Random yellow stains with brown marks are the first signs of silverfish in bed. If they multiply in large numbers, they will leave tiny holes in your bedsheets, duvets, pillowcases or mattress cover.
Bedding accumulates warmth and moisture that attract silverfish. They breed and feed on dirty sheets, blankets, and duvets. If you find silverfish in a bed, wash the bedding, clean the bedroom and leave the windows open for aeration. Then sprinkle strong essential oils like lavender to repel them.
Even though they are never harmful to humans, silverfish can damage your bedding, especially if they are made of fabric and fibers. A bed provides perfect hiding spots within the mattress and bedframes where they can lay eggs.
Causes of silverfish in bed and bedroom
A bed offers the perfect conditions to sustain silverfish throughout their lifetime. Below are some of the reasons that explain why silverfish can live and breed in your bed.
Silverfish require warm and moist conditions for them to thrive. The moisture under your bed can increase if the bedroom is not well-ventilated or the airflow is poor. This will also make the mattress moist.
The heat released from your body at night and the bedroom’s temperature will warm the mattress. For example, if you already have silverfish in books kept around the bedroom in winter, they will be attracted to your bed due to warm conditions.
Silverfish can feed on bedding made from starch-based resinous solution. Therefore, dirty bedsheets and mattress covers can be a food source for them. They have a high preference for fabric and fiber. They will feed on mattresses, cushions, and pillowcases to extract starch.
If you always eat on your bed, food dropped there can attract silverfish. You might also be feeding them unknowingly. Surprisingly, silverfish can consume carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore the food crumbs are also food to them.
Naturally, silverfish prefer dark areas because they are sensitive to light. Light from within the room doesn’t reach under the bed or between the mattress and the bed frame. Therefore they can hide in/under a dirty bed.
Furthermore, cleaning under the mattress and the bed frames is rarely done. Therefore there is minimal disturbance in these areas. Hence the space between the mattress and the bed frames are perfect hiding spot.
Females will lay their eggs within the mattress and between the bed frames to protect their eggs since those areas are never disturbed. Hence their eggs will be laid and hatched safely.
Additionally, silverfish can also hide and breed under the bed. They can access the bedding from there as they breed and lay eggs. It is always dark and warm; if not regularly cleaned, there will be an infestation in the bedroom.
How to get rid of silverfish in bed
Their survival mainly depends on moist conditions. Therefore the best way to get rid of silverfish once and for all is to keep the bed clean and dry at all times. Here are other effective methods you can use.
1. Lower humidity in the bedroom
Silverfish require warm and humid places to survive, mate and lay their eggs. Lowering the humidity will make the environment around the bed unfavorable hence they will ot mate. This will consequently result in a low reproduction rate.
Begin by cleaning the bedroom. Then keep the bedroom windows open and run fans in to ensure that it is well-ventilated and dry. If possible, use effective dehumidifiers.
2. Maintain a clean bedroom
A clean bedroom means that there will be limited food sources for them. You can achieve cleanliness by washing the bedding and cleaning the entire bedroom. If they are in your bed, they are also in the closets, mats and rugs.
Vacuum any carpet on the bedroom floor at least once a week. This method will help curb their population by sucking their eggs together with any adult silverfish.
Stop keeping wet clothes inside the bedroom, as this increases the room’s humidity. Bed sheets and additional bedding like duvets should always be clean and dry. Aerate heaving bedding like blankets and duvets 3 times a week until they are gone.
3. Make and use citrus peel insecticide
This is one of the most effective methods used when it comes to repelling silverfish. Since they hate the strong smell of citrus, here is how to use it as a repellent. To make a citrus spray insecticide, you will need the following:
- 4 lemons
- 2 cups of ethanol
- A pot
- Spray bottle
Then use the following steps;
- Peel the lemons.
- Put them in a pot containing two cups of ethanol.
- Boil the mixture for about 10 minutes.
- Then let the mixture soak for about 12 hours for ethanol to extract limonene from the peels.
- Then place the mixture in a spray bottle.
- Spray the mixture around the bed.
- Close the windows and doors of the room to allow the smell to accumulate there.
4. Use diatomaceous earth
This powdery substance can be used to kill silverfish. It breaks their exoskeleton, causing them to die.
- Simply spread the powder between the bed frames and the mattress where they hide. Then the following day, vacuum up the powder with the dead silverfish.
Caution: while handling the powder, wear a protective mask since the powder irritates your lungs when inhaled.
5. Use an old wet newspaper to trap them
You can also use an old newspaper to trap the silverfish when they search for food in the dark. Here is how to make a homemade silverfish trap:
- Loosely roll up the newspaper and put it in an open container.
- Then sprinkle water on it to make it wet.
- Place it under the bed where silverfish can easily hide in it.
- After 3-4 days, burn the newspaper to get rid of the silverfish that stayed in it.
This trap can be placed under the sink while removing silverfish in bathrooms. Remember, if a washroom is in your bedroom, it is easy for an infestation to thrive, especially if it is never kept dry after use.
6. Sprinkle salt or borax
Salt will help dehydrate silverfish and eventually kill them. Simply sprinkle salt between the bed frames and the mattress where they hide. Then the following day, vacuum the salt together with the dead silverfish.
Clean areas between the mattress and bed frames, and then sprinkling salt or borax in between the bed frames can help. Those areas are hidden, giving them a perfect place to reside and lay their eggs without fear of disruption.
7. Get rid of silverfish eggs in and around the bed
The female lays about twenty eggs two to three times every day. The egg is 1 millimeter in length and is elliptical. When first laid, they are white and soft, but after a few hours of oxygen exposure, they toughen up and turn yellow.
For safety, the females will lay their eggs on or on the bedding and between the bed frames. This is because the areas are left undisturbed most of the time. Hence their eggs will be laid and hatched safely.
To get rid of their eggs, here is what you will need:
- A cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of boric acid powder
- Spray bottle
Steps on how to use it:
- Pour the powder into a spray bottle
- Add water to attain a solution form of the acid.
- Then spray the acid between the bed frames where they lay their eggs.
Be careful not to use anything you are allergic to on or around your bed when getting rid of silverfish. Always remember that you will spend the rest of the night there; some scents can linger around overnight and affect you.
Can silverfish get in your mattress?
Silverfish can get into mattresses if there are holes or gaps in them. Moist mattresses with dirty covers provide them with good habitat plus ready food.
The mattress is made of foam that those insects can convert into starch. The covers are also fabrics that silverfish can feed on. They poke holes inside the mattress while eating hence creating pathways within it. The holes create pathways within the mattress’s foam.
Silverfish’s eyes are sensitive to light. Therefore they are most likely to be under the mattress due to the dark conditions. Below are other potential hiding spots in your bed.
While hiding in the mattress, they can access food by eating foam. Also, it will be much easier for them to access food on the mattress while eating dirty sheets and pillow fabrics. They can also hide under their bed and access everything they need.
If this happens, the best action is to air the mattress in the sun for long hours. Also, wash all the bedding with hot water to kill them.
Does one silverfish mean an infestation?
Seeing one silverfish in your bed doesn’t necessarily mean an infestation. In fact, spotting one is a warning sign that your bed has developed moist conditions that attract them.
However, seeing them regularly indicates an infestation in your bed. Therefore it all depends on how often you see one on your bed. If a day cannot go by without seeing a silverfish on your bed, then you have an infestation that needs to be dealt with.
Will silverfish in bed crawl on you?
Even though they can accidentally crawl on you, silverfish are harmless to humans. They don’t bite, sting, or spread diseases. But this doesn’t mean they won’t crawl on you while sleeping.
They mostly get out of their hiding spots when it is dark to look for food. Hence there is a high chance that they might crawl on you while you sleep at night. But they pose no danger to you when this happens.
Does silverfish mean your bed is dirty?
Moist conditions mostly attract them. Therefore their infestation in your bed does not necessarily mean that it is dirty. It clearly indicates that your bed has developed moist conditions that attract them.
In most cases, irregular cleaning will result in an infestation. Therefore, a silverfish infestation in your bed means that it is dirty. The only solution, in this case, is to remove everything and do a serious cleaning. The bedding should be washed and left to dry before they are put back in place.
References include ADW: Lepisma saccharina, silverfish and The Pennsylvania State University under the title Common Urban Pests.
Calina Mabel has over 15 years of experience in the field of journalism and communications. Currently, Calina Mabel is the Content Writer for categories such as Cockroach, Ants, Bed Bugs, Mosquito, Rodent, Termite, and Flies on Pestweek.com. She aims to build content for these categories with a focus on providing valuable and accessible information to readers, in order to create the world’s largest knowledge community about Pests.
All content written by Calina Mabel has been reviewed by Emily Carter.