Worms in an Ice Machine

A little while ago, a reader wrote to us about worms in an ice machine, by which he meant the type of machine you might find in a break room at an office or in a restaurant kitchen. The reader didn’t see the worms in the ice machine himself, but merely heard a report of worms being there, and so he was wondering if it is even possible to find a worm in an ice machine. If it is possible, he further wondered, how did the worms get into the ice machine? The reader didn’t express interest in what type of worm might be in the machine (if it even is a worm – it might be a maggot, as we shall see), but we’ll have to speculate on this matter in the course of answering our reader’s precise questions.

We say we’ll have to “speculate” on the worm-identification matter because the reader’s question was short on details. He didn’t even see the worm (or whatever it may be) in question, and in fact he was skeptical of its very existence. Consequently, we have absolutely no details about the creature that was found – we don’t know its size, shape, color, etc., and we also don’t know where the reader is located. (Some creatures are more common than others in different parts of the world.) Finally, it would be nice to know more about the ice machine, particularly if it is broken and therefore not fully freezing the ice it is making and/or storing.

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This last point is key – if the ice machine has a pool of water in it because of partially unfrozen ice, this might make it a suitable environment for maggots, which are not worms, but rather the larvae of flies. You might think it’s questionable to leap to this conclusion with such little information, but we have two reasons for doing so: one, we need to come up with some hypothesis, and, two, we have, surprisingly enough, actually answered a question before about maggots in an ice machine. (We’ve been in the game for a while, so we’ve covered a lot of ground.)

As we explain in this previous article, an ice machine isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a maggot, which generally thrive in moist, warm environments (and hence those disturbing pictures of tens of thousands of maggots devouring animal carcasses that one occasionally has the misfortune of coming across). However, flies will often lay their eggs in stagnant water if it left undisturbed. These eggs will quickly turn into larvae, which we call “maggots,” giving rise to the worm-sighting (or, rather, larva-sighting) in the ice machine.

Needless to say, this is merely a guess – we don’t know enough to offer anything other than a guess – but it at least has some basic plausibility, if for no other reason than that we have actually written about this exact issue before. To explicitly answer our reader’s questions: yes, it is possible for a worm (or worm-like creature) to be found in an ice machine, and if it’s a maggot, it might have gotten there in the way described above. We should say in closing that if there actually are maggots in the reader’s ice machine, he should certainly clean the machine thoroughly, and also look into decreasing its internal temperature to prevent future pools of stagnant water from accumulating.

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1 Comment

  1. David Horton

    While cleaning our ice machine today I noticed a bunch of very small “worms” as I flushed out some of the algae growth around the water tank and pump. These were about a quarter inch in length and as thich as heavy thread. They were very dark and looked like they may have had ridges or rings. It had been a while since I last cleaned the machine but it was not excessively overgrown as ice machines will sometimes get. these things were hard to kill taking a full strength dose of bleach to erradicate them. I’m curious as to what they were and how they got there. We have a very good water filter that gets changed regularly even though its good for 65k gallons. There is a drain by the tank/pump with residual water there so that must have been where they came from.

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