Where Are All Those Silverfish Hiding in Your Home?

by Rowan Guthrie
Insect feeding on paper - silverfish. Pest books and newspapers.

Even the cleanest homes can house unwelcome guests — creepy crawlies that have chosen to share the living space with you and yours without asking. There’s nothing worse than the scurrying of silverfish across your bathroom floor. It can also signal a potential infestation in your home.

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That's why learning how to get rid of silverfish ASAP is always a good idea.

What Are Silverfish, and What Do They Look Like?

Silverfish are small, wingless insects that get their name from their silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like movements. These pests are typically less than an inch long and have a carrot-shaped body with three long appendages at the rear. They might look relatively harmless, but silverfish can cause significant damage to household items by feeding on starches and proteins found in common objects, such as books, clothing and wallpaper.

One of their most distinctive features is the ability to wiggle and thrash when disturbed, making them difficult to catch or eliminate. They're also known for being able to survive in harsh conditions, with some species capable of living for up to a year without food.

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Where Are They Hiding in My Home?

Silverfish thrive in humid environments, so they’re often found in bathrooms, basements, attics and crawl spaces. They prefer hiding in dark, moist areas, such as behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices and under sinks or appliances. If you notice small, yellow stains or scales on surfaces, you might have a silverfish infestation.

They can also be drawn to food sources, such as crumbs or spilled pet food. If you suspect a silverfish infestation, you need to identify and address potential sources of moisture or food that may attract them. Even the smallest food source can be a problem, so don't leave anything to chance.

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How Do You Get Rid of Them?

Eliminating silverfish from your home requires a multipronged approach because, as already mentioned, these little creatures are surprisingly elusive. However, they’re not indestructible, so let’s look at some effective strategies for getting rid of them.

Reduce Humidity Levels

As you now know, silverfish prefer damp environments. Therefore, using a dehumidifier and ensuring proper ventilation can help make your home less hospitable for them. You’ll also need to fix leaks or moisture issues in high-risk areas, such as basements, bathrooms and crawl spaces.

Eliminate Food Sources

Vacuum and clean regularly to remove crumbs, pet food and other potential food sources for silverfish. Store food in airtight containers and clean up spills promptly, as this will discourage these pests from settling in your home if there’s nothing to eat.

Use Boric Acid

This natural compound is an effective silverfish repellent and killer. Sprinkle it in areas where you've seen silverfish activity or along potential entry points. However, exercise caution when using boric acid around children and pets. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Try Cedar Products

The natural oils in Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) can repel silverfish. Consider using cedar products, such as cedar shavings or essential oils, in infested areas or as a preventive measure.

Set Traps

Sticky traps or traps with bait can help capture silverfish and monitor their activity levels. These devices can be especially useful in identifying hotspots and tracking the effectiveness of your control measures.

Seek Professional Help

If you have a large or persistent infestation, consider hiring a professional pest control company to eliminate the pests. Professional exterminators apply specialized treatments and use the proper equipment to target silverfish and prevent future infestations. This is the nuclear option, but it’s also the most effective.

Remember, preventing silverfish infestations is easier than getting rid of them once they've established themselves. You can keep these unwanted guests at bay and maintain a silverfish-free home by addressing humidity issues, eliminating food sources and using appropriate repellents or traps. Regular monitoring and prompt action at the first signs of an infestation can also help prevent a small problem from becoming a major headache.

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