These days, it seems that bed bugs are getting all the press. Silverfish and firebrats, in comparison, are relatively harmless but extremely ugly and creepy. It doesn’t help matters that they love to congregate in cold, damp, and dark areas in your home, like under the bathroom sink and in the basement.
If you’ve recently spotted one of these wingless insects or are dealing with a silverfish infestation, you can find out how to get rid of silverfish with these ten simple methods.
Fortunately, silverfish don’t bite, and they don’t spread disease. They mainly like to hang out in your home and nibble on starchy items like glue, paper, cardboard boxes, book bindings, and dry goods, as well as dead skin cells.
Although they rarely do the same kind of damage that moths create, they are known to create holes in clothing and other textiles. Here’s how to get rid of silverfish naturally, without having to use harsh chemicals that are harmful to your family and that can damage the environment.
What Are Silverfish?
Lepisma saccharina, or the common silverfish, is a wingless insect that wriggles around when it moves. Silverfish bugs get their name because of its silvery color and strong resemblance to a fish. They rely mostly on carbohydrates to survive that come from starches and natural sugars.
Silverfish and their cousins the firebrats are nocturnal bugs that are usually between a half and one inch in length. They also have two long antennae at the back of their abdomens and have a set of eyes at the front of their bodies.
Firebrats and silverfish are considered to be some of the most damaging insects because of their ability to multiply quickly and destroy property. They will continuously feast on whatever food sources they find in the house and are quick to move around the rest of the house in search of more food.
Over the course of their lifetime, an adult silverfish can have as many as sixty-six offspring. If you have silverfish in your house, they are likely seeking food, a better environment, or more space to grow their population.
Silverfish find their way into homes through cracks and gaps around doors, windows, and walls, as wells as through foundation cracks. They can even find their way inside on boxes or bags from other infested locations. Once they see a hospitable place, they will likely remain there until you get rid of them.
How to Get Rid of Silverfish
A good cleaning of your home can help prevent a lone intruder from spawning an infestation. However, if your house is infested with silverfish, getting rid of them will require a combination of treatments including increased sanitary measures and chemical treatment.
If you find yourself dealing with an uninvited silverfish bug, or even worse, an infestation, you can get rid of silverfish in a variety of ways. You can choose to trap them, repel them, kill them with insecticides, or by making your home a less hospitable place.
With so many options, you’ll need to experiment and maybe even implement several of the techniques to eliminate the silverfish from your home altogether.
1. Trap the Silverfish in a Mason Jar
For any silverfish traps that you use to be effective, you have to determine where the insects are hiding. Since these pests are nocturnal, you may not notice them during the day, but you will undoubtedly be aware of their presence in your house because of what they leave behind.
Look for them in damp, dark areas with high humidity and check for small spots of excrement that resemble black pepper.
Once you’ve located the area in your home where the silverfish live, you can start to set out homemade traps. Get a quart-sized mason jar or another glass container, and wrap the outside of the glass jar with masking tape. In a bottom of the jar, place a piece of bread. Place the jar in the area where you suspect the silverfish are living.
2. Trap Silverfish with Newspaper
Since silverfish’s favorite foods include starchy carbohydrates, like glue, paper, flour, and rolled oats, you can use a newspaper to trap them and get them out of your house.
Roll up a newspaper and place elastic bands over the ends. Moisten the newspaper roll and, before you go to bed, put it where you find silverfish leavings. The next morning, you should discover that the silverfish have eaten their way into the newspaper.
Without unrolling it, throw the newspaper out, or burn it. Repeat this process every evening, until you don’t see any more signs of the pest.
3. Use Store Bought Traps
If you don’t have any newspaper and don’t want the silverfish to touch your glassware, you can also trap these household pests with store-bought silverfish traps. Similar to gnat traps, any of the sticky traps you can find at your local home store will work.
You can also opt to buy a “roach motel” or the smaller traps and set them around your house. These work best if you bait them with small pieces of bread or other starches.
How to Kill Silverfish
If you find that your home has become infested with silverfish, there are several ways that you can deal with the pesky insects. Some of these techniques use non-toxic ingredients to kill silverfish over time, while others use commercial chemicals to kill them on contact.
Whether you are looking for a natural way to kill these insects or want to eradicate them from your home immediately, there’s a product for you.
4. Use Diatomaceous Earth
A great way to address a silverfish problem is with food-grade diatomaceous earth. The powdery substance is comprised of a ground-up fossilized material that contains sharp edges that can puncture the exoskeletons of insects.
When the sharp-edged grains puncture the insects’ exoskeletons, the powder begins to dry out the bugs, leaving them to die of dehydration. You can use diatomaceous earth for silverfish or any other kind of crawling insect, like ants and bed bugs.
To use diatomaceous earth to kill silverfish, lightly sprinkle the powder in your kitchen cabinets, along baseboards, and anywhere else where they may be lurking before you go to bed. In the morning, you can vacuum up the diatomaceous earth along with the dead insects. Since diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring organic product, it is safe to use around children and pets.
5. Using Boric Acid to Kill Silverfish
Boric acid is another natural substance that will kill both silverfish and their eggs. You can sprinkle it along the baseboards in your home, under the bathtub, and any other area that you notice signs of a silverfish infestation.
When applying the boric acid, take the necessary precautions not to inhale the product because it can be extremely toxic to the lungs. You will also want to avoid using it where your pets might get into it.
6. Use a Chemical Spray with Liquid Pyrethrin
Pyrethrin insecticide is a natural derivative of the pyrethrum daisy and contains nerve toxins that kill insects on contact. Although it is an organic substance, pyrethrin-based pesticides are still toxic to mammals, which means you have to be careful when using in a house with children and pets.
Like with the boric acid and diatomaceous earth, you want to spray the insecticide along the baseboards and in any cracks, as well as anywhere else that you have found evidence of silverfish. You don’t want to apply this in your kitchen cabinets or around food sources, because of its toxicity.
7. Propoxur to Kill Silverfish
Like pyrethrin, propoxur is effective against a variety of insects. Available in powder or liquid form, it will kill adult silverfish on contact, but won’t help to eradicate any of their eggs.
For that reason, you will have to use propoxur over an extended period, especially if you are dealing with a severe infestation. Since propoxur is a toxic chemical, you need to carefully read the application instructions and take the necessary precautions when handling the product.
8. Baking Soda to Kill Silverfish
One of the cheapest and most effective remedies you can use for controlling silverfish is baking soda. To kill silverfish with baking soda, add some to a bowl with one cup of water and a tablespoon of honey. Stir the ingredients thoroughly until the components form a paste.
Apply the paste to several small pieces of cardboard and place them in areas where the silverfish like to lurk. The silverfish will consume the mixture, and the baking soda will work to dehydrate them. This method works great in hard to reach places, especially bookshelves.
How to Repel Silverfish
If you are looking for a non-toxic product to repel silverfish, you may want to start with what’s in your kitchen cabinet. There are several inexpensive products that you probably already have that are extremely useful when it comes to silverfish control. All of these methods are non-toxic, so they are safe to use around children and pets.
9. Cedar Shavings
An excellent silverfish repellent is cedar wood. Silverfish and spiders can’t stand the smell of cedar, so you can keep them away from your home by sprinkling the product in areas where they live.
Since the shavings can create quite a mess, you may want to limit their use to areas outside, in the basement or other places where you don’t mind having wood shavings scattered around. Every week vacuum them up and replace them with fresh shavings.
You can also dilute cedar essential oil with water and apply it with a sprayer to the cracks and crevices. The smell that the oil emits is noxious to the silverfish, as well as other common household insects. Silverfish have the same kind of reaction that we have with ammonia. Spraying this around your house on a regular basis will help to create a barrier that will keep the silverfish from re-entering your home.
10. Strong-Smelling Spices
Strongly smelling herbs and spices have been shown to be extremely useful in repelling silverfish. You can create little sachets that contain generous helpings of bay leaves, cloves, dried rosemary, or cinnamon sticks and place them throughout your kitchen cabinets.
Keeping strong-smelling herbs and spices in your kitchen is a great and safe way to keep these insects out of your food.
11. Lavender or Citrus Spray
Just like when you want to repel and get rid of gnats, both citrus and lavender are strong scents for repelling silverfish, and they are safe to use around the home. Take some lavender or citrus essential oils and dilute several drops with water. Pour the solution in a spray bottle and liberally spray in the areas where you don’t want silverfish.
These kinds of sprays are best in drawers, closets, and other bedroom areas in your home.
How to Prevent Silverfish
In this article, we’ve discussed various ways to trap, repel, and kill silverfish, but the best way to live free of these pesky insects is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place.
Since silverfish are looking for a specific set of conditions, you can take the necessary steps to make your home an unwelcoming place for these creatures.
12. Dehumidify Your Home
Since silverfish love to live in damp places, a sure fire way to keep them out of your home is to reduce the humidity levels inside your house. You can purchase a dehumidifier from your local big box store to try and lower the humidity in your home, or if you want to save some money, merely run the air conditioner or keep the fans on.
This will substantially lower the humidity enough to keep these pests moving on to damper locations.
13. Seal Up Food
The last thing you want in the morning is to pour yourself a bowl of cereal only to find it swimming with silverfish. To keep silverfish from invading your pantry, seal your dry goods like pasta, rice, cereal, flour, sugar, quinoa, and pet food in airtight containers. Keeping these kinds of food adequately sealed with help to keep silverfish from reaching these tempting foods and spoiling your meal.
14. Seal up Cracks and Crevices
The cracks and crevices in your home can not only allow silverfish to enter your home, but they also become great places for them to lay their eggs. If your house is full of damp, dark crevices or cracks, use caulk to fill the gaps and keep silverfish out.
Apply the caulk to not only the cracks and crevices but along baseboards as well. It is extremely important to do this in the basement, kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
15. Fix Leaky Pipes
If you have leaky pipes in your home, you’re providing silverfish with the perfect environment to invade. Leaky pipes, when left untreated help to provide favorable living conditions for these wingless insects.
Take the time to go through your home and repair any leaky pipe, faucet, or drain that you find. If you remove the favorable condition, they’ll find a better place to stay.
16. Remove Food Sources from the Home
To keep silverfish from finding their way in your house, keep your floors clear of the foods they enjoy snacking on. Don’t leave piles of books on the floor, and don’t let your dirty laundry sit for too long. Make sure that you store cardboard boxes on shelves rather than on the floor, and replace old wallpaper with new wallpaper or paint. If you store your out-of-season clothes in a dark closet or basement, place them in plastic bags instead to keep the silverfish out.
17. Vacuum Often
Not only does vacuuming your floors keep their preferred food sources down, but it will also suck their eggs out of the carpet and baseboards. If you want to keep silverfish out of your home, you should vacuum your floors once a week.
You can dry out your carpets if necessary, by sprinkling baking soda over the surface and leaving it for several hours before vacuuming it up. Doing this will dry out the eggs so you can vacuum them up.
18. Clean up Clutter
Silverfish love to hide and feast on old papers, books, and newspapers. If you tend to hold onto every piece of paper, then you may want to start clearing things out. Start by getting rid of the items that you haven’t looked at for a while.
If there are things that you can’t bear to get rid of, store them in air-tight bins, especially if you are planning to keep them in the basement or attic.
While silverfish are a bit creepy and somewhat awkward to eliminate, they do not bite and are not venomous. Even so, removing the silverfish as soon as they are identified should be a priority to keep them from damaging your home and possessions.
These pest control methods for silverfish control are incredibly useful, and many of them are non-toxic making them the perfect solution for getting rid of silverfish in your home.
We hope you enjoyed learning about how to get rid of silverfish with these 18 effective solutions. If you found the information in this article useful, please don’t hesitate to share it with all your friends and family.