Silverfish are insects that aren’t harmful to humans but they like destroying clothes and paper. They are often found in dark and moist places. If left untreated, silverfish will reproduce and you will end up with a serious infestation. How do you get rid of silverfish?
Silverfish love dark and moist areas, so you can get rid of them by dehumidifying your home and keeping the lights on. You can also get rid of them with sticky traps, or some homemade traps.
Silverfish can be a blessing in disguise because they could reveal a much bigger problem, like rotting wood or leaky plumbing. Keep reading to find out what attracts silverfish and how you can get rid of them.
Why do I have a silverfish?
Silverfish are slithery, slimy critters that you can sometimes find in your kitchen, bathroom, or basement. They are pretty small, around ½” long, and they have antennae that are the same length as their bodies and three “tails”. Silverfish are also known as fishmoth, urban silverfish, or carpet sharks. They are light and blue, but they are shimmery so they appear silver.
Since they are so small and quick, they can slither through very small cracks, gaps, or other openings in a building. They can crawl through small door cracks. They can also get into your house with the firewood or some other materials that you carry in. Silverfish are also able to climb inside the building.
They prefer to be in dark, moist places like basements, attics, kitchens, and bathrooms, and they especially like places with paper and damp clothes, like the ones you’d have if you stored them in your garage.
You might not notice them right away, but you can find traces of them because they like ruining papers, clothing, and wallpaper. They love feeding on carbohydrates, particularly sugars and starches. Some other food sources could be cellulose, shampoos, glue in books, linen, silk, and dead insects. You can even find them in unopened food packages.
Contrary to the popular belief, silverfish can’t bite people because they have a very weak jaw, which can’t penetrate human skin. It is also believed that they don’t carry any pathogens that cause disease. However, they can trigger allergies in some people. Silverfish shed their skins throughout adulthood and leave behind scales. Some people have allergies caused by the dust created by the dropped scales.
Silverfish also aren’t poisonous if ingested. However, pet owners are still advised not to let their pets eat silverfish.
There are many reasons why you have silverfish. One of them is that you have leaf piles that are moist. If you leave those leaf piles for long enough, silverfish will find its way to it. If the pile happens to be close to your house, they can even find their way into your house.
Silverfish could also be attracted to heavily weeded areas that contain moisture. These thick weeds create shade, which doesn’t allow the sun to get in and dry out soil after it rains.
If you leave wood lying around, you will attract silverfish. Firewood, construction materials, or other wooden objects that are directly on the ground are great places for silverfish and other pests to live in.
In case you have big rocks, tarps, or toys which prevent the ground from drying, you will attract silverfish.
Some other things that could be attracting silverfish to your home are leaky spigots or clogged or broken gutters. If the water is running down the outside of your home or collecting in the soil, this will create conditions that are great for silverfish. It will also cause the wood on your home to soften, which will make it easier for pests to chew their way in.
However, finding silverfish isn’t necessarily something bad. Because they like hiding in moist places, they can alert you to a water issue in your house, such as a leaky pipe, or water coming from outside of your home. It is also possible that you find damp or rotting wood in areas where you find silverfish.
Even if you spot only one silverfish, there could still be a lot of them. The process that turns silverfish from egg to adult usually takes about four months, and they develop through three stages which are egg, nymph, and adult. One inseminated female can produce between 1,500 and 3,500 offspring in her lifetime. They are able to lay two or three groups of eggs every single day. Depending on their species, each one of these groups contains one to 20 eggs. Each one of these eggs is about 1mm long and is more elliptical than circular. When they are first laid, the eggs are white and soft, but after a few hours of exposure to oxygen, the eggs toughen up and turn yellow.
These eggs won’t sit out in the open, they will be tucked away in all the little cracks and crevices in your home. Female silverfish always hide their eggs to protect them from damage, which will also protect them from your vacuum, broom, and pest control sprays as well.
Females can also burry eggs in the dust, food, or cloth, which means that you could find yourself one day opening your kitchen or dresser drawers and seeing tiny silverfish scurrying from your family’s clothes or food, running for cover. Once silverfish find a breeding area they like, they emit aggregation pheromones, which signals for all the other silverfish in your home to come and lay eggs. This is done because crowded gathering helps regulate the humidity and temperature in the area and thus making the eggs hatch faster, healthier, and more effectively. Silverfish eggs are able to hatch in about 19 to 32 days, depending on the conditions.
Once the nymph emerges from the egg they are miniature versions of the adults. During their development, they go through a number of molts and continue to molt throughout their lives. Some species molt even more than 50 times in their lifetime. They usually become adults in about three or four months, the only exception is in cool climates, where it may take up to two years to develop into a mature adult.
How do I get rid of silverfish?
Most pet problems can be solved with better sanitation and a lack of clutter. Try to remove as much clutter as you can because silverfish love eating paper and clothes. Try to eliminate as many hiding spaces in your home as possible. You should sweep regularly, mop and vacuum, to eliminate food crumbs and other things they may eat.
Another thing you can do is transfer dry foods from cardboard boxes to canisters and get rid of loose paper bags and empty boxes.
You can also try sprinkling diatomaceous earth, which is a white crumbly powder consisting of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a class of algae. Once silverfish come into contact with diatomaceous earth, it destroyers their outer waxy coating, which causes them to lose moisture and die. You should sprinkle it around the baseboards in your home, and other places you’ve seen silverfish. Since silverfish are nocturnal, it would be best if you applied it in the evening. You should apply it for several nights in a row.
If you have pets, it’s not advisable that you use some toxic pest repellants, like boric acid. Instead, you can use cedar oils, because silverfish hate the scent of cedarwood. Another natural way to get rid of silverfish is to DIY mothballs out of lavender and cinnamon.
It is very important that you dehumidify your home. Silverfish love humid areas, and if your home is not humid, they will go away. You can get a dehumidifier, or you can buy cheap moisture absorbers, which are more of a short-term fix. Some other ways you can reduce the amount of moisture in your home are by drying your clothing outdoors, setting the heating to a constant temperature of 26 degrees, keeping your windows open, ensuring that your bathroom fan is switched on for longer periods during and after showers, and mopping up any standing water from the floor.
Paper, which is high in starch, is a perfect environment for silverfish. Make sure you keep your books, newspapers, and important documents safe. Once you eliminate their food source, silverfish will look for a new home.
When you encounter a silverfish, the cheapest way to get rid of it is with a wet newspaper. Just take an old newspaper and roll it up lengthways. Make sure you secure it with elastic bands. Leave a few of these traps around your home in places where you have seen silverfish. The silverfish will be attracted to the soaked paper, and you can throw away the paper with silverfish in the morning.
If you need a slightly more potent way to get rid of silverfish, try out some commercial products. You can choose from a large number of sprays and bait traps. However, these sprays tend to be toxic so be careful when you use them in homes with children and pets.
You can do your own trap by taking an old, clean jar and wrapping the outside with tape from top to bottom. The best tape for this is masking tape, but you can use any tape you have. The ridges of the tape will allow the insects to climb their way inside of the jar, but they won’t have a way to climb back out. Put some torn up pieces of bread in the bottom of the jar to lure them in.
If you don’t want to buy sticky traps, you can make your own. Using duct tape is a great solution that will help you catch dozens of silverfish. Put it so that the sticky side is up around the perimeter of the room that you want to treat. Throw away and replace any tape that has insects stuck to it each morning.
You can also put a bowl filled with some spice that has a strong smell or around the edge of the room. Don’t put spices directly on any surface as a lot of them will stain.
Silverfish hate lavender and lemon essential oils. You can dilute a few drops of the essential oil into a spray bottle of water and spray liberally around your home. If you don’t have any essential oils, you can peel the skin off of a lemon or any citrus fruit to achieve the same results.
If you’ve tried everything and nothing worked, or if your silverfish infestation is really big, you should call the experts. A professional pest exterminator will know the nature of silverfish, how they breed, their diet, life cycle. He will also use effective methods to get rid of them. A professional pest exterminator also has the right tools and solutions. The price of hiring a professional pest exterminator is between $100 and $700, with the average price being around $400. It may seem like a lot of money but it is worth it. You will probably spend much more on different pest sprays and traps while trying to get rid of silverfish on your own.
How do I prevent silverfish from coming back?
Once you’ve gotten rid of them, you should make sure they don’t come back.
Silverfish love damp, dark, and moist areas such as under sinks, basements, bathrooms, attics, and closets. They also love eating wet wood and paper so you can also find them around cereal boxes, magazines, books, behind wallpaper, and rotting window sills. That is why you should keep your house extremely clean if you want to keep them from coming back.
You should declutter any piles of paper because silverfish love eating old books, papers, and magazines. Important papers should always be kept in airtight bins.
Try vacuuming your place at least once a week, because vacuums help to remove food sources that may attract silverfish.
Since silverfish are nocturnal creatures they tend to squeeze into dark and small spaces and gaps in your home, and they hate light. To keep them away, leave the lights on during the night, and let a lot of light in during the day. If you’re not using some rooms, try to install some night lights that will turn on automatically once it’s dark.
A constantly humid environment is perfect for silverfish. Keeping your home dry is one of the most important ways to prevent silverfish from coming back. This can be somewhat hard, especially for those living in areas with the winter season. You can get some dehumidifiers to help you prevent your home from being humid.
To prevent silverfish from entering your home, you will have to seal all entry points such as cracks and holes in your house specifically in your attic, basement, or any other dark, tight, and cold areas. You can do this with a simple sealant or waterproof caulking. You should also make sure that there is no pipework or plumbing that is leaking.
If you leave out food that silverfish are attracted to, like sugary foods, flour, oats, cereal, carbohydrates, they will come back. Get some sturdy, air-tight containers for storing your food.
SIlverfish love eating wallpaper, it provides them with a mix of papery and adhesive goodness. Make sure you occasionally check your wallpaper to see if there are any holes in it. To prevent silverfish from coming back, it is best that you completely remove the wallpaper and paint your wall instead.