Maggots on the Ceiling?

13 July, 2008

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 at the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre.

Comments (28)

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Justin 5 June, 2009 00:54
you can always eat them
Lisa 7 April, 2010 23:45
I just found them in my kitchen & I'am totally grossed out.I want them gone A.S.A.P.The little Moths that lay there lava everywhere & those flies that drop maggots as soon as u don't put that food into the fridge.What can i put in my pantry 2 control these little moths & their offspring maggots. HELP!!
Discovery Centre 13 April, 2010 14:23

Hi Lisa,

If you follow the advice in the text you should minimise the chances of Indian Meal Moths surviving and increasing in numbers in your home. The Museum can't advise on pest control as we are not involved in this field. You would need to decide if you wanted to use chemicals near your food. If you make sure there is no chance for the moths to gain access to a food source they should not be able to survive. Good Luck.

Anne 28 December, 2010 12:25
I found these maggot looking things in my sons bedroom carpet.They are offwhite whith a brown head and two brown spots on the end of them,they are in a brown like cocoon about 1cm long. Are they meal moths as well?
Discovery Centre 29 December, 2010 15:37

Hi Anne, if you can take a photo and send it in, we will have the entomologist take a look and try to identify the critters.  Alternatively, you can collect some and drop them into the Discovery Centre, please quote your enquiry number, DC ENQ 5739.

Smalls 19 May, 2015 08:00
I found worms in my camper toilet , that I stay in. What could they be?
Carmen 15 April, 2011 04:14
To whom it may concern, I have the larvae of moths in my home. Can you describe how the mass webbing looks like because I can't locate it anywhere. If I destroy that it would stop the infestation. I have spotted a couple of moth around. Thank you. Carmen
Discovery Centre 17 April, 2011 15:21
Hi Carmen - If you have a look at the Indian Meal Moth entry in the Pests and Diseases Image Library, you'll see some sample images of the larvae and webbing, which might help you identify any infestation in your home.
Pauline 26 July, 2011 11:11
What an excellent resource. Thank you for your informative website. I am now heading to the pantry for a big clean up. Will also keep an eye out for moths. cheers
Amanda 1 January, 2012 07:44
I am getting ready to move and as I was cleaning out the toy box I found a little white thing that looks like a piece or rice. After looking on line Im thinking its one of these pantry worms. How the heck can it live on a piece of barbie clothing?
Lily 24 June, 2017 16:54
Because your kiddo (probably) took a cookie in there (to his/her bedroom) munching away, lol!
Discovery Centre 1 January, 2012 09:42
Hi Amanda, the Museum does have an identification service. Click here to find out how to submit a specimen.
Brittney 15 November, 2012 09:08
Thank-you! We've been having problems with moth maggots, and this was very helpful.
Selina 9 January, 2013 00:06
Hi I just randomly found one of these in my wallet. Where there is one, is there likely to be lot more??
Kyle 19 April, 2013 02:36
Thank you so much for this article. They really are nasty little things to have in/around your food. I appreciate what you all do in identifing creatures for the public
Adam 3 June, 2013 19:17
Thank you, we found these in our kitchen and traced them to an old open box of cornflakes.
Tania 6 December, 2013 12:25
I to have just discovered these maggots on my kitchen ceiling, I am now also heading to my pantry for a major detox ?????? They are driving me crazy as they are everywhere
Andrew 27 April, 2014 19:25
Thanks so much for the photo - this is what I found in my kitchen as well - I found the food (old bag of nuts) expecting flies - and behold it was full of moths. Now I understand why :)
Natalie 9 May, 2014 11:04
Thanks so much for this article. I thought we had fly maggots and I felt a little better that they were moths. But I found them in an open box of dog treats and I'm equally disgusted. Clean up in progress!
T.V. 23 November, 2014 02:47
Thanks for the information! This was quite informative as I have seen these things around.
Derek 6 March, 2015 09:38
Thanks for the article! I think I have accidentally ate a few of them before I realised the muesli I was eating was infested. Will there be any consequences to my health? Do they take in any bacteria/worms inside your body which feeds on you?
Discovery Centre 7 March, 2015 13:20
Hi Derek, I wouldn't be too concerned, eating a couple of these moth larvae by mistake shouldn't cause any serious problems.
geraldine 7 April, 2015 20:05
I just found them in my kitchen ceiling,i'm freaked out.I'm going to clean up the pantry right now.Thank you so much.
McGuire 10 November, 2015 18:06
I have been battling these critters for 3 months and have found them in unopened shrink wrapped boxes of chocolates and chocolate nut combos. also bags of rice, tried spraying the walls and ceiling with home and garden bug spray, it didn't seem to bother the maggots.
Deb 28 July, 2016 21:34
I have been getting these recently on my ceiling and walls in the kitchen and cant find any food items they are in. I do however have birds and feed them nuts and of course their seed,but they arent in the bird cage but the larvae seemingly are coming from behind my air conditioner it is a split system not sure what is attracting them to here any suggestions?
Discovery Centre 4 August, 2016 14:14
Hi Deb, it is hard to say what might be behind the air con. The best thing to do if you can't access that area is to make sure that any larvae or adults that are emerging don't have any additional food sources in the house to infest or lay eggs on. If they are feeding on something behind the air con, once that food source is exhausted it should be the end of them as long as you don't allow any new infestations in the house. So check all food sources in the house to make sure that these are secure and don't have populations of larvae or moths. 
Deb 17 September, 2016 02:58
I have these yellow maggots on my bedroom ceiling I've moved and cleaned everything but they are still appearing how can I stop them
Discovery Centre 17 September, 2016 15:54
Hi Deb, you need to try and find the source of the infestation and get rid of that. The larvae will often crawl away from the food source to pupate so if they are on the walls or ceiling in a room it doesn't mean that is where they have been feeding. Check all possible food sources to see if you can find signs of an active infestation.
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