What are those little red worms in the house?

Small red worms in the house or apartment can cause panic and disgust in many people. In order to remove these, it is necessary to correctly recognize and identify the little animals.

Worms are larvae

Small red worms are often discovered in the house or apartment. These are preferably found in the bathroom, where optimal conditions and sufficient food are available. Of course, they are also often found in the other rooms of the apartment. However, the animals identified as small red worms are usually not worms in the sense, but are larvae of various insects, such as beetles. Adult animals lay their eggs indoors when there are ideal conditions for the survival of their offspring larvae, among other things

  • sufficient moisture
  • good food sources like
  • dander, hair, wood, textiles

Such an environment is welcome for small red worms. To get rid of these little creatures, it is necessary to recognize them correctly in order to take appropriate measures. Below are some examples of the red larvae most commonly found in homes and apartments.

Buntkäfer (Cleridae)

This species prefers to lay its eggs in areas of the home where mold grows and there is moisture. Welcome places are the space between the wall and the wood paneling. In addition, a bathroom also offers optimal conditions due to the moisture that occurs when showering and bathing. After a few days, small red worms develop from the eggs, preferably larvae with the following characteristics

  • Length 3 to 5 mm
  • Coloration from white to pink to red
  • black head
  • elongated body shape, worm-like
  • Body cross-section somewhat flattened to cylindrical
  • Hindquarters glabrous or densely hairy
Note: The adult animals are 6 to 16 mm long and have a broad head with large mouthparts. Depending on the species, they are brightly colored and can all run and fly well.

Spotted fur beetle (Attagenus pellio)

Also known as the common fur beetle, it can easily get inside the house through open doors and windows, especially in the evenings when the lights are on. It can also spread through clothing. In themselves, the adult beetles are normally quite harmless, but their larvae are tough. They prefer as food

  • dander and hair
  • all types of textiles
  • natural fibers such as furs

The bathroom also literally attracts the larvae, and they don’t miss the dirty laundry stored here with its smell of sweat. They also feel very comfortable in wardrobes or under drawer bottoms. If the larvae are not combated, they will inevitably destroy everything they can eat.

The larvae of the common fur beetle can be recognized by the following features:

  • Length 8 to 10 mm
  • initially golden yellow in colour
  • later reddish to red
  • shiny body surface
  • wide head
  • elongated body
  • short, poisonous hairs spread all over the body
  • on the rear part light brown, brush-like, long hair (arrow hair)

The adult beetles are recognizable by

  • Length 3 to 6 mm
  • schwarz
  • dense hair
  • a large bright spot in the middle of each elytra

Anthropus scrophulariae

Like the fur beetle, this species, also known as the figwort flower beetle, belongs to the bacon beetle family (Dermestidae). Again, the problem is not the adult beetle itself, but its voracious larvae. Their diet includes mainly

  • wool and silk
  • feathers and horn
  • skins and leather
  • cotton

The larvae feel very comfortable in dark and warm places. They also retreat there after their “eating attacks”. Their appearance is largely reminiscent of small red worms:

  • Length; 3 to 6 mm
  • colored reddish brown
  • dense hair
  • additional arrow hairs on the rump

Adult beetles are also very easy to spot:

  • Length: 3 to 5 mm
  • black with differently colored scales
  • white-brownish transverse bands on elytra
Note: To get rid of these beetles or larvae, appropriate measures must be taken as soon as possible at the first sign in order to avert greater damage.

Get rid of bacon beetle larvae

When controlling fur and carpet beetle larvae in the home, care must be taken to remove them completely as well. The following measures have proven their worth:

  • Collect and dispose of beetles and larvae
  • steam-clean non-washable textiles
  • wash washable clothes, fabrics, etc. at 60 °C
  • alternatively take it to a dry cleaner or
  • vacuum everything thoroughly, brush and store in the freezer for at least a week
  • Wash dirty laundry regularly
  • don’t collect for long
  • regular cleaning of furniture, carpets, etc.
  • if necessary, use a mixture of vinegar essence and water in a ratio of 1:4
  • Repeat basic cleaning every two days
  • normally after 7 to 10 days the infestation should be gone
  • adequate ventilation of the rooms
  • Installation of fly screens
Tip: As a household remedy, lavender oil in fragrance lamps and lavender blossoms in scented bags hanging in the closet can drive away bacon beetles or their larvae, as they detest the smell.

Kira Bellingham

I'm a homes writer and editor with more than 20 years' experience in publishing. I have worked across many titles, including Ideal Home and, of course, Homes & Gardens. My day job is as Chief Group Sub Editor across the homes and interiors titles in the group. This has given me broad experience in interiors advice on just about every subject. I'm obsessed with interiors and delighted to be part of the Homes & Gardens team.

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