Actually their correct name is “silverfish”, but in common usage they are better known as “silverfish”. Their silvery or mother-of-pearl scales give rise to their name, but it is their feeding behavior that gives them their technical term “Lepisma saccharina”: It translates as “sugar guest” – because they need sugar to survive. They feed not only on organic waste such as hair and skin flakes, but also on starchy foods such as flour, grains or pastries. So it’s hardly surprising why insects feel particularly comfortable in human households. Where exactly and why you don’t necessarily have to fight all silverfish is explained below.

In Central Europe, silverfish live mainly in heated living spaces – preferably where it is not only nice and warm but also humid: in the bathroom, in the kitchen or in the rooms where you hang up your damp laundry. The absolute comfort temperature is between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius, but if it gets too hot (from 35° C), they die. However, if the temperatures fall below ten degrees, the insects become inactive. If it is too dry, silverfish can no longer reproduce: a female lays up to 20 eggs.

You rarely or never see silverfish during the day because the animals are afraid of light and become active at night. For this reason, they hide wherever it is dark: in cracks or joints or behind skirting boards or wallpaper. If you catch the insects in the act, scurrying across the floor or disappearing behind the wall, you don’t have to panic immediately – because the fact is that the animals are neither harmful to your health nor a sign of poor hygiene. On the contrary: silverfish are actually useful.

Some infestations, such as those of food moths, should definitely be combated, as the insects contaminate food and their droppings can trigger allergies and gastrointestinal diseases. Silverfish, on the other hand, are not harmful to our health; instead, they even have a practical benefit: apart from the fact that they eat house dust mites and are therefore good for allergy sufferers, a heavy infestation can indicate a moisture problem in the apartment – because silverfish also eat fungal spores. If the insects are present in high numbers, you should examine your four walls for possible mold infestation.

Even though silverfish are harmless in principle, insects still make many people feel disgusted. Therefore, you can take preventative measures to prevent the animals from feeling comfortable in your home and running away:

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