How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Being plagued by silverfish, or even just seeing the odd one, does not mean that your home is dirty – in fact, they just like that it is warm, humid, there are no predators and that there is a food source available.

It can be startling to catch a silverfish in the home, however, and you may be wondering how to get rid of them, especially if they have become a common occurrence.

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Fortunately for you, we have put together a simple guide to help you eliminate the pests for good. Using natural methods, it is much safer for the whole family, especially if you have children or pets.

Saying that, sometimes a problem may need to be solved by using something stronger, so do be open to trying as many ways to get rid of them as you can. Now, let us get to it!

What Even Are Silverfish?

Silverfish get their name because they are silver in color, and that is how you can tell if the bug crawling across your carpet is a silverfish or not. They are nocturnal creatures, meaning they like to do a lot of their activity at night.

They also move in a fish-like way, making it look as if they are swimming across the fibers. This is due to their tapered tails, as well as the little antennas. 

They can be difficult to catch due to being able to move really quickly, which again, makes it look like they are swimming like a fish. 

The troublesome thing about silverfish is the fact that they like to burrow into deep, dark spaces. This can mean that they are difficult to remove, however it can be done. 

Can Silverfish Destroy the Home?

Silverfish are far less obnoxious than mice infestations or fleas in your carpet, however, they can wreak havoc when it comes to some of your personal items.

Their droppings can ruin clothes, books, wallpaper, carpets and paper. Also, they love to eat these items, and will munch their way through boxes and your favorite books.

If you are struggling with silverfish, always check bags of oats, pasta and cereal as they like to make themselves a home in those items. 

What About Allergens and Silverfish?

Whilst people may not be allergic to the silverfish themselves, their molted skin does have a protein called tropomyosin in it. Some people may find that they are allergic to it, especially if you already have an issue with dust mites. 

If both the exoskeletons of silverfish and dust mites are combined, this could cause a process called recombinant which would create a strong allergic reaction. 

Does Having Silverfish Mean Your Home is Dirty?

Even though you might think that finding bugs in your home is a sign of living in a dirty house, it is actually not the case. It could be a sign that the house is damp, however, but again this does not mean the house is dirty.

They thrive in damp and warm environments, so it could be worth checking how your house is doing in this particular area. They may have come in through an area where water damage may have happened, so look carefully and sort out the issue. 

Signs of a Silverfish Invasion

If you have not seen the silverfish directly, then there are other clues that may show them sharing a home with you. One of these is noticing tiny droppings on bits of old paper and wallpaper – they can climb easily.

If you have clothes made of synthetic fabrics, there could be yellow stains (which are not sweat marks), as well as tiny holes. 

Another factor is finding them burrowed away in open food packets such as cereals and pasta. That is never a nice surprise!

You may also see their outer skin which they have shed and left. They do this a lot throughout their lives – and by the way, they can live for up to 8 years!

Where Will You Find Silverfish in the Home?

Silverfish can be quite difficult to spot, but if you do suspect that they have invaded your space, then here are a few areas to take a look at:

  • Hiding places – they love a dark corner of the house, so you might even find them under the couch, for example. One of the reasons they like a dark and damp area is because they will leave their eggs there. To spot them, they look like little white and yellow bulbs.
  • Eating spots – they love to eat, and feed off polysaccharides, the sugary substance that is found within common household objects. This could be carpet fibers, different fabrics, the glue in a book, paper, etc. 
  • Moist environments – if you have a particularly damp room, then this is where they might be hiding. Keep on top of this by opening the window. 

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Now that you know what silverfish are and that your house is clean, we can get onto finding out ways to evict them from the home. 

Newspaper

If you have a small number of silverfish and you know where they are, then the newspaper trick could work a treat. Whilst it may be a slow process, you will need to make sure the children or the pets do not move it.

Using an old newspaper, wet it and roll it up. Silverfish will be attracted to the paper, the darkness and the moist environment and set up a home.

When a few days have passed, put the newspaper into a sealed container and throw it away. You can also burn the paper if you want to get rid of them completely. 

Building a Trap

Because silverfish need a food source and love a starchy substance, then building a trap is a great idea to capture them. 

In a glass container, pour some dried cereal or flour into it. Tape the outside of it so the silverfish can use this as help to get up into the container. The silverfish will bask in the glory of finding food, but will not be able to leave because they cannot climb back up the inner glass.

The only downside is that you will need to pick out the silverfish over time which might be disgusting!

Cedar Oil

Cedar oil is a common essential oil used to kill a number of pests such as silverfish, carpet beetles and moths. It is also safe to have in the home.

It can be used in a number of ways such as placed in an oil diffuser. For the best effect, place it where the silverfish activity is.

Another way to use this oil is by mixing a few drops with warm water and putting it into a spray bottle. You can then spray it onto areas that are being attacked and used by the silverfish. 

It will need to be reapplied however, as the scent will wear off after a while. 

Dried Bay Leaves

Silverfish do not like the smell of bay leaves, so this is a pretty simple method to move the silverfish along. Place a few leaves where there is known silverfish activity, just remember to remove them after so long.

You will need to keep reapplying them, so just like with the cedar oil, it is quite high maintenance. 

How to Prevent Silverfish From Coming Back

Once you have sorted the problem of removing silverfish, you will want to know how to stop them from returning. Firstly, you will need to make sure that the house is not damp, so sorting out this issue can be a big help.

You can do this by investing in dehumidifiers, as well as opening windows to allow air into the house. Also, seal any leaky pipes and check the exterior of the home.

You will also need to make sure the home is kept clean. Whilst silverfish is not a sign of a dirty home, they do feed off bits of debris and dust, so removing the food source is a good way to stop them from returning.

Vacuum the carpets and clear away any magazines and paper on a regular basis. Also, make sure dried food is stored away in airtight containers or fastened with clips. 

Final Words

Finding out that you have an infestation of silverfish can be disheartening, but it could mean that you have a damp home. To get rid of them, you will need to seek out what the problem might be as a whole, as well as attempt to find them and get rid of the bugs.

If you want to do it yourself, then there are ways to naturally remove them without harming your family or pets. From building traps to working directly, there are numerous ways to try.

If you do find that you cannot get rid of them, then you may need to call in a professional. However, hopefully some of these tricks will do the job!

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