A reader from Scotland recently sent us this message, “I woke up this morning to find these worm-type creatures hanging from my light shade in the bedroom and falling rather quickly to the ground! It almost looked like a nest at the bottom of the light shade, can you shed a bit of light on these for me please? What are they? Why would they be here? And how can I prevent these from coming back? I have now removed the light shade but could they be other places?” He sent us a photograph of the light shade and the mysterious creatures:
The specimens in the picture aren’t obvious, but if you look hard you can make out dozens of tiny brown creatures hanging along the left hand side of the shade. They look a bit like brown cupcake sprinkles. Although the organisms are too small to note any details of, we still think we know what these are. We believe our reader has discovered inchworms.
Inchworms are geometer moth larvae, which technically means they are caterpillars. While there are about 20,000 species of caterpillars around the world, about 1,000 of these are different species of inchworms. Inchworms have specific physical characteristics which make them easier to identify than some other caterpillars. They have prolegs near their head and near their tail end, but no legs in the middle. This allows them to walk by first clasping their front legs onto something and then moving their back forward. Next, they clasp their back legs down and reach their front legs forward to clasp onto something new. They create a loop with their body when they move, which explains one of their many nicknames: loopers (they are also called spanners, measuring worms, and cankerworms.) In addition to having a unique way of moving around, inchworms spin silk, which they can hang from. Many readers have found these larvae hanging from their ceilings or other high points in their homes.
We don’t know why these inchworms have appeared in our reader’s home, but we can offer some advice on what to do. We recommend he begin by cleaning off the light shade. As long as he doesn’t find these inchworms in other places around his house, we don’t think he needs to stress about them. There are a few steps he can take to make his home less hospitable to inchworms and other creatures. First, he can dust and sweep his home regularly to get rid of anything that could be serving as a food source for small organisms. In addition, he can check to make sure all of his windows and doors are properly sealed and screened so that there are no tiny entryways for small creatures to sneak in through. Finally, he can clear leaf litter and other debris from the perimeter of his home, which should limit the number of specimens crawling near his home that might accidentally sneak in through an open door or window.
To conclude, one of our readers discovered tiny brown worms hanging from the light shade in his bedroom. We are confident that these are inchworms. They are not dangerous, harmful, or considered to be household pests so we don’t think our reader needs to worry about the presence of these creatures.