If you’ve ever turned a light on in the basement and noticed some tiny, silver insects scampering along your walls, you’ve seen a silverfish. Also known as fishmoths, silverfish love to snack on any type of paste, cereal and other carbohydrates. Keep them out of your house with these prevention tips.
Identify silverfish. These pest are very small – usually ½ inch to 1 inch in length – and very fast. Their bodies taper from head to back, have small scales and are generally silver, but can also be brownish in color. When they move, they sit very low to the ground and appear to be gliding or swimming, hence their name.
Reduce moisture and humidity. Silverfish love humidity and moisture, which is why they tend to hang out in basements, attics, pantries and bathrooms. To avoid attracting them, reduce humidity in your basement and attic by using a dehumidifier regularly. Reduce moisture in your bathroom by always closing your shower curtains, running your bath fan after you shower (or cracking a window) and repairing any water leaks or damaged caulk. For more moisture removal strategies around the house, read: Check For Mold.
Guard your carbohydrates. Silverfish love their Cap’n Crunch, so keep your cereal, grains, flour and other carbohydrates well sealed. If you make a mess while you’re making breakfast, sweep or vacuum immediately so you don’t leave a silverfish snack lying around.
Maintain your wallpaper. Silverfish also love eating paste and glue, which means they will chew on your wallpaper! Check the corners of your wallpaper for peeling or cracks, and repair if necessary so the silverfish don’t have an easy way behind your walls. For more wallpaper tips, read: 7 Steps to Perfect Wallpaper & Modern Paper Options.
Heat or cool infested areas. Silverfish prefer a moderate temperature of 70-80 degrees. If possible, try either heating or cooling problematic rooms outside of this range for a few days, which will drive the silverfish away. Once you’ve done this, make sure you remove as much moisture and potential food from the room as you can so they don’t return.
Spread cloves or cucumber peels. These are two popular, all-natural silverfish repellants. Spread cloves or cucumber peels in areas where silverfish are a problem. You can also add these to your bookshelf to keep them away from the paste in the binding of your books. To start growing your own silverfish repellant, read: Summer Garden Series: Cucumbers.
Use baits, traps and sprays. If you’ve taken the above measures and still have a silverfish problem, consider using baits, traps or sprays, which you can find at your local hardware store. Or, you can easily make your own silverfish trap by wrapping the outside of a glass jar with masking tape and placing a carbohydrate such as cereal or flour inside. The tape will allow the silverfish to crawl inside, but they won’t be able to escape the smooth inner walls of the jar! Note: If you do purchase a store-bought silverfish poison, be aware that some of these products contain ingredients like boric acid, which can be toxic if ingested by children or pets, so use them with caution.
Contact a professional. If you wind up with a major fleet of silverfish in your home and these solutions aren’t effective, it’s best to contact a pest control professional to help you deal with the situation. Depending on the number of bathrooms you have, this will cost anywhere from $200-300 for a one time service.