she noticed crawling across the comforter on her bed. She is curious about what kind of creature it is. The first photograph shows the worm-like organism on a piece of tape. The dorsal side of its body is a pale pink color, the ventral side of its body is off-white, and it has a dark brown head. We count 3 prolegs, but it might have more that we can’t see:
We are confident that this is a palm flower moth larva. This caterpillar (caterpillar is a general name for the larvae of moths and butterflies) eats plants in the palm family and is found in parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona (we don’t know where our reader is writing to us from.) Palm flower caterpillars usually live outside, but readers do occasionally discover these specimens inside their homes. These caterpillars typically pupate (undergo their transformation into moths) inside the bark of palm trees, but if they are knocked outside of the tree, they might sneak into a home to complete this process.
So, how should this reader (or any reader who finds a palm flower moth larvae in their home) handle the situation? First, she should stay calm! These caterpillars are not household pests, which means they won’t destroy her home and they aren’t harmful or dangerous. Since she only found one creature, she can simply place it back outside. If she is worried about it crawling on her bed, she can wash her bedding, but like we said, these caterpillars aren’t harmful.
If she wants to prevent future visits from these caterpillars and other organisms, she can take a few steps to make her home less inviting. First, she can investigate her doors, windows, and vents for any gaps or cracks that could be entryways for small creatures. After she seals these, she can sweep up and clear away any debris around the perimeter of her home. Finally, she can install a dehumidifier into her home to make her home less hospitable for specimens that prefer humidity (most worm-like organisms do!)
In summary, one of our readers discovered a palm flower moth larva on her bed. This caterpillar is harmless, so our reader doesn’t need to dwell on its presence.