How to Get Rid of Silverfish in Your House

Last updated: 12/06/2021
Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Silverfish are a common pest that many homeowners will encounter. They get their name from their silvery appearance and the undulating motion they use to get around. These little critters can quickly become a nuisance in the home, so here are some tips to help you keep your home silverfish-free and get rid of any already in the house.

What are Silverfish?

Silverfish, also known as bristletail or paper fish, are essentially small, nocturnal, silvery bugs. When fully grown, these insects are between 0.5-1 inch in length and have small appendages at the tail end of the insect, living as long as 8 years.

Silverfish vs. Firebrats

The firebrat is a similar bug often confused with the silverfish, but knowing which pest you are dealing with is important for proper pest removal. Some of the key differences include:

  • Size: Firebrats are usually smaller, maxing out at 0.5 inches.
  • Color: Where silverfish have the distinctive silver gleam, firebrats are more of a matte grey-brown.
  • Movement: Firebrats do not share their cousins’ movement style, scurrying along in a much more familiar, insect-like motion.

Common Questions about Silverfish

Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding the behavior of silverfish:

What do Silverfish Eat?

Silverfish have a varied diet of many things you have in your home. They love to gorge on fibers, sugars, fabrics, and grains. While this may be a preference, they can live off any food source, even houseplants. Further, silverfish are incredibly hardy creatures and, if necessary, can even survive for months without eating.

What attracts Silverfish?

Silverfish are on the lookout for all of the things that most household pests are: shelter, food, water, and breeding grounds. Silverfish like to reside in quiet, dark, moist areas.

Where do Silverfish like to Hide?

Silverfish like to hide anywhere it is dark and moist, which can include areas behind furniture, in basements or garages, in books, or under sinks. Unlike other pests, like cockroaches, silverfish are timid creatures—they will keep out of the way at all times, especially when there is any light around. Their fondness for dust as a potential food source means that they can be found in attics.

Do Silverfish Bite?

Silverfish cannot bite people, as your skin is far too strong for their tiny teeth to penetrate.

Are Silverfish Harmful?

Silverfish are not known carriers of any diseases or parasites that can transfer to humans or your pets, so any accidental consumption should be of no concern.

The only slight issue you may encounter is an allergic reaction to silverfish byproducts. Silverfish eggs, excrement, and molts can mix with your home’s natural dust and exacerbate any allergies that you or your pets may have. The solution to this is the same as your ordinary allergy medication.

Signs of a Silverfish Infestation

Given the fact that silverfish are shy pests, it’s important to be on the lookout for common indicators of an infestation. Some of these include:

  • Yellow stains on clothes, paper, or wallpaper.
  • Small black droppings around old papers or wallpapers.
  • Burrowing in book spines or a weakening in the paper glue in your books.
  • Metallic-looking scales that look opaque and are shed around the house.
  • Feeding marks, whether as holes, notches along an edge, or surface etchings.
  • And, of course, finding silverfish in your home.

If you start noticing these signs, then it may be time to call in pest control professionals to inspect your home and develop a treatment plan.

How to Prevent Silverfish

As with many pests, prevention should be preferred to eradication, and it begins with

  • Restricting Access to Foods: Keep your starchy foods and powders sealed away, preferably in airtight containers, and sweep your home regularly to limit dust that can be eaten.
  • Control Moisture: A dehumidifier in the home can go a long way to limiting the amount of moisture that can accumulate which will help to prevent the growth of a large silverfish infestation.
  • Keeping on Top of Home Maintenance: Repair any leaky pipes and make sure any damaged or moldy wood is removed from the home promptly.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

If you have found yourself in a situation where you are dealing with a silverfish infestation, then it is time to discuss removal.  Here are a few methods you can try:

  • DIY Traps: Set up traps around your home using cereal or pet food inside a glass container, with the outside wrapped in tape or paper. The bugs can climb up the tape and into the container but will slip on the glass when trying to climb out. All you have to do then is dispose of the bugs.
  • Store-Bought Sticky Traps: Useful for many pests, not just silverfish, these traps can be placed around the home, especially in locations you may have seen silverfish or found droppings. Periodically check for their effectiveness.
  • Cedar Oil: A more-natural option is to use cedar oil, which is an effective method for multiple pests. Either dropping oil around the home, using a water-oil solution in a spray bottle or using an oil diffuser, will allow you to coat the house in this pesticide oil.
  • Poison: As with all pests, chemical poisons are available as a more extreme option. We would advise against its use in all but the most extreme situations, as the toxic substances will likely pose a threat to you, your family, pets, and pests. If you need to use this extreme solution, you should definitely contact pest control professionals.
  • Professional Pest Control: We would always recommend for your ease that you engage in professional pest control, like with our team at BOG pest, as they will be able to take care of the situation quickly and efficiently using only the best products.

Hopefully, this will help you keep your home silverfish-free. For more help with silverfish removal or any other pest control concerns, give our team of local professionals a call today!

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