Sunday, August 07, 2011

Household casebearer

case bearer
Ever see these things around your house?

Case bearer
They look like little gray seeds, laying innocently among the dirt and stuff on your porch or patio.

case bearer
They have tiny caterpillars inside.

case bearer
This is the larva of the case bearing moth, Phereoeca uterella, and right now I am finding them around my house.

From their BugGuide page:

The larval case is silk-lined inside and open at both ends. The case is constructed by the earliest larval stage (1st instar) before it hatches, and is enlarged by each successive instar. In constructing the case, the larva secretes silk to build an arch attached at both ends to the substrate. Very small particles of sand, soil, iron rust, insect droppings, arthropod remains, hairs and other fibers are added on the outside. The inside of the arch is lined exclusively by silk, and is gradually extended to form a tunnel, while the larva stays inside. The tunnel is closed beneath by the larva to form a tube free from the substrate, and open at both ends. After the first case is completed, the larva starts moving around, pulling its case behind. With each molt, the larva enlarges its case. Later cases are flattened and widest in the middle, allowing the larva to turn around inside.

[from Featured Creatures, U. of Florida]

They eat spider webs, of all things, but will also eat wool things like carpets and clothing if the opportunity arises (like if the moths get into the house!)  I also seem to recall reading somewhere that they like to eat dog hair, which I have plenty of around the house.


  1. Take all your spare dog hair out kinda far from the house and maybe they will stay away from trying to get in!!! hehehehe.

  2. I have similar in Australia, both in Sydney and Queensland, I have seen them Cindy,
    But the ones I have encountered and sometimes rescued from Ants, build their portable house from small twigs, and suction themselves to timber most times.
    Apologies for not knowing name, or preferred eating habits... when I discover will let you know.
    Good wishes from Magda in Australia

  3. hmmmm, i'll have to keepmy eye out for them...
    but i have seen another odd looking looks like a tiny pile of dried grass...or cut up leaves...

    thanks for the info!! and the cool pictures!!

  4. AT last an answer! I always wondered what these things were. Mrs. W

  5. Today I was sitting outside and something landed on my ankle. It kind of looks like that above, but it looked more like a wood chip or something. So I flicked it off and I immediately started bleeding. Not a lot, but it looked as if it took a minuscule chunk of my skin. I put peroxide on it and it's not swollen or anything. It stun for a bit right after it happened. Is it poisonous? What happened?

    1. Anon, I really don't know what bit you. I can't imagine what kind of bug resembles a wood chip and bites chunks (albeit minuscule) out of people! Could it possibly have been a tick? Were you anywhere near tall grass where ticks normally hang out, waiting for a blood host to brush by so they can latch on? Next time, if you can temper your concern with a bit more curiosity, maybe you could take a picture of the little bugger.


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