How to Get Rid of Silverfish Infestation

how to get rid of 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.

Pest library explore silverfish


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 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.

Check also:

12 Most Interesting Questions About Pests

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.

  • Decrease the humidity. 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 food properly. 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.
  • Remove other food sources. Clear away any clutter, such as old newspapers and magazines. Silverfish like to play hide and seek and will eat up your papery clutter.
  • Take care of your walls. 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.
  • Keep your home warm. 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.

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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.

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Image source: Pajjai Sapwattanapaisarn/ shutterstock.com

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10 Responses

  1. Joselyn says:

    Those buggers seriously creep me out! Once I was sleeping and something crawling on my arm woke me up – and guess what it was silverfish. But apart from giving me creeps nothing serious happened as those animals don’t bite.

  2. Glasmilbexr says:

    I usually find silverfish in my bathroom – in the bottom corner there’s a small hole between the tiles and they go out from there. I sealed it and I didn’t find yet any new ones.

  3. Silverfish eater says:

    When I catch some, I have Silverfish for dinner. Great source of protein. I’ve eaten at least 1000 and then I poop them out.

  4. Jason mckenna says:

    Mine are black and silver under belly, they are all in my bed room, got rid of my carpet and bed and got wooden floors, new curtains and painted walls.

  5. StephenW says:

    If you have no empty jars, a coffee mug with a square of loo paper stuck on with a tiny bit of masking tape will do. Let the loo paper hang down, and they will climb up and into the mug to get to the bread.

  6. Lida Schedler says:

    I live in FL and had a bunch of books in the garage in boxes. You guessed it, silverfish and probably some waterbugs also. When I open the books they are “gritty” with a few end nibbles. However, the books are valuable (for content) and I want to keep them. Any suggestions the best way to clean them? Should I mist them with lavender or something like that and close them up in a plastic box and dump the boxes? The books are really grungy so I do need to clean them somehow, and I am sure someone is going to jump out at me while I do it! But they would cost me hundreds to replace, at least. Any suggestions?

    • Fantastic Team says:

      Hello, Lida

      We would suggest that you take all the boxes with the books outside of your house and clean them one by one with a soft brush, between the pages included. The reason to do it outside is to make sure no silverfish hides in the room. Use rubber gloves so you don’t have to touch them directly. Once all books are thoroughly cleaned, put them away in an airtight plastic box no new silverfish can enter.

      Regards,
      Fantastic Pest Control Team

  7. sheila goldmacher says:

    bamboo trees outside my apartment drop leaves daily. do silverfish breed in them and then come inside to my unit?

    • Fantastic Team says:

      Hello Sheila.

      Yes, it is possible, but we can’t know this for sure unless we check.

      Regards,
      The Fantastic Pest Control Team

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