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Ask the Orkin Man

What are these milky-colored worms with reddish-orange heads?

Question: We recently noticed weird worm/larvae type things in our house, mostly on our couch and chair. Last night we noticed them on our curtains and TV as well as cocoons on the curtain. They are less than an inch long, milky color with red/orange heads—any idea what this is and how to get rid of it? I am washing all of my curtains and furniture and carpets this weekend. Any input would be great.

 

ANSWER: What you may possibly have are Indian meal moths—the caterpillar stage. The adult moth is brown and tan colored, and the caterpillars are usually a dirty beige, but they can also range from green to pink. The caterpillars may appear to be maggots because of their pale color. These caterpillars also have a somewhat darker orange head. The problem is that another moth has a very similar looking larva, the webbing clothes or carpet moth (or tapestry moth).

The caterpillars of the Indian meal moths infest stored food materials, such as flour, meal, mixes, cereal, spices, birdseed, dry pet food, dry flowers and other similar material. You can identify the infested material by the silken webbing over the surface of the food. The caterpillars often move out and crawl on walls and the ceiling when they are ready to change into adult moths.

The adult moths live for about three weeks, and can persist after the caterpillars have been controlled.

The best control method is to remove everything from the kitchen cabinets. Inspect all of the packages and discard any food that is infested. Then vacuum the area very well. After vacuuming, replace the material and vacuum again in about a week. Inspect items your are bringing home from the store. As much as possible store food in sealed containers.

The caterpillar of the clothes moth consumes primarily wool products, but also feathers as well as leather. They have been known to damage cotton, silk, linen and synthetic materials as a result of feeding on natural materials. Look for feeding tunnels on the fabrics, especially in dark hidden areas.

For these fabric moths vacuuming, dry cleaning, heat treatments and so on are good approaches.

As you see, your problem could easily be some different pests. A highly trained Orkin Pest Specialist can come to your home and conduct a thorough inspection, assess the situation and use specialty traps to aid in the identification of the pests. Your Orkin Pest Specialist can develop a customized treatment plan based on science which best fits your needs. Call you local Orkin Branch Office to set up an inspection today.

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