5 Signs That You're Looking at a Maggot

Maggots can be a serious problem. If left on their own, they can multiply exponentially, with a very short time between their birth and spawning the next generation. For this reason, finding maggots quickly is very important. Here are some ways you can tell if you have a maggot problem.

1. Color

Maggots are easy to identify by color, because they are all white. Don't be fooled if they aren't a perfect white color, however. Maggots can come in a variety of shades. They can be pure white, or white with a yellow or gray tint. They can also have small markings at one end, or be slightly translucent. However, at a glance, all maggots will appear to be more white than any other color.

2. Shape

Maggots have a very distinct shape. They are tube shaped, with no legs and few other features. Maggots have one blunt end which contains their mouth parts. These are only visible if examined closely, and are usually too small to see at all. The other end of a maggot tapers to a sharp point, and may be patterned or slightly darker. They can be as long as 1/2 inch, but are usually closer to 1/4 inch long.

3. Texture

You might not want to touch a maggot, but their texture is a good way to help identify them. Give one a couple of pokes with a stick or watch it move to see how it is built. Maggots are soft, without an exoskeleton or any way of keeping a firm shape. Though they might be visibly segmented, they should have no hard exterior or separate body parts.

4. Food

Maggots are born from eggs laid by flies, who always lay eggs directly in a food source for their maggots. As a result, any maggots you find will always be in rotting material. Many kinds of rotting material can become a home for maggots. Their most common home and source of food is rotting garbage — either plant matter, carrion, or discarded human food. However, many types of garden maggot can make a home in the roots of plants. In some cases, an untreated wound on an animal or human can become the home of a maggot infestation.

Occasionally, you can find a maggot on its own, in the middle of nowhere. This means that it has eaten enough, and it has travelled away from its food source to become an adult fly. This scenario is much worse, because it means there is a supply of rotting garbage full of maggots nearby that you have not found yet.

5. Location

For the same reason you will rarely find maggots without a source of food, you will also rarely find them in an exposed place. Flies prefer to lay their eggs in dark, damp, enclosed areas. If you find maggots, it will likely be in an out-of-the-way spot, such as under a rock, at the bottom of a dumpster or even underneath your carpet.