How to get rid of silverfish in your home

Have silverfish in your home? Here’s how to get rid of them

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Bugs are never a welcome sight, but there’s just something about spotting a silverfish that makes your skin crawl. These small, silver insects have flat, scaly bodies, allowing them to easily slither through cracks.

If you’ve suddenly got a silverfish problem on your hands, TODAY Home consulted the pros to find out why they come inside, how to get rid of them and how to keep them from coming back again.

Why do I have silverfish in my house?

Finding a few stray bugs at home is totally normal, but when you start noticing them more often, you might begin to wonder: Why are creepy crawlers suddenly inside? In the case of silverfish, they’re often attracted to damp areas.

«In nature, they are typically found under leaf litter and in caves or similar areas. They typically enter homes through cracks and crevices on the ground level and are attracted to cool, damp areas such as basements,» said Chelle Hartzer, board-certified entomologist and technical services manager for Orkin.

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Silverfish need high humidity to survive and prefer warm, dark places. As a result, they typically gather in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room and garage.

«They also eat carbohydrates and protein, so materials such as flour, cardboard boxes, ​magazines, books, newspaper, dead insects, dead skin cells and some types of fungi,» said John M. Kauffman, a technical services manager with Terminix.

Is it bad to have silverfish?

Luckily, silverfish are mostly harmless, unless you’re an avid reader.

«Silverfish do not carry any diseases relevant to people. They are herbivores and when they are found inside, they usually feed on starchy items, such as old book bindings, paper products and other old moldy items. They can damage books, cardboard and other similar items, but the feeding damage is usually secondary to the moisture issues that have opened up the food source,» Hartzer said.

These pesky bugs aren’t known to bite humans, but since they molt and shed, their scales can mix with dust and potentially trigger allergic reactions in some people. They can also contaminate food and stain clothing.

How to get rid of silverfish?

Silverfish rarely build up to infestation levels, and you can keep them away with your run of the mill cleaning routine.

  • Break out the vacuum: «Regularly vacuum carpet, floors and upholstered furniture to help ​keep silverfish at bay. Vacuuming helps remove these pests as well as eggs they may have laid. Be sure to empty the vacuum outside to help prevent insects from entering into your home,» Kauffman said.
  • Check your humidity levels: Looking for another natural way to kill silverfish? Try drying out your home with a dehumidifier. It’ll deter silverfish since they love damp areas!
  • Does salt kill silverfish? Many DIY hacks believe salt is a cure-all for removing silverfish, and while it can occasionally help your cause, it’s not a perfect method. Plus, sprinkling salt all over the house can cause quite a mess and potentially attract other insects. «While some suggest using salt to kill silverfish, it’s not recommended,» Kauffman said.
  • Call the pros: If your silverfish problem persists, you can always consult a local pest control professional to help identify potential sources and help prevent future infestations.

How to keep silverfish away?

If you’re hoping to keep silverfish away, there are a few prevention methods to help discourage them from coming back.

  • Create a barrier: «Seal openings that may let them in such as broken door seals, basement windows that aren’t completely tight and other ground level openings,» Hartzer said.
  • Control your moisture level: «To help keep silverfish out, you should remove the things that attract them or allow them in. Reduce moisture by repairing any leaks and removing sources of standing water or condensation,» Kauffman said.
  • Keep up your cleaning routine: Despite our best efforts, sometimes insects come inside, but regular vacuuming can certainly help keep silverfish at bay.

How to Protect Your Home From Silverfish Infestation?

Silverfish are creepy little silvery nightmare creatures that you can often find in the dark, damp corners of your home. They are harmless to us and our pets, but that doesn’t make them any less creepy. They are a natural disaster for books, clothing, and anything else which contains starch.

Unlike other household pests, they are slow to establish infestation levels of terribleness but, once they get to that point, they are incredibly difficult to control and remove. Thankfully, there are methods of getting rid of these Lovecraftian nightmares. Keep reading to find out how.

Why do silverfish invade your home?

Like most pests, silverfish like to invade our homes because there is an abundance of food and a lack of predators. Human homes also have a lot of dark, damp hiding places where they can live their little creepy nocturnal lives. All of these elements combined make for a silverfish paradise where they can eat as much as they want, live without the fear of being hunted, and cause adults to scream like children when they run over their foot in the dark.

How to get rid of silverfish infestation

There are quite a few methods of getting rid of silverfish but, for the best results, you should use a mix of preventative measures and extermination methods. Here is a mix of natural and chemical methods that rid you of silverfish:

  • Spread cedar shavings. Spread cedar shavings around areas you want to keep silverfish away from. They don’t like the smell and will naturally avoid those areas. Since wood shavings are a little bit messy, it is best to put them in places you can’t see them, unless you always dreamed of living in a sawmill, of course. Vacuum or sweep the shavings up once a week and replace them until you stop seeing silverfish.
  • Lay jar traps. For this to work, you will need some jars, masking tape, and torn up pieces of bread. Wrap your jars in masking tape all the way to the top and put the bread inside the jar,. Before you go to bed, place the jars in areas that you suspect are good silverfish hunting grounds. The masking tape will allow the nightmarish bugs to climb into the jar, but the smooth glass will prevent them from climbing out.
  • Apply essential oils. Just like most insects, silverfish cannot stand the smell of lemon and lavender. Buy a bottle of either lavender oil or citrus oil and dilute it in a larger bottle of water. Shake the bottle well and spray this mixture around places that are likely to attract silverfish, such as under sinks, in cupboards, and the edges of rooms. The great thing is that this method is non-toxic for us, so spray to your heart’s content.
  • Powder diatomaceous earth. This powder is one of the ultimate weapons against anything that creeps and crawls. The powder is incredibly sharp and is able to pierce their tiny exoskeletons. If, on the other hand, they eat it, their bodies will shut down from the inside out. All you need to do is spread Diatomaceous Earth everywhere silverfish are likely to appear, wait one night, and then vacuum the aftermath.

Wear a face mask when spreading the powder. If you have pets or small children, you will need to ensure that the powder-treated areas are inaccessible. The reason for these precautions is that Diatomaceous Earth can irritate our lungs and may lead to further complications. Although it is non-toxic, it is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Roll up newspapers. This is another simple, yet effective homemade trap. Roll up some newspapers and place an elastic band on each end to hold it in shape. Dunk the rolls in water or hold them under a running tap until they are moist, but not wet enough to turn into a grey mush. Before you go to bed, place the rolls around your home in places where silverfish congregate. They will be attracted by the moisture, food source, and shelter. In the morning, collect all of your traps and either throw them away or burn them to exact your wrathful vengeance. Don’t unroll the newspaper before doing this, otherwise they will escape.
  • Buy commercial gel traps. There are many commercial traps available. Some are natural, whereas others contain pesticides. If you use the commercial option, place the traps in the same areas mentioned above (focus on dark, damp places). Dispose of the traps according to the instructions on the package.
  • Put spice packets. Another smell-based method. Putting your spices into your cupboards is a great way to repel silverfish, as well as make your cupboards smell nice. Silverfish can’t stand strong-smelling spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, and any other overpowering spices.
  • Use boric acid. This powder is a natural substance and another anti-insect super weapon. It will kill both the silverfish and their eggs. Spread it around the areas controlled by the silverfish before going to bed and vacuum it up in the morning. You may need to repeat this process until they are all gone. When using boric acid, always wear a face mask and make sure that any pets or children do not come into contact with it. This powder is toxic for adults, children, and animals. Inhaling it will require immediate medical attention.
  • Resort to pesticides. The last option available is to use good old pesticides. Look for a pesticide which contains liquid pyrethrin as this is highly effective at killing silverfish. This spray is suitable to use everywhere except for your kitchen and pantry, as well as anywhere children and pets can access since it is highly toxic.

How to prevent silverfish from invading

The best way to get rid of silverfish is to stop them from invading your home in the first place. There are a few things you can do to deter them.

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Silverfish love to live in moist, humid places. Try reducing the humidity in your home by using a dehumidifier, fixing leaky pipes, or closing the shower curtain so it can dry out. The lower the humidity, the better. You can also try placing packets of silica in the corners of cupboards to help remove moisture from the air.

Store foods, such as cereal, pasta, sugar, and pet food in airtight containers. This makes sure that silverfish can’t get to your food and that you don’t accidentally eat the silverfish.

Clear away any clutter, such as old newspapers and magazines. Silverfish like to play hide and seek and will eat up your papery clutter.

Fill in any holes or cracks with caulk to seal up silverfish entry points. If there are any areas in your home where the wallpaper is peeling, either repair or remove it. The starchy wallpaper glue is like a Michelin-starred banquet for silverfish.

Try to keep the temperature of your home around 26 degrees Celsius or above. This will help to drive moisture out of the air and silverfish don’t like such high temperatures.

Difference between a silverfish and a firebrat

It is easy to get these two disturbing insects mixed up as they look almost identical. The biggest difference between the two is the colouring. Silverfish are solid silver/grey in colour, whereas firebrats are browny/orange in colour. Regardless of which one you find in your home, the ways to get rid of both are the same. You can read about what other bugs look like silverfish.


So there we have it, your guide to getting rid of the stuff of nightmares – the silverfish. Basically, keeping your home dry, clean, and warm, as well as placing packets of spice in your cupboards will dramatically increase your chances of deterring silverfish and prevent them from adopting your home as theirs.

Anyway, if nothing sorted the problem out, the most efficient way for you to exterminate the silverfish is by calling a professional pest treatment. The experts have the appropriate experience, know-how and equipment to save you time and efforts when dealing with the silverfish infestation.

Need a professional help to deal with the silverfish infestation?

How to Get Rid of Silverfish for Good (5 Best Ways)

If you’re dealing with silverfish in your home you probably already know the amount of damage they can cause.

Silverfish are known to be a destructive best, and for many homeowners, the last draw is when they destroy precious possessions, including clothing, books, papers, and wallpaper.

The good news is, in the rest of this article, I’m going to show you how to get rid of silverfish for good!

Below, I’ve listed my favorite silverfish control products as well as some proven natural remedies. If you have any questions about how to use them effectively after reading this guide, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments.

Quick Navigation: What’s in This Guide?

Silverfish consume carbohydrates and can feed on shampoo, linen and silk, and have even been found in unopened food packages. They are small and wingless, often compared to earwigs and firebrats. As their name suggests, silverfish are typically silver in color, other than when they are first hatched, when they are closer to white. Their bodies are also tapered in a way that looks sort of like a fish, and they wiggle when they move in a fishlike manner.

Cluttered, damp or warm environments are usually the catalysts for a silverfish infestation. The bugs are often found in areas such as basements and kitchens, where they can feed off of other insects and stay away from humans. They also love to snack on food particles, which is why they are attracted to kitchens, and can get into dry goods like cereal, flour, pet food, pasta or rice. Cracks or holes leading into these spaces provide an easy entrance for silverfish to crawl in.

Despite the havoc that they can wreak on your belongings, silverfish are not harmful to humans; they don’t bite, aren’t venomous and don’t carry diseases. They aren’t able to fly or run quickly on surfaces that aren’t horizontal. However, that doesn’t mean that they are welcome in your home. The things that attract silverfish can also bring in other insects, making your home a breeding ground for pests. Educating yourself on what silverfish are enticed by and how to avoid an infestation will help to keep your home clean, safe and free from all kinds of bugs.

Here are the Best Ways to Get Rid of Silverfish

1. Silverfish Traps (See Recommended Traps)

Dekko Silverfish Paks

Where to get it: You can get Dekko Silverfish Paks on Amazon here.

Dekko Silverfish Paks are paper envelopes that contain boric acid, which is poisonous for silverfish. The paks look similar to the small cracks that silverfish are attracted to, and the boric acid is mixed into a glue that the bugs like to feed on. This option is simple – one or two paks can be placed in the environment that the silverfish are in, such as under the sink or every few feet in a basement. They can also work preventatively, as long as they are replaced every three months.

Note: Traps like these are not typically an immediate solution for a large silverfish infestation. It may take a few weeks before an infestation really starts to get under control. They are much more useful in some cases than in others. You may want to use traps along with some of the other treatment methods (like the powder listed below) as more of a comprehensive approach to get rid of silverfish. Luckily most of these products are cheap and still much less expensive than calling in a professional. If do it yourself solutions fail, we do recommend calling an exterminator.

Even after you solved your silverfish problem, you may want to keep a few traps out as a preventive measure.

  • Easy to use
  • Can be used preventatively
  • Work for up to three months
  • No odor
  • Don’t leave residue

    Takes time before all silverfish are killed

Trapper Max Mouse and Insect Glue Boards

Trapper Max Glue Boards are perhaps one of the simplest pest traps to use. The boards are flat and have a sticky glue on one side, which is covered by a protective layer that is peeled off when ready to use, and trap any pest that walks across. They can also be folded into an open-ended box to protect the glue. One of the biggest benefits of using a glue board as a trap is that they do not contain any type of poison, and are safe to use around food and animals or in areas that prohibit poisonous insecticides. The original Trapper Max boards are peanut butter-scented to attract pests, but an unscented version is also available (Trapper Max FREE).

These traps are effective for many types of pests, and in your attempt to trap silverfish you will likely find other types of pest trapped as well. We have heard stories of people catching all kinds of pests including scorpions, spiders, and even mice. Some users also report issues with bugs they didn’t even know about before using these traps. For the money, these traps a great value considering how effective they are and the number of traps in each pack.

  • Can be used for many types of pests
  • Easy to use
  • Do not contain poison
  • Can be left flat or folded into a box

    Must be disposed of after one use

Terro T3206 Spider & Insect Trap

Where to get it: You can get Terro Insect Traps on Amazon here.

The Terro T3206 Spider & Insect Trap is used in a very similar manner to the Trapper Max glue boards. Each trap is flat with a sticky side, and can be folded into a tent-like shape to cover the glue. These traps are also insecticide-free and are safe to use in areas where poison should not be used. Compared to the Trapper Max boards, the Terro Spider & Insect Traps may not be suited for catching mice or rats, but users may choose to leave them out for a longer period of time if there is no dead rodent to dispose of. The traps can be used either on their own or with insect bait.

  • Can be used for many types of crawling insects
  • Easy to use
  • Do not contain poison
  • Can be left flat or folded into a tent
  • More expensive than Trapper Max traps
  • Must be disposed of after one use

2. Powders and Sprays (See Our Favorites)

Harris Famous Roach and Silverfish Killer Powder

Insect powders are one of the most popular forms of insecticides. Harris Famous Roach & Silverfish Killer Powder takes the process a step further by including a food-grade lure that will draw silverfish in. A duster can be bought along with the powder to make distribution easy, or the powder can be purchased as a tablet to reduce any mess. The powder kills any insects that come into contact within 72 hours, getting rid of silverfish, roaches, palmetto bugs and water bugs. It will also work for weeks after initial application, as long as it stays dry. Caution needs to be taken when using around children or pets – the product claims to be safe to use, but ingestion can be dangerous.

We find this powder to be extremely effective for silverfish and roaches. We often recommend a powder to be used in combination with glue traps.

  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with applicator or in tablet form
  • Contains poison
  • Powder may be messy
  • Dead insects aren’t contained in one area

Wondercide Natural Indoor Pest Control

Where to get it: You can get Natural Silverfish Spray on Amazon here.

Pesticide doesn’t have to make your house smell bad – Wondercide Natural Indoor Pest Control is a sprayable option that is made with essential oils, allowing customers to choose between peppermint, cedar, rosemary or lemongrass scents. Wondercide spray kills multiple types of insects, including silverfish, without the use of toxic chemicals. While attempting to gain control of a problem, homeowners should spray the pest control every 2-3 days until there are no signs of silverfish, then, they can reduce the frequency. For prevention, Wondercide can be sprayed every four weeks.

The pleasant scent of the Wondercide Natural Indoor Pest Control is regarded as one of its best aspects, but we also love how effective it is. In addition, people with pets or children are big fans of the fact that the spray does not contain toxic chemicals. The scent is helpful for knowing how often to spray the pest control – once it starts to wear off, it should be sprayed again – but those with a sensitivity to fragrance should take precautions.

  • Safe to use around food, pets and kids
  • Smells great
  • Works preventatively
  • Pricier than other pest control options
  • Needs to be sprayed every 2-3 days to gain control of an active problem

Home Remedies for Silverfish Control

One of the biggest downsides to store-bought pest control is that you have to choose between killing the insects with poison or trapping them, where you would then have to handle live insects to remove them from your house. However, you could have the solution to all of your silverfish problems already in your pantry. To avoid having to use traps or potentially dangerous chemicals to get rid of silverfish, look to natural remedies to repelling insects.

3. Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is possibly the most popular silverfish repellent available. It is made from the skeletons of diatoms, which are small aquatic organisms, and contains silica. Diatomaceous earth has been used as a pest control product for about 80 years. It’s typically viewed as one of the more natural solutions to pest control – when insects come into contact with the powder, it will attach to their exoskeletons and suck out any moisture, dehydrating and killing the bug. It can be sprinkled in low-traffic areas, particularly in any potential silverfish breeding grounds, and will continue to work as long as it is kept dry.

One of the primary reasons that diatomaceous earth is such a popular pesticide product is that it is non-toxic and safe to use around children, pets and people with compromised health. Despite that, homeowners should watch out for any contact with the powder. If inhaled, it can cause coughing, shortness of breath or irritated nasal passages. If it is touched, diatomaceous earth can irritate skin or eyes. Distributing the powder in low-traffic spaces where it is mostly kept away from children and pets is the best way to avoid any potential harm. Another downside to using diatomaceous earth is that it is slower to kill insects that poisons could be, but if ridding your house of silverfish isn’t urgent or if you have people or animals in your house that could easily come into contact with the poison, the non-toxic route may be the safest option.

4. Essential oils (See Recommended Oils)

Essential oils have been growing in popularity in recent years and are known particularly for having a wide range of uses. One of those many uses is as bug repellent. Depending on how they kill insects, essential oils can either be mixed into a spray and applied directly to the bugs (if they are killed from the oil itself) or sprayed in and around an area that could potentially attract bugs (if they are killed by the scent of the oil). Many oils can be used as insect repellent because of their strong scent, but orange, lavender, cinnamon, clove and cedar all stand out as great silverfish deterrents. Most of the oils do not actually kill silverfish, and therefore wouldn’t be as effective in getting rid of an infestation as they would be in avoiding bringing the bugs into your house.

Different scents can be combined to kill a wider range of bugs or to make a single solution more effective. Oils should be diluted with water, soap or vinegar in order to use them as a spray, if only to be sure the scent isn’t too strong for humans and pets. Exact recipes for essential oil sprays vary depending on how they will be used. Besides creating a spray, soaking cotton balls or fabric scraps with essential oils can create a makeshift diffuser. Sachets can be placed in areas where other insecticides could be too dangerous, like in a kitchen, hospital or around the beloved possessions that silverfish are attracted to, like books and clothing.

Orange oil is typically seen as one of the best natural insecticides as it contains d-limonene, which is not toxic for people but can erode the coating on a bug’s exoskeleton, thereby causing them to dry out and suffocate. In addition to orange oil, the scent of peppermint oil or tea tree oil can act as a powerful deterrent for silverfish.

Lavender oil is another popular option for a natural insect repellent. A teaspoon of lavender oil can be diluted with around one-quarter to one-half cup of water, poured into a spray bottle and sprayed into a closet, over a bookshelf or into carpet. In addition, wiping the mixture onto the walls of your house will create an extra barrier, and add a relaxing scent to every room.

5. Natural Spices (See Recommended Spices)

Cinnamon, clove and cedar essential oils can all be used to ward off silverfish, but so can the natural spices. Ground cinnamon can be made into a sachet, but whole sticks are more effective. They can be placed into the areas where silverfish would be attracted, such as under a kitchen or bathroom sink, in bookshelves or in a basement. The same can be done for whole cloves. Bookshelves or chests made of cedar can have a built-in silverfish repellent, as the scent of cedar is toxic to the bugs. However, if your shelves and chests are not made of cedar, or if you’d like to use the wood as a repellent in a different area, such as in your closet, cedar panels or balls can be purchased to add wherever you need them. You could also use cedar chips as mulch around your house to create a preventative barrier.

You could have another silverfish repellent already in your closet. Mothballs are known to be repulsive to silverfish, as well as a host of other pests, such as fleas or snakes. Nevertheless, using mothballs as pest control can come with other problems. They can be poisonous if ingested, so homes with children or pests should be particularly careful when choosing this insecticide option. They can also give off fumes that are toxic when inhaled; mothballs that are made in America contain either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which can both lead to bad side effects, and even kidney or liver damage if inhaled continuously for a long period of time.

Many people use mothballs as pest repellents outside of their house, usually in a garden. Because they are not in an enclosed space, they do not pose the same problems with inhalation as they would if they were used inside the house. They can, though, still harm any animals that eat them. In addition, the naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene used in mothballs can end up seeping into soil or groundwater, contaminating them and possibly even hurting the plants that they are trying to guard from predators.

Hiring a professional pest control technician

When all else fails, a professional exterminator may be the best option for ridding your house of silverfish. Of course, at-home methods may be cheaper and not as time-consuming as hiring a professional, but you may decide that chemicals, glue traps and fragrant solutions will not work best for your household. Or you may have tried all of the above options and still see silverfish scurrying across your floor. Exterminators can get rid of the problem, as well as issues with other pests, on top of inspecting your house to determine if there is an infestation in the first place. They can make sure that the members of your family will not be harmed in the process, and they can prevent pests from invading your house in the future.

Preventing a Silverfish Infestation

What’s the best way to get silverfish out of your house? Don’t let them get in in the first place. Prevention is fairly easy and often uses the same products that you would use to get rid of silverfish or other insects. The best way to begin preventing silverfish is to understand what it is that attracts them.

Silverfish may be able to get into your house if you bring in cardboard or plastic boxes that have been kept in a place that has already been infested. One of the simplest ways to prevent this is keeping track of the containers you bring into your home. Do you know where that box had been stored before you picked it up? If it’s questionable, you may want to look over the contents and the box itself to be sure there are no silverfish or silverfish eggs hiding out.

You could have silverfish eggs somewhere in your house without knowing that they’re there. In fact, you may have even seen them and not known what they are. Once the eggs hatch, you might have to deal with an infestation; it’s important to be able to recognize eggs to ensure this doesn’t happen. Silverfish can lay many eggs every single day – up to 20 eggs in a bunch, two or three times a day. The eggs are oblong, similar to the shape of a bird’s egg, and are soft and white when first laid, changing to be hard and yellow within a few hours.

In addition to knowing what the eggs look like, you must also know where to look for them. Because silverfish are attracted to tight spaces, their eggs will also be located in the tightest corners of your house. They could end up being covered in dust or other particles, hiding them from plain sight in areas like a basement, kitchen or even in your clothing drawers. To make matters worse, once the silverfish lay their eggs in a suitable area, they will give off pheromones to other silverfish to alert them to their location, bringing more bugs into the same place.

You could also prevent silverfish by making sure there are no attractive environments for them to flock to. Because they so often enter your home through whatever cracks and crevices they can find, you may choose to seal up any possible entrances. It’s important to examine your house with a keen eye to find any open cracks where bugs or other pests could climb through. Door closers, weather strips or caulk can seal your windows and doors. You may also choose to place screens over your windows if you like to open them. Be sure to check any pipes leading into your home for excess space around the opening where bugs could crawl in.

Silverfish love moist atmospheres, so you want to dry out any dampness that could attract them. Outside of your house, look for piles of leaves or any other wet refuse to avoid drawing silverfish closer to where you live. Inside, try adding dehumidifiers to your bathroom, basement, or any other rooms where moisture and humidity is common. Fans could also clear out humid air, especially in the bathroom where showers could create the ideal environment for silverfish. If you have a leak in your basement or bathroom where water can seep in, use caulk or hydraulic cement to patch them up and keep your house dry.

As dry goods are so appealing to silverfish, all food, particularly carbohydrates and starches, should be carefully stored, with extra care being taken to make sure they are correctly sealed and not accessible to tiny bugs. Clear dirty dishes as soon as possible – don’t leave them laying around long enough for insects to find them – and clean up any other food waste to avoid creating a buffet for silverfish. Sweeping and vacuuming floors regularly can keep your house clear of much of the debris that silverfish love.

Oftentimes, the products that are used to rid your house of a silverfish infestation can also be used to prevent them from ever coming in in the first place. You may choose to place traps or sprinkle insect-killing powder in low-traffic areas to capture and kill any possible invaders. If you have children, pets or health-compromised people in your home (or wherever you are trying to prevent silverfish invasions), be sure to understand what products you are buying and if they could present any health risks to the members of your household.

But sometimes it’s too late to take preventative measures – what happens when they’ve already crept into your house? Silverfish traps and powders are simple to use and often inexpensive.

One easy way to start narrowing down the many options of pest control is to decide if a non-toxic solution is needed, or if one with insect poison would be more convenient. Many insecticides use boric acid, which kills bugs but is harmful to humans and animals. When using around food, such as in a kitchen, around children or in a hospital, a non-toxic alternative may be much safer. Glue traps don’t contain harmful toxins, and other pest control (like the Wondercide Pest Control featured on the following list) do not use chemicals to kill pests.

Silverfish traps and killers can often be found at big-box stores, home improvement centers or online at websites like Amazon.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Silverfish aren’t an obscure pest – a simple search engine query can give you a long list of facts about the bugs or how to get rid of them. Many people have their own thoughts on how to best get rid of or prevent silverfish, but when looking for an effective insecticide or repellent, it’s important to know what information is correct and what is not. Certain solutions may not work for everyone, and you should know how severe your bug problem is, what to expect from the bugs and what the best way to get them out of your own house is before looking for a resolution.

Question: Can silverfish hurt me, my family or my pets?

Answer: While their bite marks can end up destroying some of your most favorite possessions, silverfish do not actually bite humans or other animals. In addition, they do not carry diseases or pathogens that could contaminate your food, and they do not sting. The primary reason for wanting them out of your home is to protect your personal items and, of course, avoid having creepy crawlies sleeping under the same roof that you do.

Question: Can silverfish swim?

Answer: The name “silverfish” makes many people think that these creatures are, in fact, fish. But silverfish are not able to swim; they get their name for their tapered bodies and their swim-like movements when they walk. They are attracted to moist environments, but if they’re submerged in too much water, silverfish can actually drown. Furthermore, silverfish cannot fly and have a hard time crawling on non-horizontal surfaces, like on walls. They can only really be found on mostly dry, flat surfaces.

Question: Are silverfish really silver?

Answer: Again, the name can be misleading to someone who has never seen one. Silverfish are often silver in color but can be brown as well, and when they are first hatched, they are closer to a milky white. As they grow older, their exoskeleton will begin to darken. Moreover, silverfish eggs start off as white and turn yellow over time. When examining your house to look for a potential infestation, it’s important to know that you won’t necessarily be looking for silver bugs.

Question: Will silverfish prey on the other insects in my house?

Answer: Silverfish are fairly small insects – around ¾ of an inch in length – and don’t really prey on any other bugs. In reality, they are usually preyed upon by spiders, earwigs and house centipedes. In other words, it’s not the best idea to purchase creatures to eat the silverfish that are infesting your house, unless you want to end up with another bug problem. Unfortunately, silverfish can bring other insects into your house with them, only adding to the infestation instead of preying on pests.

Question: Where do silverfish come from?

Answer: Most people only notice silverfish when they’re already inside of the house. Inside, they are usually found in basements, kitchens, bathrooms or other humid areas, but they have to come in from somewhere else. In nature, silverfish can be found just about anywhere. Often, they live under tree bark or rocks, in rotten wood or hidden in piles of leaves, especially if the leaves are wet. Some species can be found in caves or in ant or termite colonies. Silverfish can be found all over the world, although they prefer warm and humid environments and are thought to be native to Europe, northern Asia and northern Africa.

Question: Can silverfish lay eggs in my ears?

Answer: It may seem like a silly questions, but silverfish are often compared to earwigs, which are also rumored to lay eggs in humans’ ears while they are sleeping. They are then said to make their way into the victim’s brain. Fortunately, this is no more than a rumor for either insect. While it is possible for silverfish to lay eggs in human ears (but certainly not likely), they are much more apt to lay their eggs in the same cracks and crevices that they are attracted to. Even in the rare recorded cases where insects have laid eggs in sleeping victims’ ears, there has never been a case of them making their way to the brain. The only harm that you should be concerned about is the damage that silverfish can cause to your belongings.

Question: How are silverfish different from earwigs or firebrats?

Answer: Silverfish and earwigs have similarities other than not laying eggs in ears. In biological classification, both insects fall into the same class, but different orders. Silverfish have soft exoskeletons, with three soft limbs connected to their abdomens. Earwigs have hard exoskeletons with two hard forceps on their abdomens. Earwigs are able to pinch with their forceps and some have wings that give them the ability to fly; silverfish are harmless and cannot fly. They also have different food sources – earwigs tend to prefer feeding on plants, either living or decaying, while silverfish are attracted to carbohydrates, like the dry goods you have in your kitchen, and paper products.

Other than earwigs, silverfish are also compared frequently to firebrats, which are small, wingless insects that are even more similar to the silverfish than the earwig is. Firebrats feed on the same things that silverfish do and can end up destroying books, wallpaper or clothing. Both bugs usually only come out at night. However, firebrats are slightly smaller in size and have less of the tapered fish-shape that silverfish are named after. Firebrats also prefer their climates to be warmer than the temperate weather that silverfish like to live in. This means that they can often be found in boiler rooms, near warm kitchen appliances (like an oven), and around hot water pipes.

Question: How do I know if I have a silverfish infestation?

Answer: Often the easiest way to know if silverfish have invaded your house is to see them scurrying around. Keeping an eye on the rooms in your house that would be most attractive to them will help you to know if you have an infestation. Because they are nocturnal, you may only see them if you venture into your basement or kitchen at night, but you could also see them in damp areas such as the space below your sinks or in your bathroom.

If you inspect these areas and see tiny white or yellow oblong eggs, you may have found a nesting location for silverfish. The eggs will be found in the same location that the silverfish would be, but are more likely to be stored in cracks and crevices nearby, so be sure to look for any potential nests while you are inspecting. You may also be able to see silverfish feces, which is often compared to pepper because of its size and color.

In the worst case, you could see the damage that silverfish can inflict on your books, clothes or wallpaper after it’s done. If you find holes in any of these items, you could potentially have a silverfish infestation. Obviously, the damage cannot be undone, but you can protect your treasured possessions by taking preventative measures to ward silverfish off.

If you do find out that you have silverfish in your home, it’s good to know that infestations are never permanent – there is a multitude of products and solutions that you can use to get the bugs out of your house and away from your possessions. Boric acid can kill the bugs fairly quickly, but essential oils, citrus sprays and cucumbers are all said to repel silverfish in a more natural and non-toxic way. You can even make your own traps: wrapping wet newspaper in dry newspaper creates an attractive food source for silverfish, and a mason jar wrapped in masking tape with food inside will also trap the bugs without a way to climb up the slick glass interior. Although they are one of the more common household pests, you don’t have to be another victim of a silverfish infestation. Take action as soon as possible after noticing the bugs, and you can rid your house of silverfish in no time.

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