It’s the stuff of nightmares: you peel back your sheets, ready for a peaceful night of sleep, only to discover tiny black worms in bed!
Anyone who’s ever experienced this situation knows how unpleasant it is. All kinds of questions go through your mind. What are these bugs, where did they come from, and–most importantly–how do I get rid of them?
No one wants to live with these intruders longer than needed, so today, we will go over everything you need to know about tiny black worms in bed: how to identify them, where they come from, and most importantly, how to get rid of them quickly.
We’ll start with the most basic: What are those tiny worm-like bugs in bed sheets?
Read on and find out!
What Are Those Tiny Black Worms in Bed Sheets?
The first thing you should know is that there is no such thing as a “bed worm.” Instead, this term refers to the larvae of several different household pests. They crawl onto your bed in search of food. You only see bed sheets, whereas larvae see the fabric and dirt on them as a food source.
It may be comforting to know that the larvae themselves won’t cause you any physical damage (though we can’t speak to your mental state). However, their full-grown counterparts are a different story.
Here’s a quick overview of the most common culprits.
Carpet Beetle Larvae
The most likely scenario is that the tiny black worms on your bed are carpet beetle larvae. Carpet beetles are a type of pest that infests fabrics made from animal products. They love things like silk, fur, wool, and leather.
Adults take advantage of open windows in your home to lay eggs on anything made from animal products. Once the larvae hatch, they make their way onto your bed to eat the sheet’s fabric.
They’re pretty small, at just ¼ inch long, and are either black or brown with fine bristles. A select few are even orange-colored.
Aside from actually seeing the bugs, other signs of carpet beetle larvae include holes in your fabric and shed skin.
Clothes Moth Larvae
Clothing moth larvae are unsightly pests. They’ve got a white body covered with silk webbing and a brown head, and they can be up to ½ inch long.
As you’ve probably guessed from their name, clothes moth larvae are the babies of cloth moths. Their diet of choice? Fabric. They love all kinds of organic residue, like fur, dust, feathers, lint, leather, and paper. You’re most likely to see clothes moth larvae on old clothes, like anything that’s been in storage for a while. They’re also quite content to snack on your sheets.
Like carpet beetles, clothes moths fly right in through open windows, and their presence is easy to detect. They leave silk residue behind thanks to the silk webbing on their bodies. You’ll find tunnels of silk webbing on fabrics, which is the best indicator of their presence. They’re also handy climbers, and you might find their silk on the walls too.
Clothes moths are more harmful than carpet beetle larvae because they cause more damage. While they don’t transmit diseases or bite humans, an infestation can quickly destroy your animal-based fabrics. Clothes moths can also get into your food, which is why some people categorize them as pantry pests.
You can thank your furry friends for a flea larvae infestation, especially if they like to cozy up in bed with you. All it takes is Fido leaving a few adult fleas on your bed to cause the problem. These fleas are right at home in your bed, where they leave flea larvae.
Flea larvae are tiny, making them difficult to spot. Most only measure up to 0.2 inches long, and they like to hide in small places, such as the gaps in your bed. If you do happen to see one, you can recognize them by their pale hairs and off-white body. You may even think they look like tiny worms.
However, it’s much more likely that you’ll see fecal matter the flea larvae leave behind. And if you do identify them, it’s critical to get rid of them. Flea larvae prefer to suck on the blood of animals, but they won’t say no to a human host either.
Where Do Bed Worms Come From?
You’re probably wondering how these creatures got into your room in the first place.
A Dirty Bed
It’s not fun to admit, but you may inadvertently be making your bed more attractive to bed worm species. A dirty bed is a desirable pest target, but what makes a bed dirty? That’s right: eating.
Lots of people regularly enjoy meals in bed. While breakfast in bed now and then is wonderful, regularly eating leaves behind food residue and stains–both of which attract pests.
First, you have the problem of crumbs. Certain foods are impossible to eat without leaving behind crumbs, which are bad enough. But at some point, you’re likely to spill and create a stain. Carpet beetle larvae and cloth moth larvae both love food stains. They’ll eat right through the stain, leaving a large, unsightly hole. If you have silk sheets, the problem will be even worse.
The problem with a dirty bed is that you won’t just attract larvae. Adult bugs can find their way in too, and they may be attracted to other soft furniture and upholstery in your home. So it’s best to enjoy your meals at the table to keep your bed nice and tidy.
Although they add beauty to your home, your beloved house plants may be adding unwanted pests too. If you keep plants in your room, be aware that they might attract several different insect species. Bugs like to hide under the plant’s leaves and at its base. When the time comes to lay eggs, they look for warm spots–and your bed is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
We all love our furry friends, but unfortunately, they may be causing your pest problem. The most common issue is fleas, so it’s critical to address flea control with your pet’s vet. And regularly washing your pet’s bedding is another way to keep things under control.
How To Get Rid of Bed Worms Quickly
Now let’s discuss what you really want to know: how to get rid of those tiny worm-like bugs in bed. The good news? Even though there are several varieties, you can kill them all with the same methods.
Bring on the Heat
Strip your bed linens and throw them in the dryer–yep, that’s right. You want to start with heat instead first. Heat is the most effective way to kill infestations, so set your dryer to the highest setting available and put in all affected linens. It’s a good idea to run your sheets through the wash afterward. They’ll likely have corpses and residue left over.
Address the Bed
For the next step, you’ll want to rent a professional steam cleaner or carpet cleaner if you don’t have one at home. Heavy-hitting tools are the best way to get your mattress clean, and they’ll make all the difference. The high-pressure steam and hot temperatures work their way into all the tiny crevices bugs hide. No bugs, larvae, or worms will be left behind.
A word to the wise: make sure the steam cleaner is suitable for mattresses and upholstery. Some get too hot and might damage your mattress. And you may want to consider investing in a waterproof mattress cover. Some are specifically designed for bed bugs, so they’ll protect your mattress from future infestations.
Keep Bugs Out
Once your box spring, mattress, and sheets are clean, it’s time to bug-proof your home.
If you don’t have mesh screens on your windows already, consider installing them. This measure is the best way to prevent carpet beetles and cloth moths from entering your home. They can also hitch a ride into your house in other ways, mostly by hanging out on other fabrics and furniture. Always check anything purchased second-hand before taking it inside.
Seal Cracks and Crevices
Tiny bugs take advantage of even the smallest cracks and crevices to get inside your house. Stop them from getting back inside by sealing cracks in your home’s foundation or window sills with sealant. You should also place a door seal strip to remove the gaps between the door and the floor.
By this point, you’ve already done most of the hard work. Wrap things up by vacuuming your carpets, bed, rugs, and upholstery to shake loose any final bugs that may be hiding. Pay close attention to the edges and corners of soft furniture, vacuuming slowly and carefully. Once finished, throw the vacuum cleaner’s bag away outside of your home.
No one wants to find tiny black bugs in their bed. But if you have, we hope you found this article useful. Remember–if all else fails, contact your local pest control company for reinforcement.