There is hardly an apartment that hasn’t already been inhabited by silverfish. It can affect new buildings as well as buildings that are decades old. The attack by the wingless insects actually has little to do with a lack of hygiene. There are other factors that make human dwellings so attractive to silverfish that they are rarely found in the wild. Silverfish in the apartment are no drama, because the insects do not pose a health threat. If you still want to get rid of the annoying roommates, you can find out here what to do.


  • Fishlets (Zygentoma) insect family
  • Name of the species: Silverfish ( Lepisma saccharina )
  • Colonized the earth for 300 million years
  • Wingless with a silvery scaled body
  • Body length 7 to 12 millimeters
  • Nocturnal and afraid of light
  • Typical meandering locomotion
  • Life expectancy from 2 to 8 years

Know the daily routine of the pest

When night falls, the nimble silverfish take over the reigns in the apartment. While the human inhabitants sleep, the insects come out of their hiding places and go in search of food. Skin flakes, mold spores, dirt particles and, above all, carbohydrates in the form of sugar or flour are on the menu. Since they move completely silently, it is not uncommon for them to be in the house for months before they are discovered. This usually happens when the light is accidentally turned on at night. Just before the extremely light-shy silverfish reach their hiding place, they attract attention.

During the day, the pests stay in various hiding places in the apartment. Wherever it is warm and humid, they settle:

  • behind the tiles and in broken joints in the bathroom
  • behind the baseboards or under the refrigerator in the kitchen
  • between the washing machine and the wall in the laundry room
  • in drainpipes and sinks of all kinds

The foods in the pantry rarely infest silverfish. It’s too cold and dry for them there. Only when there is a high infestation pressure do the little animals settle there as an exception.

As a result, the insects rarely get into the house via food. Experts assume that they mainly gain access to the apartment through the drainpipes and water pipes.

Identify and eliminate causes

The immediate control of silverfish in the apartment only works sporadically. As long as the problem is not tackled at the root, the bugs will keep coming back. A strategically clever approach identifies the causes in the first step. If these are fixed, the existing silverfish are eliminated in the second step. In this case, there is a good chance that the next time you press the light switch at night, there will be no hectic bustle on the floor.

Indicator of moisture and mold

The presence of silverfish in the apartment indicates structural defects that cause dampness and mold to form. Start investigating the cause in the room of the obvious infestation.

  • Seal cracks in tiles and joints
  • Seal skirting boards with fresh silicone
  • Close spouts and drainpipes overnight
  • Glue loosened wallpaper back on
  • Seal leaking windows with foam
Tip: If the silverfish spread in a windowless room, a dehumidifier can provide a permanent remedy. Suitable devices for the apartment are already available for less than 100 euros.

Control silverfish biologically

If the triggers for the infestation with silverfish have been found and eliminated, a certain number of insects should still be in the apartment. So that they do not multiply happily, they should be eliminated. Reaching for chemical preparations is not recommended. Bait cans with poisonous contents are significantly more harmful to children and pets than the harmless silverfish.

Furthermore, no one knows what really happens to the poison traps after disposal. It makes more sense to use bait traps with natural ingredients, most of which are already available in the household. The following pesticides have proven effective:

  • Brush a piece of newspaper with honey and lay out overnight
  • Place a boiled, notched potato in a bag and discard with the bugs the next morning
  • A mixture of baking powder and sugar sprinkled in columns has a deadly effect on silverfish
  • Soak kitchen paper with sugar water and distribute in the apartment

Spiders and earwigs are natural predators. However, it is extremely questionable whether it is advisable to lure these beneficial insects into the home so that they can eat harmless silverfish.

Natural diatomaceous earth

If the infestation by silverfish has taken on larger dimensions, plagued apartment owners resort to more drastic measures. Natural diatomaceous earth, also known as silica flour or diatomaceous perlite, has been shown to be effective in controlling silverfish, mites and other tiny critters. The sharp-edged particulate matter is made up of plankton organisms and is free of any chemical additives. The microscopic granules slit open the insects’ scale armor, causing them to dry out. With a suitable powder spray, kieselguhr is applied very sparingly to endangered and infested areas in the home. Since the fine dust is respirable, appropriate precautionary measures must be taken. Gloves are just as essential as a face mask.

Infected books in the freezer

In the absence of suitable food, silverfish do not disdain the cellulose in paper. Your books – especially older ones – are therefore endangered. Insects’ tiny digestive systems are designed to break down and process cellulose into its myriad sugar components. In this respect, the nuisances have a number of advantages over the herbivores, which also qualifies them as covert bookworms. Depending on the intensity of the infestation, the tiny creatures are able to destroy entire sections of text. They cunningly nibble around the printer’s ink. It is therefore advisable to involve the private library in all measures and to keep an eye on the books. If you come across an endangered or damaged specimen, place it in a plastic bag.

preventive measures

If your apartment has so far been spared from silverfish, you are far from being on the safe side. Either the tiny lodgers have managed to remain invisible or an infestation is imminent. If you integrate the following steps into your daily routine, you can effectively prevent an infestation by silverfish.

Shock and cross ventilation

Silverfish do not feel comfortable in well-ventilated apartments. Leaving the windows in the tilted position throughout the day, on the other hand, is not recommended. The desired exchange of air does not take place with this form of ventilation. A combination of shock and cross ventilation is more suitable. Two to three times a day, open the windows in rooms across from each other for 10 minutes. The short-term draft expels moist, warm air in no time at all and creates a dry climate that silverfish do not like.

Note: If the apartment is unoccupied for several days, all interior doors should be left open. This ensures a minimum of air exchange.

Paint walls with mold primer

Silverfish are magically attracted to mold of any kind. The spores are at the top of their menu. If you are planning to paint the room walls, a special mold primer is recommended. The preparation is applied in several layers and penetrates deep into the substrate. The preventive effect is increased if you then use an anti-mold paint. Silverfish should never feel comfortable in such an environment.

Dry laundry outdoors

If evaporating moisture from freshly washed laundry rises, this creates the ideal climate for silverfish. It therefore makes sense to dry the laundry in the open air. Since this is not always possible in the local regions, a well-ventilated room should preferably be considered as a drying room in the apartment.

Clean bathroom after every shower

Skin scales and hair attract silverfish in the apartment particularly intensively. Since these components accumulate in the bathroom, the floor and walls of the wet room should be dried with a squeegee down to the corners after each shower. In addition, the silverfish food accumulates on the wet bath mat. Putting them straight into the washing machine is not absolutely necessary. Ideally, let the fabric air dry.

Clean kitchen with lemon cleaner

In the kitchen, as part of the meal preparation, there is a lot of potential food for hungry silverfish. From the morning roll crumbs, to the flour when baking cakes, to the sugar for the coffee, the table is richly set for the insects here. Since very few housewives and househusbands have the time and desire to clean the kitchen after each work step, the question arises of a cleaning agent that is effective for a longer period of time. Try lemon cleanser, which can be found in drugstores for little money. It doesn’t annoy the silverfish in the long run; at least for a few days.

Tip: A good sip of boiling water poured down the drain from time to time will drive away the silverfish that have settled there.

Silverfish in bed – that helps

It is by no means the rule; At worst, silverfish can make themselves comfortable in your bed. Here you will find skin particles and scales in abundance. If you have breakfast in bed every now and then, even with the greatest care, you will leave numerous crumbs of bread and biscuits behind. These contain plenty of starch, which is what the insects are primarily after. If the silverfish meltdown hits you with full force, there is no reason to panic. With the following measures you can quickly eliminate the problem:

  • Mattresses and slipcovers are dry cleaned
  • Bed linen is washed at a minimum of 60 degrees
  • Process the bed frame and slatted frame with the high-pressure cleaner
  • Paint both parts with clear lacquer without gaps

If you want to be on the safe side, replace the slatted frame and bed frame with new ones and paint them with clear varnish as a preventive measure. Finally, subject the bedroom to a thorough examination and apply all the precautions described there to prevent a new infestation.

Silverfish in the apartment is not a sign of poor hygiene, but serves as an indicator of dampness and mold due to construction defects. The nocturnal insects prefer to nest in damp and warm hiding places in the house. Neither the bathroom nor the kitchen or the library are spared. They even haunt the bedroom and don’t shy away from the bed. Since the silverlings do not pose a health threat, but are simply disgusting, nobody needs to panic. The causes of the infestation should be determined and eliminated. There are effective home remedies and natural preparations available to combat it, such as diatomaceous earth. In addition, you can incorporate various hand movements into your daily routine as preventive measures. This includes shock and cross ventilation, as well as stripping the floor and walls after every shower. As a rule of thumb, silverfish will not nest anywhere that is cool and dry.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *