14 Bugs in Your Mattress, Pillows (& How to Get Rid of Them)

Have you just seen a bug on your mattress and pillows? It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bed bug or that they are harmful. There are several different bugs that can make their way onto your bed and identifying them can help you eradicate them effectively.

Continue reading below for the most common bugs you may find in your mattress and pillows, how they get there and how to get rid of them.

Why Are There Bugs in Your Mattress, Pillow

Bugs can come from infested areas or used furniture. Many bugs will get a ride into your home with luggage, backpacks, and soft or upholstered surfaces. They can easily travel between rooms and apartments in complexes.

Even if you have a spotless home, you will get bugs. Bugs come from almost every public place and can easily be accidentally introduced into the home. They are attracted to dirty laundry and warmth, and many are attracted to carbon dioxide.

Once in your home, they can end up on your mattress or pillows.

14 Bugs Found in Your Mattress, Pillows

Common bugs you may find in your mattress and pillows include:

1. Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

The most obvious bug for mattresses and pillows is the bed bug. A small, oval insect that is brown and lives off blood from humans and animals. As adults, they have flat bodies and are only as big as an apple seed. Once they have fed they become swollen and red.

Bed bugs cannot fly, but they are fast movers, moving across walls, ceilings, and floors. The female lays hundreds of eggs in her lifetime. Bed bugs can be introduced into your home and bed through clothes, used furniture items, and luggage. They can fit into the smallest spaces.

They live in groups, hiding in mattresses, bed frames, headboards, and box springs. They choose a place where they can feed on humans as they sleep. They are active at night and feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood. They will feed for three to ten minutes, crawling away unnoticed.

The bites are painless and then become itchy welts. They will bite any area of exposed skin.

2. Carpet Beetles

Carpet Beetles

Carpet Beetles do well in a home environment where there is food. As young beetles, they are tiny worms that are hairy. They feed in dark undisturbed spaces, which includes under furniture, in closets, and behind baseboards. They are often confused with bed bugs.

They are pests to rugs and wool carpets. They feed on wool, silk, feathers, fur, and hair. They are also known to feed on plant materials, including pet food, grains, and books. These beetles can grow to four millimeters in length with an oval-shaped body and striped shell. The shell is yellow or orange, white, and black.

They lay up to one hundred eggs at once. The eggs are cream or white and measure around one millimeter. The eggs hatch within ten days to a month.

These beetles enter homes through windows and open doors. They are also accidentally introduced through furniture that is already infested and brought into the home. They also get a ride on plants and animal fur.

3. Fleas


There are more than two thousand five hundred flea species. These are small flightless insects that are parasites to mammals and birds. They ingest the blood of their host.

An adult flea will grow to three millimeters in length. They are brown with flattened bodies, which enables them to easily move through the host’s fur or feathers. They do not have wings, but they are excellent jumpers.

They have claws that help them hold onto their hosts. They can jump fifty times their body length. The larvae are worm-like without limbs. The larvae have chewing mouth parts and feed on organic debris that is left on the host’s skin.

Fleas feed on the blood of dogs, cats, squirrels, rats, mice, birds, ferrets, rabbits, and humans. Fleas are not species-specific. Being hairless, humans can reduce carrying fleas and they preferred mammals with fur and birds.

Flea infestations are relatively easy to identify. The most common sign includes scratching red bumps, and hair loss. They produce feces, which are tiny black specks. You may see feces in your dog’s bed, rugs, carpets, or in your bed.

The larvae are not that easy to find as they are hidden in undisturbed areas, often behind furniture and in cracks in the floors. The most common way that fleas have been introduced to your mattress and pillows is when your dog or cat has brought them into the house and then climbed onto your bed. They can also be introduced through used furniture, clothing, and the skin of a person.

4. Ticks

Adult deer tick

Ticks feed on animal and human blood. Tick bites are usually harmless but they can cause serious illness or allergic reactions. If you do have a tick bite, you must remove the tick quickly and effectively.

When you are bitten by a tick, you will experience swelling and redness around the bite site that disappears once the tick has been removed. Tick bites can cause symptoms that include a rash, fever, headache, sore glands, flu-like symptoms, and weak limbs. Allergic reaction symptoms include a swollen throat, problems breathing, and collapsing.

Ticks transmit several different infections. They can harbor more than one type of pathogen. Lyme disease is the most common tick bite infection. Most ticks will gain access into your home on your family pet or family member after spending time outdoors. Mice and rats can also bring ticks into the home.

Ticks do not try and willingly come into the home. They sometimes come through small cracks and crevices in homes that are not well maintained. They lay eggs that can cause an infestation.

5. Ants


Ants are eusocial insects and have evolved from vespoid wasps.

Ants will bite to defend themselves, and others are known to sting and spray chemicals. Bullet ants in Central and South America have the most painful sting but it is not fatal to humans. Ants will use the smallest hole or crack to get into your home. They often come through foundations.

Ants will be attracted to your bedroom, mattress, and pillows if your bedroom is the ideal temperate, has good hiding places, and is close to a food source. Ants will enter the home to escape bad weather and enemies.

6. Bat Bugs

Bat bugs are small, oval-shaped insects with a flattened appearance. They are dark brown and turn red after feeding. As adults, they can grow to six millimeters in length. Bat bugs look very similar to bed bugs. Bat bugs have longer fringe hairs on the thorax.

These bugs give an irritating bite. They use bats as their primary host and bats can get into your attic, bringing bat bugs with them. Bats roost higher than floor level and the bugs tend to remain in those areas. They will come to floor level to feed and after feeding return to their hiding place.

If they have made their way to your bed, they will not stay long and return to their hiding place, which is why it’s hard to detect and find them. Bat bugs enter homes when they are separated from the bat.

They sometimes come in on humans, rodents, and birds. If they find your home a suitable living space, they will establish themselves. They will hide in mattresses, bed frames, furniture, and box springs. They spread the same way bed bugs do and can spread from one room to the next or one apartment to the next with ease.

7. Kissing Bugs

Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs are known to transmit Chagas disease, a serious illness. The majority of cases occur in Latin America with direct infection from exposure being very rare in the United States.

Kissing bugs live in the southern and western United States, Central, and South America, and Mexico. They are blood-feeding insects that can bite while you sleep. The majority of kissing bug bites are harmless, though they can cause an allergic reaction and spread disease.

They have brown or black wings with a yellow, orange, or red stripe on the edge. They grow to approximately one inch in length. They need blood to survive. They usually get blood from animals, including dogs and cats and on rare occasions, they bite people. They hide during the day and feed at night.

The majority of bites do not hurt and it’s common to sleep through them. They feed on any area of exposed skin including the head, arms, feet, and face. They also like to bite around the eyes and mouth.

There are usually up to fifteen bite marks in one area, which is red and swollen. These bugs often enter the home through cracks and crevices. They are known to come out of hiding at night and make their way to beds where they feed on the blood of humans.

8. Dust Mites

Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny insects that feed on dead human skin cells. They do well in warm and humid settings. They are too small to see with the naked eye. They are not parasites that bite, burrow, or sting.

Many people are allergic to dust and dust mites. The allergic reaction is caused by breathing in the dust mite feces, urine, or decaying bodies. These tiny insects can live in mattresses, bedding, furniture, curtains, and carpets. You can find them everywhere with four to five homes in the United States having dust mite allergies in one bed or more.

Dust mites appear in just about every home. Humidity is the most important factor to identify if your home has a high level of dust mites. They do not drink water but rather absorb moisture from the air.

The dust mite allergens settle on fabrics and in the dust. This clings to mattresses, pillows, furniture, curtains, and carpets, which are ideal nests for these tiny insects.

Ongoing exposure to dust mites can impact your health, especially in those with asthma and allergies. They are often the cause of asthma attacks. Mild cases can cause watering eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. Severe infestation can cause coughing, congestion, facial pressure, and severe asthma attacks.

9. Cockroaches


Cockroaches are nocturnal and hide during the day. They carry diseases that can lead to food poisoning and diarrhea. The cockroach saliva and cast skins can cause asthma attacks and allergies, which are very common in children.

Cockroaches have flattened oval bodies with long antennae. They have six legs and may have wings. They are resourceful and can enter your home through the smallest holes and cracks. They will be accidentally introduced on suitcases, bags, containers, and backpacks.

It is not common to find cockroaches in your mattress or pillows, though they will hide in your bedside furniture and bed frame.

10. Chiggers


Chiggers are microscopic bugs that you need a magnifying glass to identify them. While they are not dangerous, they can leave you with a very itchy bite. They prefer fields, forests, and lawns where there is moist grass. They are very common near streams and lakes.

As adults, they do not bite. The larvae are the ones that bite. Larvae are yellow, orange, or red and grow to 0.3 millimeters in length. They do not spread disease, but their bites can cause scratching, which can break the skin and lead to infection.

You are not going to see a chigger unless you are searching for it and even then you will need a magnifying glass or microscope. They can be introduced to your bed when they get a ride on your pet that then jumps onto your bed. The chigger can fall off the pet and end up on your bed.

11. Lice


Lice, also known as a louse, has five thousand species. They are wingless parasitic insects that live off warm-blooded hosts. They live on birds and mammals. They are known to transmit typhus.

They will feed on human blood and are easily spread from one person to another through close contact when you share belongings, such as a bed. Head lice are found on the scalp, body lice live in clothing and bedding, and pubic lice occur on the skin and hair of the pubic area.

The common symptoms of a lice infestation include itching of the body, genital area, or scalp. It’s not uncommon to feel tickling from the movement of the hair. Lice are no bigger than a sesame seed.

The larvae, known as nits, are placed on the hair shafts and are not easy to see. They often look like dandruff, they cannot be brushed out. Scratching caused by lice bites can cause small red bumps that can become infected.

Body lice are passed from one person to the next where the people have close physical contact or they share a bed, blankets, or bedding. Head lice are spread from close contact, directly from one head to the next. They can spread through shared clothing.

12. Termites


Termites can bite and sting. They do not have toxic bites and they do not carry disease. They can cause an allergic reaction or asthma attack when they are in the home.

Termites are silent destroyers, chewing through wood, wallpaper, and flooring without being detected. Termites can cause billions of dollars of property damage each year, which is not covered by homeowners insurance policies.

Swarmers are winged termites that fly into homes in early spring, searching for the perfect place to start their new colony. Some will use underground tunnels to make their way into the home. They can enter the home through openings, gaps, and cracks.

If you think you have seen a termite on your mattress or pillows, chances are you are sleeping on a wooden bed which attracted the termite. They will attack mattresses and sheets, as these items have cellulose. Cellulose is found in flax, cotton, and rayon, which are often used for beds and bedding.

13. Spiders


Spiders are arthropods, which include mites, ticks, and scorpions. There are more than forty-five thousand spider species in the world and are commonly found throughout the world.

Spiders can range in size from only half an inch long to large spiders, which are almost a foot in length. Some spiders are very dangerous, such as the black widow and brown recluse, both of which can be found in the United States.

Spiders can enter the home easily through open windows and doors. They also make their way through gaps, holes, cracks, and vents. They hide in dark, debris-filled cracks. They do not want to encounter humans and will hide under your bed as it is dark and dusty.

14. Silverfish


Silverfish are silver insects with a metallic appearance. They have a fish-like shape and movement. Silverfish are common throughout the United States where they prefer moist and humid areas, especially bathrooms, attics, and basements.

They do tend to hide from humans, causing unnoticed damage. They usually make their way into the home while searching for food. They can be accidentally introduced on food products, boxes, fabrics, and items with high sugar and starch content.

Silverfish tend to prefer pantries and basements, though they can move into the bedroom if it has the right conditions. They will start to eat your linens. When starched sheets become damp from humidity and sweat, it provides the perfect habitat for these insects.

Ways to Get Rid of Bugs in Mattresses, Pillows

Prevention is always better than cure, but if you have noticed bugs in your mattress and pillows, then you are going to want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. The first step is to place your pillows in a sealed bag and place them in the washing machine on the highest heat level with detergent.

Preferably use a tumble drier to dry your pillows. The heat of the washing machine and tumble drier can be very effective at killing bugs and their eggs. The same applies to shoes and stuffed toys.

Use a brush and scrub your mattress seams and then vacuum your bed and surrounding area. After you have vacuumed, you must empty the vacuum bag immediately and place the waste outdoors away from the home.

You can use a mattress cover and bed cover that is tightly woven to reduce the risk of bugs entering and escaping. Remember bed bugs can survive for a year without feeding, so ensure you keep the cover on the bed for a minimum of one year.

You can also remove bugs by eliminating clutter around the bed and repairing any cracks in the wall plaster and gluing any peeling wallpaper.

How to Keep Bugs Away From Mattresses and Pillows

Prevention is always best and a few steps regularly can reduce the risk of bugs entering your bedroom and making their way into your mattress and pillows. Insecticides tend to work. You can spray areas where they hide, such as near the bed, under the bed, or the entire bed. Don’t forget to spray the walls close to the baseboards.

You can use insect traps, which are excellent at eradicating ants and other bugs. It is effective at helping to eradicate infestations. You can set the traps in areas where the bugs can hide and travel, such as close to your nightstands and near the baseboards. Place traps at the base of your bed legs.

Insect powder is also very effective at reducing the risk of bugs in your bed. Powder insecticides kill bugs as they make their way through the powder. Many powders can kill bugs for years if it isn’t disturbed. The powder should be sprayed where you think the bugs travel, such as baseboards and the base of your bed legs.

Place powder insecticide just under the carpet where it meets the wall and around the perimeter of the room. When buying second-hand furniture, always look for signs of bugs. You must vacuum regularly and reduce clutter around the bed.

If you have recently been on vacation, then there are some tips to help you reduce the risk of adding bugs to your own home and bed. When you arrive at your hotel do not put your luggage on the bed, always use the luggage rack provided and ensure it is moved away from the wall. Use a flashlight and look for signs of bugs in the bed, also check the furniture near the bed.

When you return home, keep your travel clothes separate and wash them in hot water as soon as possible. Vacuum your luggage and empty the vacuum contents.