The Mystery Behind Maggots On Ceiling

It’s an unusual sight to see maggots crawling up the walls and on the ceilings. 

You’ve always known that these maggots belong to trash bins and rotting food. 

So, how can these tiny white worms crawl on the ceiling? 

The fact is that the maggot on the ceiling isn’t a maggot. It’s a moth larva. 

Maggots and moth larvae are two different worms.

To unlock the mystery of both, let’s get into the differences between the two. 

Indian Meal Moth Larvae Vs. Maggots

The fly maggot is the larval stage of house flies. The moth larva is the larval stage of the Indian meal moths. 

You see these tiny white worms in your home when they are in the larval stage. It’s before the pupae stage.

The pupae stage is when the larva builds a cocoon to hide to transform from a worm into an adult with wings.

When it becomes an adult, it breaks out of the cocoon. That’s the only similarity between the moth larva and the fly maggots.

The process is as same as the transition from caterpillar to butterflies.

So, what’re the differences between the two?

The difference between a maggot and moth larvae is that the moth larvae have legs, but the maggots don’t. 

As the Indian meal moth has legs, it can crawl on the vertical walls and ceilings.

But the fly maggots can barely leave the trash bin or their dwelling place till they turn into adults. They wiggle to move, but as they don’t have legs, they can’t climb walls. 

The next difference is the size. 

Indian meal moths’ larvae are larger than the house fly maggot. 

The size of Indian meal moth larvae is ½ an inch, whereas the maggot’s size is ¼ of an inch, but if it gets enough food it can grow up to ½ an inch. 

Another noticeable difference is the color difference. 

The Indian meal moth larvae are pinkish or greenish. The fly maggot is whitish or cream.

The Indian meal moth larvae have a prominent brown head. But the fly maggot doesn’t have that feature, and its head is barely noticeable. 

But if you observe closely, you would find a tiny little black dot at one end of the maggot, its mouth. 

The next time when you spot a pinkish white worm crawling on the wall or up the ceiling, then be sure that it’s not a maggot. 

It’s the larvae of the Indian meal moth.

So, this brings us to your next question, how the moth larvae enter your home?

How Moth Larvae Enter Your Home?

Maggots on ceiling

Well, blame it on the adult Indian meal moth.

Adult Indian meal moths enter your home through open windows or doors to lay eggs in your food pantry. 

They look for foods like cereals, nuts, and grains in your kitchen pantry to lay eggs.

The jaws of the Indian meal moths are strong. To lay eggs, they can also chew through plastic Tupperware to sneak inside. 

Artificial lights attract Indian meal moths. So, they’re likely to enter your home after sunset when the lights are on. 

The second way Indian meal moth larvae enter your home is through the food packets you buy from grocery stores. 

Rice bags, cereal packets, and other types of grains and dry foods lying around in grocery stores for months can have Indian meal moth larvae inside them. 

Once the female Indian meal moth lays the eggs, she leaves the infested food.

After the eggs hatch, larvae come out. The larva survives on the food it was born. It even poops on it!

When the larva is about to enter the pupae stage, it abandons the food and looks for a place to spin itself into a silken cocoon. 

That’s why they crawl on the walls, ceilings, and floor, looking for a gap where it can safely hide for 4-10 days. 

After 4-10 days, adult Indian meal moth breaks out of the cocoon. And its first job after coming out is to mate. 

So, when you see a moth larva on the ceiling, it means that it’s looking for a place to hide. These moth larvae sometimes also fall from the roof when they lose their grip.

How To Get Rid Of Indian Meal Moth Larvae?

Now that you know the mystery behind the maggots crawling on the ceiling (which are moth larvae) let’s look at how you can get rid of them if you find them.

Indian meal moth larvae originate from the kitchen or food pantry.

Here’s how you can get rid of Indian Moth larvae in 3 steps –

Step # 1 – Remove Any Stale Food Or Dry Foods, Cereals, Grains From Your Kitchen 

Is there any stale or dry food that’s lying around in your pantry for months? And you don’t eat them?

Dispose of them if you don’t need them. 

But if you need those dry foods or grains, scatter them on a piece of cloth, and keep them in direct sunlight. 

Moth larvae need moisture and don’t prefer direct sunlight. Once you expose these foods to direct sunlight, the moth larvae will leave the food. 

Wash these dry foods or food grains in normal water.

Dry them up in direct sunlight and keep them in thick airtight containers. 

Step # 2 – Clean Your Kitchen And Food Pantry To Get Rid Of Any Moth Larvae Hiding Inside

The second step is to clean your kitchen and your kitchen cabinets. 

A slow vacuum cleaning is all you need to do. 

After cleaning, use a disinfectant to wipe clean the kitchen and food pantry’s surface. 

A good quality disinfectant will repel the adult Indian meal moths even if they enter your home. 

Step # 3 – Seal Of Any Cracks And Gaps On Your Home’s Walls And Ceilings

If there are any gaps on your home’s walls and ceilings, then seal them off with a quality sealant. 

These gaps might have pupae. Sealing these gaps will ensure that the adult Indian meal moths won’t be able to come out. 


The maggots that you see crawling on the ceiling or walls are not maggots per se. They’re the larvae of the Indian meal moths. 

Maggots are larvae of house flies. They’re smaller in size than the Indian meal moth larvae. 

The significant difference between the maggots and the moth larvae is that the moth larvae have legs. These legs enable the moth larvae to crawl on the walls and ceilings. 

Here’s the summary of differences between Indian meal moth larvae and maggots.

Moth Larvae Vs. Maggots

These larvae have hatched out from the eggs that the adult Indian meal moths have laid inside your kitchen. 

To know more about why adult Indian meal moths lay eggs in your kitchen and how to get rid of them, read our post here

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