Imagine pulling down the sheets for a good night’s rest only to discover tiny little worm-like critters in your bed!
While this sounds like the stuff of nightmares (and many who’ve encountered bed worms will say it was), these tiny pests are one of the creepiest things you’ll find hiding in the bed beyond a full-blown bed bug infestation.
Before learning how to get rid of bed worms, it makes sense to first understand what they are. The answer might surprise you.
What Kind of Bed Worms Do I Have?
Believe it or not, the term “bed worm” is actually used to describe the larvae of several different pests. In many cases, the larvae are mostly harmless (excluding any potential psychological damage), but their adult forms are another matter.
Let’s give a quick breakdown of some common bed worms and how to deal with each.
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1. Carpet Beetle Larvae
Carpet beetles are a common pest, so it’s not unusual for their larvae to end up in your bed or clothing. These are usually carrot-shaped with brown, black, or yellow tones and long hairs. Some also have stripes.
These critters are tiny (between 1/8 and 1/4 inches long), but highly destructive. They love to snack on fabric (including both synthetic and natural fibers), feathers, fur, leather, and wool; as well as food crumbs and even the corpses of other insects.
Adult carpet beetles are known to feed on pollen but otherwise often spend their final stage of life without eating. When they do get hungry, they can sometimes be found hanging out on your potted plants.
Worst of all, carpet beetle larvae will often migrate from room to room in search of food. They can go hungry for long periods of time while searching for the perfect snack.
See Also: How to Get Rid of Bagworms
2. Clothes Moth Larvae
Moth larvae love snacking on fabric, especially old clothes that have been put in storage for long periods of time. But that doesn’t mean they won’t pop up on your bed sheets. A few different common moths have the nickname of clothes moth.
These little bed worms tend to pop up in similar conditions that attract bed bugs. Their diet includes all sorts of organic debris, including: dust, feathers, fur, hair, leather, lint, and paper.
They don’t care if your sheets are natural or synthetic. Linens which have been stained by body oils, sweat, or spilled drinks are especially attractive to them.
Most clothes moth larvae tend to be a creamy white with a brown head. They measure up to 1/2 inches long. Larvae of the webbing clothes moth leave trails of silk webbing and will line tunnels through your fabrics with silk. Note that some species of baby moths may have a more brownish appearance.
Obviously, the easiest way to identify your bed worms as moths is to identify an adult moth infestation. This greatly reduces the chances of mistaking the larvae for that of another critter.
Read Also: Getting Rid of Gypsy Moths
Heading into true nightmare territory, we run into the pinworm, which isn’t a larva, but an actual intestinal parasite. Being one of the most common parasites, they most frequently infest school-age children due to how easy it is to spread in a classroom environment.
Pinworms are thin and white, coming in at a mere 1/4 to 1/2 inches. Usually, there aren’t any obvious symptoms of a pinworm infection. In fact, the first sign is often spotting a female that slipped out into the bed or your pajamas.
Pinworms live in the anal cavity, and females emerge when the host is sleeping to lay thousands of microscopic eggs in the soft folds around the anal opening. When symptoms do occur, they may include itching around the genital and anal regions, as well as irritability, restlessness, and even stomach pain or nausea in some cases.
Because they’re a parasitic worm, you will need to see a doctor and your entire family may need to take antibiotics to eliminate the problem. However, you will also need to treat the bed space in the same way you would for other bed worms.
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4. Flea Larvae
Adult fleas look nothing like worms, but their larvae number among the many species of bed worms. Human fleas (Pulex irritans) have undergone a lot of attention recently. While you might be more familiar with a species that infests primarily cats, dogs, or rats, the human flea prefers humans.
It’s becoming an increasingly popular theory that the human flea, not the rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus) was responsible for the Black Death.
Thankfully, while bubonic plague is still out there, the larvae stage isn’t as keen on biting. Instead, their food sources include feces, non-viable eggs, and vegetable-based organic matter, with only about 12 percent of larvae reaching the adult stage on a blood-only diet.
Of course, this won’t stop you from having some sleepless nights, and it’s easy to mistake the attacks for a bed bug infestation if you don’t spot the adult fleas in your bed and aren’t paying attention to the bite pattern.
See Also: Bugs the Look Like Bed Bugs
Getting Rid of Bed Worms
Even though there are different types of bed worms out there, they can all be killed using the same methods. Here are some quick and effective methods to employ against them.
Air Your Dirty Laundry
As with most bed infestations, heat is a quick killer. Run any infested linens through the dryer on high heat to kill any present larvae and eggs. You will then likely want to put them in the wash once the larvae are dead to get rid of the corpses and any feces they left behind.
Vacuum the Bed
Rent a commercial carpet cleaner or purchase a carpet/upholstery cleaner like the Bissell SpotClean if you don’t already have one. These tools are amazing, and can clean carpets and furniture far better than any other common cleaning method out there.
As a result, you not only eliminate part of the infestation, you also have a much healthier sleeping surface. Use it on the entire bedroom to catch any stray pests.
Buy a Mattress Cover
Investing in a waterproof mattress cover, such as those designed for bed bugs, are easy to clean and make it impossible for future infestations to get into the mattress. With a mattress cover on, you can easily clean the mattress by using a warm, damp cloth or regular vacuum cleaner.
Spray Down the Cracks
Small critters like to lay eggs in tiny cracks and crevices where predators can’t reach them. You will want to use a thin pesticide spray or other product to get at these hidden caches.
We suggest mixing essential oils (peppermint and cedarwood work great) in a spray bottle and applying them over cracks, allowing them to soak in. These will usually not harm your surfaces and have a pleasant scent. Some of the places to cover include: baseboard, headboard, bedframe, and cracks in natural flooring.
Just be warned, many essential oils are poisonous to pets, so you will want to wipe the surfaces down afterwards to get rid of any accessible residue.
See Also: Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?
Eliminate the Host Infestation
Getting rid of bed worms isn’t enough. You will also need to get rid of the adult pest infestation and any young deposited elsewhere. This is why identifying the type of bed worm is important.
Once the rest of the infestation has been eliminated, be sure to take steps to reduce the risk of further infestations, such as cleaning regularly, washing bed sheets at least weekly, and closing windows at night if they don’t have screens to keep out any female moths.
In the event you purchased secondhand furniture and discovered the infestation soon after, there’s a chance you don’t have an adult infestation. In such a case, check nearby just to be sure and perhaps use an insecticide or natural remedy to bug-proof the rest of the room as preemptive pest management.