Worms in the House

A reader wrote to us recently about an infestation of worms plaguing his mountain home, so, not surprisingly, he wants to know how to remove worms from the house. The worms are coming through the ground floor of the home and end up in the bedrooms that are downstairs. How should he get rid of these worms?

First, we need to bring the situation into sharper focus. Although it’s not entirely clear from the reader’s description, it sounds as if the worms are living in the soil that is right by the bottom part of the walls of the house, as well as in the cracks of this same part of the walls. The soil by the walls is evidently moist, as the reader reports that the worms dry out and die when they leave this area. Currently, however, the worms appear to enjoy their location because they are staying near the walls and, alas, reproducing, exacerbating the problem.

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Not surprisingly, the worms are rather small: about an inch long, according to the reader. We’re not sure what type of worm the reader is dealing with, but that’s not very important at the moment – the size it what counts. The smallness of the worms explains why they are able to easily get into the house. Larger worms have a lot more difficulty slipping in. How often do you find huge night crawlers squirming around your living room?

Searching for the appropriate solution to his problem, the reader mentioned two additional things. First, he can’t put anything on the ground, by which he presumably means that he can’t place anything on the ground surrounding his house, perhaps because of space limitations. Second, he asked about using some sort of spray to address the problem. However, we try to never recommend pesticides or other chemicals (although plenty of other places on the web will direct you to such products), so our proposed solution will steer clear of placing something on the ground and using any sort of spray.

What solution might that be? Unfortunately, it’s not very profound: seal up the cracks and other gaps in the walls of your house. If the foundation of your house is made of concrete, as foundations are wont to be, you could use any number of masonry-patching products, like hydraulic cement. However, as walls continue to shift in the ground over the course of a few years, the cracks will likely reappear, so a better solution is to use a type of epoxy sealer on the cracks, which is a lot more permanent solution for reasons that don’t concern us at present. You might also check the weep holes of your home. If you think the worms might be coming in this way, you can partially seal them with plastic mesh. (N.B.: Don’t use steal or copper mesh because either will oxidize and stain your house, and don’t completely seal your weep holes or you’ll have water-drainage issues.)

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If you are able to seal your house, worms will not be able to get in (nor will other insects, for that matter). So, it won’t matter how much worm reproduction is going on outside the walls of your house because it will be going on outside the walls of your house, and they won’t be getting in afterward.

One final consideration for our reader: it may be worth investigating why the soil outside the walls of your house is moist while the soil further away is not. Might there be a drainage issue that is causing water to accumulate right by the walls of your house? If you can eliminate the moisture, this soil by and in the cracks of your walls will no longer serve as a good habitat for worms, and this may eliminate or at least greatly reduce the problem without having to seal tons of cracks in your walls (although you may want to do this anyway).

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