Extreme Cases of Silverfish Damage

Silverfish have a reputation for being the mortal enemy of libraries, museums, galleries, and pretty much anywhere that keeps important paper-based documents.

However, it isn’t just paper these little beasts can wreak havoc on, as you’ll discover in this article.

Silverfish are widely known to destroy property and terrorize lives. Carry on reading to learn how such tiny creatures have gained their fearsome reputation and what precautions you can take to halt them.

  • Silverfish damage to UK apartment blocks
  • Silverfish thriving during pandemic lockdowns
  • What do silverfish eat?
  • Silverfish can signify other damage
  • Silverfish precautions

Silverfish Cause Damage to UK Apartment Blocks

Worries of silverfish destroying essential paper documents and historical artefacts are one thing, but it is a whole different ball game when they begin to destroy structures and people’s homes.

This is exactly what was reported in this DailyEcho article in March of 2021. Tenants of an apartment block in Southampton, England, spoke of “going through hell” as silverfish invaded their homes.

Unfortunately, the units inside the building were apparently damp and mouldy, which are conditions silverfish absolutely thrive in.

As a result, people’s homes became infested, and silverfish were found almost everywhere. One tenant said they had “found silverfish in their beds, kitchen cupboards, wardrobes, baths, and sinks.”

Severe damage had been done with holes in the roof and walls falling apart. It is unclear whether this damage was caused directly by the silverfish or the ongoing mould and damp problem.

However, silverfish tend to find their way into homes initially due to such damage, and they are known to destroy other household items like curtains, carpets, and wallpaper.

As tenants of the infested apartments found out, it can be an absolute nightmare once pests like silverfish take hold and begin to breed.

Silverfish Thriving As a Result of Lockdowns

Another recent example of how easy it can be for silverfish to run amok inside public places comes as a result of pandemic lockdown measures.

As a result of the pandemic, many art galleries and museums have been forced to close their doors or operate at severely limited capacities for a period.

Empty museums might not seem like much of a problem, but these undisturbed spaces make it even easier for bugs like silverfish to breed and thrive. The regular activity from the public does a good job of warning off potential pests.

In addition, fewer employees were working during lockdowns, so exhibits couldn’t be monitored as closely as they would have been under normal conditions.

An article by theartnewspaper.com reports on the threat of the grey silverfish and how they have been spreading throughout museums across London. Here is a couple of interesting quotes directly from the article:

“A lot of regional organizations rely on their collections being checked by volunteers, many of whom have been shielding and not able to come in,” says Bryony Robins, the creative director at Royal Cornwall Museum.

“Areas normally open to the public are also at risk,” adds Nick Booth, the head of collections at SS Great Britain Trust.

“We used to have to worry about objects being damaged by visitors; now we’re worried because they’re not here to ward off the pests.”

The same article also briefly mentions how it isn’t just museums and galleries that are having problems with silverfish; restaurants are also seeing an increase in pest activity after being left empty during the lockdowns.

What Will Silverfish Eat?

The majority of people who know of silverfish are aware of their threat to museums and galleries because of their taste for paper products. Unfortunately, paper isn’t the only thing on the menu for these minuscule beasts.

Silverfish eat a whole variety of household products and are naturally attracted to sugar and starchy carbohydrates. The bugs can find sources of sugars and starches in items like books, paintings, photographs, and wallpaper.

As well as the sugar and starches, these bugs will seek out protein-rich items like grains and even dried-beef products. Other foods they have commonly been found to munch on include grains, oats, cereals, pet food, and baking flour.

Aside from obvious food items that contain the nutrients silverfish require, a host of your household belongings are at risk because they also contain nourishment for silverfish.

Clothing, curtains, and toothpaste are a few examples of day-to-day belongings you might be horrified to find silverfish nibbling on.

A Silverfish Infestation Could be a Sign of Other Problems

Sometimes, the damage caused by the silverfish themselves is only part of the story. In many cases, the presence of silverfish can be an indicator of other problems or damage.

For example, silverfish can’t gnaw their way into your home, so they must have got in through holes somewhere. It is often holes caused by water damage that allow these creatures to gain entry to properties. 

Not only do the silverfish thrive in wet, damp conditions, but a whole host of other unwanted pests could become problematic if damage caused by excess water isn’t rectified.

If you’ve noticed silverfish in your home, make sure you check the area for signs of leaking or water running into your home.

Taking Precautions to Avoid a Silverfish Infestation

As a result of the problems discussed earlier, and faced by post lockdown conditions, museums and galleries are stepping up their silverfish prevention measures.

Of course, it is too late once important items or documents have been damaged, so preventing an infestation is critical. Alongside regular cleaning protocols, several businesses implement strategies to educate staff on finding silverfish and similar pests before they become a problem.

You can also protect your home and belongings by taking similar measures to significantly reduce the chances of silverfish becoming an issue. The steps below outline some of the most valuable actions you can take.

Educate yourself on the signs of silverfish presence

You’ll only know you have a potential problem on your hands if you first understand the signs to look for.

The most obvious sign of an infestation is the damage left behind by the culprits. Silverfish nibble at paper items and clothing, leaving holes similar to those found when pigs chew leaves.

Check and quarantine paper items

Quite often, silverfish problems start when someone brings items that have already been infested into their home – for example, second books.

Before you bring any such items inside, you should always check them for signs of a pest infestation. Any items that you do find with silverfish damage on them must be removed from your home to reduce the chances of a spread.

Silverfish-proof your home

One of the very best ways to stop silverfish from causing chaos in your home is to create an environment they aren’t able to thrive in.

Reducing humidity is step one since silverfish do best in damp, humid conditions. Dehumidifiers and fans are an easy way to keep the air in your home from becoming damp, which is where silverfish are likely to flourish.

Keep your papers, books, and documents sealed where possible. Using sealed containers to store your paper items like books and magazines will stop silverfish from finding them and using them as a food source.

Keeping papers sealed is especially important if you’re storing them in basements and attics where the conditions are more suitable for silverfish breeding.

An infestation becomes a major problem when the pests are able to lay their eggs and breed successfully. Therefore, regular and thorough cleaning is critical. Not only will cleaning eradicate any silverfish that are already present but you can clean up any eggs they might have laid and stop them from multiplying.

Use deterrents

There are a few items and substances you can place around areas that have a higher potential for silverfish to invade.

  • Spices – Sage, Cloves, and bay leaves all give off a scent that silverfish can’t stand. If you have seen the insects, you can put these spices in those places or you can place some packets of the spices around your home as a preventative measure.
  • Cucumbers – Just like the spices, cucumbers also have a scent that silverfish hate so you can use some slices of the vegetable if you need a quick and simple method for deterring the bugs.
  • 100% citrus essential oils – You can make a very effective deterrent spray by mixing citrus-scented essential oils with some water.
  • Diatomaceous earth – This is a widely used and naturally occurring powder made from the sediment of fossilized water plants like algae. It is less of a deterrent since it simply dehydrates and kills silverfish. Nevertheless, it can be extremely effective when sprinkled in problem areas around your home.

Regularly inspect likely areas

Being proactive gives you the best chance of keeping your home free of silverfish and other unwanted creatures.

You should come up with a regular schedule for checking potential “hot spots” for silverfish. Check around any locations where you keep paper items. You can even buy purpose-built silverfish traps to leave around these areas.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

Does Lysol kill Silverfish? The Facts And Results

How to Get Rid of Silverfish – 5 Minute Guide
Pest Control or Exterminator: Seven Key Things You Need to Know Before Choosing

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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