The silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum)

Silverfish UK. How to get rid of silverfish for good?

Silverfish UK

The silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum) are silver-grey in colour, flat and about an inch long. The scientific name, which is derived from the Latin term where “sugar” and “starch” are combined, indicates that the silverfish eats carbohydrates such as sugar or starch.They have two fuse-like tails at the rear end of their body. When you touch silverfish, they wriggle quickly away from your hand.What silverfish eat

Silverfish eat paper, glue and clothes. You may find silverfish in your bathroom or kitchen as they are attracted by the moisture from steam pipes and shower curtains. Silverfish also like starchy foods such as pasta, flour and cereal.

Where silverfish live – Silverfish UK

Silverfish can be found throughout the world indoors and outdoors. They generally don’t survive more than a few months without food and water so you will often find silverfish living in dark moist places – for example – damp attics, basements and hot cupboards around old sinks. Silverfish do not carry diseases that pose a threat to humans but they can damage property such as books, pictures and wallpaper with their appetite for starch-based materials.

Where do silverfish come from?

Silverfish are nocturnal insects and live mostly in dark, moist areas such as bathrooms and basements, although silverfish can survive anywhere there is enough moisture. Silverfish prefer to be around warm places with high humidity levels like

Bathrooms – silverfish love damp tiles and showers

Kitchens – silverfish enjoy staying near sinks and bathrooms where water is more abundant than other areas

Cupboards – silver-colored cupboards provide a good environment for silverfish as they search for water and food

It is thought that silverfish may have originated from South America as it is believed that both silverfish and their eggs were found in the nests of certain South American lizards.

Silverfish UK

Silverfish can also be found outdoors if there are enough sources of moisture, such as under boards or near leaks in roofs. It has been suggested silverfish sometimes make a home inside termite mounds because silverfish often enter houses through small cracks and crevices which termites leave behind after chewing through wood or paper to make tunnels. Silverfish eat the same things as termites – mainly paper cellulose-based substances – so silverfish can survive by eating discarded wings, legs, bodies etc. Somesilverfish (outdoor silverfish) have been found living on the outside of buildings where moisture from rain, condensation and water leaks can be collected. Silverfish UK

What silverfish eat indoors

Silverfish generally prefer very warm conditions so they are most common in houses or other buildings that are centrally heated or have large numbers of conservatories or outbuildings with hot-water pipes running through them. Silverfish will feed on whatever they find including wallpaper paste, glue, soap powder and flour. They also eat fabrics such as cotton and linen although silk is not a good food source for silverfish unless it is mixed with a cellulose base such as cotton or paper. If silverfish manage to get into your cupboard, you may find silver fish feeding on the sugar and flour in your food storage.

Where silverfish live outdoors

As silverfish can survive for several months without water, it is not necessary that silverfish live underground or underwater all year round; silver-colored silverfish may sometimes find their way into damp cellars and basements during winter but silverfish would usually prefer to remain outside and search for moisture under stones, planks of wood, tree bark and mulch during the warmer months when they will breed and feed on dead insects. Silverfish generally need a source of moisture such as rainwater running down the wall to survive. This water allows silverfish eggs to hatch into nymphs which move around until they reach areas where there are sources of food such as old nests, bird droppings and compost heaps.

What silverfish damage indoors

Silverfish can cause a considerable amount of damage to any property they infest, particularly if silverfish live in the walls or pockets inside cupboards where silver-colored silverfish seem to prefer to make their homes. Silverfish can eat through cardboard boxes and paper packaging so you should always check packets before storing them away. As silverfish seem to prefer damp areas, it is advisable never to store household items such as books in a basement or garage for too long even though silverfish food sources in a garage may include old oil-soaked rags. If silverfish have been living inside your wall cavity for several months, you will often find considerable silverfish staining of silverfish on the silver-colored silverfish walls and silverfish trails on any nearby surfaces. Once silverfish have finished feeding, silverfish may leave silver-colored silverfish trails of excrement that resemble small black pepper grains on the surface areas where they travel.

Is it dangerous to have silverfish infestation?

The silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum) is a tiny insect that has four stages of life. First stage they appear as their eggs and the size of them before hatching is 0.08mm, then after hatchlings turn into larvae, feeding on tiny particles such as paper, glue and starch-based products like book bindings and wallpaper paste. Silverfish insects grow to 0.7cm and possess enlarged mandibles which they use for chewing through these materials, and lastly the fourth stage where silverfish will develop wings just before moulting into an adult. 

Silverfish infestation is rather common in places such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements because of their particular taste for paper. They are often found in a moist environment and a warm one, making them a common pest in bathroom cabinets, walls and furniture covered with paper-based materials such as wallpaper.


Despite silverfish being an annoying pest which can damage certain products if left to infest for too long, it is not possible that they cause any danger to your health. Silverfish are not known to carry any diseases, they do not bite or sting people and their faeces is harmless. Silverfish can however be annoying because of the damage they inflict. Their diet mainly consists of paper, glue, fabric and other products made from starch, so when silverfish infest your home in search for food they can damage paper-based products such as wallpaper, book bindings and clothes. Silverfish infestation is in most cases easily dealt with and after a little while there will be no more silverfish in your home, but if you want to get rid of them before the problem gets worse, below we have listed all the recommended actions you need to take as well as a little trick to get rid of silverfish once and for all!


What are the signs you have silverfish?

There are many different signs that indicate an infestation of silverfish in your home or library. Amongst the more common signs are:

– White trails in their path when they travel about the floor, walls or ceiling. These trails usually consist of excrement and shed skin.

– The feeding of silverfish will cause a brown stain to be left on the floor or wall where they have been eating. This is due to their high concentration of uric acid in their systems, which is what makes them so effective at killing bacteria.

– Silverfish prefer warmer conditions and are usually found in areas where they can be exposed to heat such as near ovens, boilers or rooms with high humidity.

-Silverfish eat their own shed skin and will congregate in groups where there is an abundant supply of this food source stored up by other silverfish.

– If there’s a wide gap under the door, you may see them crawling out. Silverfish can also be found in damp places such as around sinks or basins in bathrooms and laundries around dripping taps.

– If you find small, silvery fish like insects scuttling about your floor or walls, you may have an infestation.

How do you get rid of silverfish for good?

The silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum)is one of the most common insect pests that invade homes. It is typically found in pantries and basements, but will travel to any room where food is available

There are several steps in getting rid of silverfish for good:

1) Clean up all potential sources of food or moisture nearby so they don’t have anything to eat.

2) Keep moisture to a minimum in the house by shutting off water sources and fixing leaking pipes, ceilings, windows etc.

3) Exterminate all silverfish with either commercial insecticides or homemade remedies such as borax.

4) Sweep or vacuum dead silverfish as you find them, as well as any silverfish poop (looks like little black dots), to get rid of carcasses and remnants.

5) Keep silverfish from coming back by sealing cracks where they may enter the house or use any other method to keep them out.

6) Call your local pest control company if the silverfish are not eradicated.

What naturally kills silverfish?


There are several things that kill silverfish naturally, but they aren’t very effective in most cases

– Putting away food in sealable containers will greatly discourage silverfish since they prefer to eat starchy items like cereal and pasta

– Silverfish dislike strong smells so putting ground cloves or bay leaves around the house is also an effective way to reduce silverfish presence.

– Vacuuming is also a good method of getting rid of silverfish in most cases

– Soapy water kills the silverfish when you spray it on them directly, but it can easily miss other places where they may be hiding so this method is not very effective either.

– Boraxis an effective natural way of getting rid of silverfish.

– Diatomaceous earth is another common household remedy for killing silverfish and other insects, but this method is not as effective as borax or commercial sprays.

What smell do silverfish hate?

Silverfish dislike strong smells of any kind. Some good scents to use around the house include cloves and bay leaves, but many people just use commercial mixtures that they buy at their local grocery store or hardware shop. You can also put used coffee grounds in the cracks where you think silverfish may hide because even though they like to eat starch, they also hate the smell of coffee.


Silverfish Pest Control UK

Bon Accord Pest Control offers complete solutions for commercial and residential  silverfish control throughout the UK.


The silverfish is widely distributed throughout most parts of North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The silverfish insects are usually found living outdoors under rocks, fallen trees or debris during the daytime hours. They will become active at night time when they leave their hiding places to find food.


The silverfish will eat materials such as cereals, clothing, paper and book bindings, and glue on the back of wallpaper. The silverfish insect will also feed on dead plants or animal remains. Because of their liking for humid environments they may enter homes through cracks in outside walls, flooring or baseboards.


Silverfish can be difficult to control without an experienced pest controller. Many householders try the do it yourself approach with limited results. Bon Accord Pest Control has several methods of silverfish treatment for homes and businesses in the UK, so they are listed below:

Silverfish UK. Both steam treatments and heat treatments are effective when used against silverfish, particularly wall voids.

Steam treatment has an advantage over heat in that it performs well even in small spaces, such as wardrobe cracks where the temperature is insufficient to kill silverfish. Treatment is very successful with Bon Accord’s mobile equipment which enables technicians to use steam generators and hoses with good accuracy. This is particularly useful with difficult areas such as sidewall voids in houses and behind wooden panels in walls.

Bon Accord’s professional technicians use a combination of chemical and heat treatments for silverfish control in commercial buildings, which is very effective. Read more about our silverfish control services

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