A reader recently reached out to us from Florida. She asked, “What are these? I found them hanging from threads on the ceiling.” She wonders if it is necessary to call an exterminator, or if this is an isolated occurrence.
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We believe these are moth larvae. On many occasions, readers have found these tiny black worms hanging from their walls and ceilings by thin strands. We don’t think our reader needs to call an exterminator to deal with these creatures, as thorough cleaning should do the trick.
As we mentioned above, we believe our reader is dealing with moth larvae. We think they are probably geometer moth larvae, a.k.a. inchworms! Some species of inchworms can produce silk, so the thread-like strands the specimens are hanging from are likely pieces of silk.
So, how did these larvae end up in our reader’s home? Like most larvae, inchworms eat decaying organic material. Adult geometer moths typically lay their eggs in or near a food source so that when the eggs hatch the larvae can start eating right away. These larvae likely hatched from eggs that were lain somewhere on our reader’s ceiling. A geometer moth could have deposited her eggs on the remains of a dead bug or some other decaying organic material.
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Getting rid of these larvae will just require some cleaning! Our reader can start by sweeping away the larvae and the silk they are hanging from. Then she should scrub the ceilings and walls to eliminate whatever decaying organic material attracted the moth in the first place. To prevent future visits from inchworms and other small creatures, we recommend that our reader check to make sure her windows and doors are properly sealed and screened. She can also seal up any cracks between doors, walls, and ventilation systems. This will eliminate small entryways for worm-like organisms.
To conclude, we believe the small black worms our reader noticed hanging from her ceiling are inchworms! These larvae are harmless and can be eliminated by cleaning…there is no need for her to call an exterminator!