Question: These maggots have recently appeared on our kitchen ceiling. They are quite sticky and very active. Are you able to identify them and advise what we should do about them if more appear?
Maggots on the ceiling
Photographer/Source: Richard Clivaz
Answer: The “maggots” in your photograph are actually the larvae of a moth, most probably the Indian Meal Moth. We would need to examine the larvae under a microscope to confirm this.
The Indian Meal Moth is one of the pest species which feed on stored food products. If it is this species (or another species of stored food product pest) and you would like to be rid of them, you will need to find and destroy the source of the infestation.
Check for any open or damaged food products in the pantry – the moth larvae may be feeding on flour, corn, broken grains, seeds, powdered milk, cereals, chocolate, biscuits, dried fruits, nuts, dog foods, etc. The larvae of some species produce mats of webbing over the food products which should make an infestation obvious.
Once you have disposed of any infested food, you should also make sure that you have cleaned up any spilled food and that all of your remaining food products are stored in sealed containers. This will prevent a reinfestation: if there are adult moths flying around in your house, they will be looking for somewhere to lay their eggs.
You will need to check all rooms of the house for possible food sources such as dog food in a laundry. The larvae can move away from where they have been feeding when they are ready to pupate (which is probably what they were doing on your ceiling), so if you find them in one room it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where they have been feeding.
We would be happy to identify any adult moths or larvae you have. Call the Discovery Centre at MelbourneMuseum on 8341 7111 for instructions on how to get specimens to us. The Discovery Centre is open between 10am and 4:30pm seven days a week. Entry is free.