The worst has happened: you’ve found a silverfish in bed with you. And now you’re desperately perusing the Internet for reassurance that silverfish don’t live in beds, that it was a fluke, that there’s no chance of it happening again.
We’re going to give it to your straight.
If you’ve found a silverfish in bed, it’s likely that there’s been a sudden increase in the legs to opposable thumbs ratio in your home. Yup, by the time silverfish show up in your bed, that means the silverfish infestation in your house has gone from bad to worse.
You’re most likely now walking on eggshells, with your eyes resolutely on the horizon, in case you spot yet another silverfish crawling through your bedroom like a casual commuter.
If so, worry not. You’re one of us. Many of us are paralyzed with squeamishness and irritation at many-legged home invaders, with no idea what we’re up against.
But this is no way to live. You are the master of your home and it’s time to take your bed back. Let’s dive in.
Is it a silverfish or a silverfish like bug?
You spotted a silverfish in bed. Or so you think. Silverfish are very fast moving bugs and they’re tiny to boot.
So unless you have a specimen in front of you, there is a chance that what you saw was a silverfish looking bug, rather than an actual silverfish.
What do silverfish look like?
The first thing to do is to brush up on what a silverfish actually looks like. These bugs are small – about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long. They are silvery-gray. And they have slim, flat bodies that taper at the ends, like a carrot.
But you’ll most likely be able to recognize them from the two, long and creepy antennae protruding from their heads as well as the disturbing yet unique way they slither.
Is it a silverfish like bug?
If you only got a glance at the bug on your bed, it could be a couple other bugs instead. Ones that typically like to hang out near human beds, like:
Bed bugs. These brown, oval-shaped bugs look nothing like silverfish. But if it’s one of the nymphs you spotted, they can be translucent and cause confusion. These bugs do love to live in human beds so make sure to read some signs of bed bugs to see if this could be the culprit.
Carpet beetle larvae. These worm-like creepy crawlies are covered in tiny bristles, which are completely unlike the silvery scales that cover a silverfish. Still, they can be found in beds and are easy to mistake for silverfish when you’ve only caught a glance.
Cockroach nymphs. Roach babies can be a pale white when they’re first hatched. They also have two, long, creepy antennae and move fast, just like a silverfish.
The above are the most likely culprits when it comes to bugs that look like silverfish that can be found in beds.
Once you’ve established that it’s not a case of mistaken identity and it is indeed silverfish, you may have another pressing question…
Where do silverfish live?
If you’re wondering whether silverfish are just more common in certain countries and areas – yes, they kind of are although they don’t have to be.
Silverfish are surprisingly hardy little creatures and are more than capable of surviving in a great variety of different environments and climates.
But in general, they much prefer places with humid weather and atmosphere as this provides the optimum condition for longevity, food, reproduction and maturity.
The rule is: the damper and warmer the weather is in your country or area, the more likely it is that you pose as a nice attraction for any local silverfish to set up shop.
Why do I have silverfish in my bedroom?
When it comes to infesting houses, silverfish will seek out certain conditions: mainly, humidity and moisture. That’s why, as with most creepy crawlies, silverfish are often found in basements, bathrooms, bathtubs, kitchens and so on.
Typically, they like places that are close to pockets of moisture and around leaky pipes.
But if conditions are right, silverfish can move into your bedroom. So what factors make the bedroom attractive for silverfish?
Perhaps your bedroom is in a basement or a semi-basement. Rooms that lie below the ground are prone to higher levels of moisture.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, bedrooms that are on the second floor can also be higher in humidity than the rest of the house. Warm and moist indoor air will rise since it’s less dense than dry air and will rise to the top of the house.
Or maybe you just happen to live in a humid climate which extends to your bedroom. It could even be the case that you sweat a lot during the night, making your sheets damp from perspiration throughout the day.
Whatever it is that is causing it, high humidity is a top attractant for silverfish.
Do you rarely open the shutters to let the light in? What about the windows for some good, old-fashioned ventilation? Silverfish are nocturnal creatures that thrive in darkness.
If your bedroom is usually on the darker side and it has lots of dark corners and other nooks and crannies to hide in, it will be a very attractive place for silverfish to hunker down.
Some people think silverfish like it cool. Some think silverfish like it hot. But silverfish actually prefer warm temperatures, typically between 71° to 90°F.
The chances are your bedroom is just about that. The average room temperature in most homes is between 68° and 76°. If it’s hot outside or you have the heating on, it’s probably a little bit warmer, making it the perfect climate for a silverfish.
It’s full of food
On top of the above factors, there are other things you may have in your room that is attracting silverfish. Mainly, things that are food for a silverfish, like:
- Wallpaper. If your room has wallpaper, the glue that holds it to the wall can make a delicious snack for silverfish, thanks to its starch content.
- Books and papers. Silverfish love to eat cellulose. If you have books and magazines lining the walls of your bedroom, by your bedside, or scattered around your room, that’s like a carb-y buffet for silverfish.
- Cardboard boxes. If you use cardboard boxes to store clothes or other personal belongings in the closets of your bedroom, that can be a prime spot for silverfish nests. Cardboard is a great place for silverfish to live, eat, and breed.
As you can see, there are a lot of things in a typical human bedroom that can be attractive for silverfish. Even that stack of boardgames you have on your shelves can be a vital silverfish food source.
Why are there silverfish in my bed?
Okay, that’s fair, you say. Your bedroom meets all the conditions: it’s humid, it’s dark, it’s warm, and it’s got things for silverfish to eat. So that’s why silverfish have moved in.
But why are they in your bed?!
It’s simple: there’s food to eat there, too. Silverfish love carbohydrates, but they’ll also eat protein and sugar. In short, they’ll eat almost anything. That includes a number of things that may be found on your bed, like:
- Crumbs from a late-night snack.
- Human debris, aka the stuff that you shed, including dead skin cells, scabs, hair, and even dandruff.
- House dust mites are invisibly tiny bugs that live off human detritus and are typically found in beds. They also make a yummy snack for silverfish.
- Fabrics like bedsheets can be a food source for silverfish, especially if they’re made of cotton, linen, or silk. This goes double if the fabrics have been starched (great carb source for silverfish) and are stained with food, body oils, or sweat.
As you can see, the typical human bed provides an endless banquet of food options for a silverfish.
But it’s not just food. A human bed can also provide lots of hidden nooks and crannies for silverfish to bed down in.
You see, silverfish are not unlike cockroaches in their choice of environment and physical makeup. Both creatures are fairly small, tactile and squeeze their frames into ridiculously tight spaces for shelter or because they’ve detected some food source.
In the case of your bed, these small places can be the little spaces between your mattress and bed frame. It could even be within the mattress itself.
Silverfish typically like undisturbed places so ask yourself: when is the last time you flipped your mattress? If you can’t remember, that’s a long enough chunk of time for a silverfish infestation to have taken hold.
How do you know if you have a silverfish infestation?
If you’ve found one silverfish, it’s a good sign of a silverfish infestation.
Even if you don’t see another one, remember that silverfish are nocturnal creatures who prefer to live their lives away from the prying eyes of giant lumbering behemoths of human beings.
A silverfish problem can go undetected for quite some time until more noticeable issues arise. Usually the signs present themselves in your books, adhesives, papers, boxes and clothing. Other clear signs of silverfish activity are yellowish stains from their body, small holes in paper or books and, sorry, fecal droppings.
It might be worth spending a little time doing some searching for yourself and perhaps airing out old stored materials or clothing just to be sure you don’t have any insect issues festering unbeknownst to you.
How to get rid of silverfish in bed
If you’ve found a creepy little silverfish getting cozy in your bed, you’re probably wondering how to make them go away.
It’s not just the shock and horror of finding a silverfish in bed. If you have an infestation of silverfish, it can be very damaging for your clothing, food reserves or books and papers. Not to mention your sanity.
So how do you get rid of them? Here’s how to get rid of silverfish in bed and keep them away from your bedroom for good.
#1. Lower the humidity
Yup, the first step to getting rid of silverfish in bed is to make sure that your bedroom is as inhospitable to silverfish as it can be.
The best way to do that is to reduce the humidity. You can easily do this by getting a dehumidifier that covers the square footage of your bedroom.
If the budget is tight right now, you can opt for moisture absorbers like the Vacplus Moisture Absorber Box. These are very affordable ways to quickly suck up excess moisture in small, enclosed spaces.
This one small step – reducing the humidity – will pay off massively in the long run, if not actually stop the problem in its tracks.
#2. Let the light in
Silverfish hate the light and noise, so the more exposed and bright their habitat becomes, the more likely they are to migrate somewhere cooler, darker and more private.
This doesn’t necessarily solve the overall silverfish infestation in the entire house. But will make your bedroom a lot less attractive for silverfish.
#3. Clean up
Silverfish aren’t caused by dirtiness – they can infest the cleanest of homes. But clutter and dust definitely help silverfish thrive.
So here’s your action plan:
- Clear up clutter. A buildup of clutter provides silverfish plenty of places to hide. Eliminate these nooks and crannies.
- Vacuum. Next, don’t let things stagnate or get too dusty or to go too long without a thorough vacuum session. The vacuum cleaner allows you to suck up silverfish, silverfish eggs, as well as the crumbs, dust, and debris that silverfish feed on. Make sure to get right in the corners and behind your furniture when you do get round to vacuuming. There’s no point doing half a job.
- Clean the bed. Start with throwing all your bedding into a hot wash to kill any silverfish and remove things like silverfish droppings and molted skin. Yuck. If there’s even the slightest chance that your mattress has been infested, we recommend sealing it up with a tight-zipping mattress encasement.
- Store properly. Keep your living space fresh and vibrant by storing things appropriately. That means throwing away cardboard boxes and opting for airtight plastic storage containers.
#4. Secure the bed
To make sure no silverfish get on your now clean bed, you can take several steps to secure your bed:
Move it away from the walls. Silverfish are great at climbing textured surfaces like walls. If your bed is up against a wall, a silverfish can easily gain access to it.
Keep all bedding off the floor. Another way silverfish can get access to your bed is by climbing up on blankets or comforters that are handing down to the floor. Don’t allow this to happen. Keep bedding off the floor.
Secure the bed legs. This is a precautionary step. If you’re worried about silverfish climbing up to your bed via the bed legs, you can place each of the bed legs inside of a glass Mason jar.
Silverfish are like spiders in that they’re unable to climb up smooth surfaces like glass or the porcelain of a bathtub.
#5. Create a silverfish barrier
If you want to make absolute sure that no silverfish can find its way to your bedroom, you can use diatomaceous earth to create a silverfish barrier.
Scatter the fine, all-natural dust along the baseboards of your bedroom to create a line around your room that no silverfish can cross without dying.
Next, sprinkle a light dusting of diatomaceous earth in strategic locations around your bedroom. Pay special attention to corners, underneath furniture (especially the bed), and inside nooks and crannies of closets.
#6. Lay out silverfish bait
Another good idea to get rid of silverfish in bed and in the bedroom is to lay out silverfish poison bait around places they’ll be tempted toward.
Think: dark corners in closets, underneath the bed, around books and magazines.
#7. Use silverfish repellents
Once you’ve established this rigorous regime of cleaning and airing everything out on a regular basis, you can start to use some silverfish repellents to truly make sure that no courageous stragglers are going to inhabit your bed.
You can get the essential oil yourself and mix with water to create a DIY silverfish repellent spray. Or you can buy a ready-made bottle like the Wondercide Indoor Pest Control Spray.
Use the spray directly on your bedding as well as under and around the bed. Also spritz around the room, especially in corners and dark nooks and crannies.
Make use of cedarwood. Cedarwood oil as well as the actual wood itself can be used to keep silverfish away. The scent of cedarwood isn’t just horrible for silverfish, it also works on a number of creepy crawlies while being non-harmful to mammals.
There you have it. By now, you should have a very good idea exactly how to get rid of silverfish in bed. And prevent it going forward. Now go take back your bedroom.