One of our readers recently sent in a picture of a “worm-looking thing” they have been finding on their bed at “random occasions”. Upon zooming in on the photograph our reader sent in, the worm in question appears to be a clear-white color, with a dark spot on one end of its body, which we assume to be its head, and a slightly darker inside.
Our reader adds that they usually find one of the creatures at a time, and while it is not frequently, it is “enough to cause concern”. They also do not have a carpet in their bedroom. We assume they added this because they had eliminated the possibility that it was a carpet beetle larva, one of the most common household pests that feeds on animal-based fibers. We hate to break it to anyone who thought otherwise, but carpet beetle larvae do not only destroy carpets, but rather any fabric that is even partly animal-based. However, that it is not what we think this creature is. We think it is another type of larva with the exact same diet, namely a clothes moth larva.
There are two common types of clothes moths: the casemaking clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth. We think this may be the latter of the two, only because the main difference between the two types of moths is that the larvae of the casemaking clothes moth leave tubes of silk in their wake, and our reader did not report finding anything as such. Then again, there are various things that webbing clothes moth larvae leave behind too, and our reader did not state having found any patches of webbing or faecal pellets, both of which the webbing clothes moth larva commonly trails behind. Thus, we are keeping both options open, though focusing on the webbing clothes moth larvae, as it is typically that type of moth that people find in their home eating their clothes.
As we said, webbing clothes moth larvae feed on animal-based fabrics, which includes anything from clothes, carpets, and yes, bedding. They even feed on the nesting left behind by birds and certain mammals! The larvae like to hide in dark, cramped spaces where they cannot be found and where they can feed in peace. To control the infestation and ultimately rid one’s home of them, it is important to first vacuum all carpeted surfaces and other animal-based fabrics that can be vacuumed. Following that, one will want to launder and/or steam-clean any animal-based fabrics that can be treated as such in order to fully eradicate any organisms or eggs that may be present there. Finally, in order to prevent further infestations, our reader can consider sealing any cracks in walling, flooring or window screens that may invite such bugs and other creatures, and storing unused fabrics in vacuum-sealed bags or cold vaults. If our reader wants more information on this matter, the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky provides an excellent and detailed account of the methods of controlling clothes moth infestations.
In conclusion, the “worm-looking thing” our reader found in their bedroom is a clothes moth larva. Although they are not cause for concern in terms of health or safety, they can prove to be quite the pest as they can chew holes through many garments and fabrics as the infestation spreads. However, we believe that if our reader applies the methods listed above, they will be rid of this problem in no time.