Have you ever opened the pantry to find a silver mass of scaly creatures? It is an astonishing sight. Silverfish look out of place on land, but these insects make themselves at home in dark, moist places.
As creepy as these insects look, silverfish are harmless carb addicts, gorging themselves on flour, sugar, or other carby-treats. If you’re not interested in running a full-fledged buffet of food and drink, here’s how to get rid of these hungry invaders.
These creatures look and move like small fish – smaller than miners – floating on the floor. When I stumbled upon a transition at the bakery where I used to work, that was all I could do. I bent down to look at the silver fish in fascination. They are beautiful in a disturbing way.
Watching their silver bodies pop out of dark crevices can inspire some very spooky nightmares. but do not worry. Although they are creepy, they are not dangerous to you or your pet’s health.
Silverfish are easy to recognize. They are typically less than an inch long, and their distinctive, teardrop bodies are wingless and scaly. The first time I saw a silverfish, I knew exactly what it was. But it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re doing the same thing, even if they’re very different.
There are some insects that look similar to silverfish, such as firebrats, woodlice and jumping bristletails. Jumping bristletails look most like silverfish to me, but don’t be surprised if you mistake silverfish for earwigs. This is a common mistake.
Silverfish (lepisma saccharinum) can range in size from 1/2 inch to just over 3/4 of an inch. Despite their unique way of walking, they are fast little boys. Silverfish have long antennae on their heads and three, slender short bristle-tails that protrude behind them. Like all insects, silverfish have six legs. Although unlike most of their relatives, silverfish have two compound eyes.
Unlike jumping bristletails, silverfish prefer to be indoors. They’ll happily settle in just about anywhere that’s warm and moist—like your kitchen. They also occur at night, so it’s easy to miss early signs of infection.
Finding Secret Silverfish
If you recently caught a few silverfish surprised while cleaning the basement or noticed a few darting out of sight during a late night bathroom trip, you’ve got the start of an infestation. Silverfish multiply rapidly. The female is laying two to three eggs in a row every day Once they have reached maturity.
Since silverfish reach maturity in 4 weeks and can live for 2-8 years, a lot of eggs are laid.
However, hoards can be difficult to find due to their secrecy. Silverfish are fast, and if you surprise them with the light, they will quickly return to the dark.
Look for them in bathrooms, under sinks, closed pantries, basements, basements, attics, and behind baseboards or large pieces of furniture. They can survive for more than a year without food, so don’t be surprised if they seem off nutritionally.
Silverfish also have a very broad definition of food. They Love Carbs So Much That Their Latin Name lepisma saccharinum Refers to that addiction to sugary carbs (saccharins). But while they’d rather sit there eating your flour, sugar, and grains, silverfish will just as happily eat gum, paper, blankets, and carcasses of other insects.
symptoms of infection
There are some obvious signs of infection to keep an eye on to see if you’ve actually seen your little invaders.
If your environment tends to be humid, you are at greater risk of silverfish invasion. Take a look at the edges of risky objects. Do you have little marks on the cover of your book? Holes in your magazines? These are signs that silverfish are gnawing your papers at night.
Infected material may also show yellow spots, small, black pellets (feces), or silvery scales, which are dropped when insects feed. You should discard any food showing signs of being ingested by the silverfish, and clean up books or papers as soon as possible.
Since silverfish eat glue, they can also cause your wallpaper to look bad. Look for signs of silverfish on your walls if the wallpaper develops holes or discolored patches.
Fortunately, silverfish are not directly harmful to you, your pets, or your livestock. They don’t bite, and they won’t give you disease. But their infestations can still cause stress, property damage and food loss. If you detect an infestation, it’s time to take action.
getting rid of silverfish
Getting rid of the long-lived, cryptic pests with an abundance of offspring is a challenge. But there are many ways to make your home inaccessible to them. Creating an unpleasant environment is the first step in driving out these tiny pests.
So, what makes a home repellent for silverfish?
If you can, start by getting rid of some of the moisture. Remember, silverfish cannot survive in dry environments. If your home tends to be damp, get a dehumidifier. Use a fan in your bathroom or open a window while bathing to allow all the wet air to circulate.
Check Your Landscaping – Is there an easy way for water to flow through your home, or does it collect near the foundation? Improve drainage, and your basement or crawlspace will dry out a bit.
If you see a leaky pipe or seepage water in or near your home, fix it immediately. The extra water creates an ideal environment for silverfish and other aggressive insects.
2. Seal Up Cracks
If you see a crack in the stone, brick, concrete, or even the caking around your windows – seal it up. Silverfish lay their eggs in these safe places, and you certainly don’t want to leave room for generations of young silverfish.
3. Keep food covered
If you’ve been storing flour, sugar, and other grains in those bags, it’s time to stop. Carry all your food in glass or ceramic containers that silverfish cannot chew. You can put bags of flour in the freezer or use large plastic buckets with secure lids to store bulk items.
Vegetables should also be out of reach. Store them in the refrigerator or any other cool place where the heat-loving silverfish will not venture. Keep your bread in the breadbox and your muffin in one of those adorable tins—turns out Grandma knew what she was doing with all those little containers.
4. Vacuum frequently
Take the vacuum out often. If you don’t vacuum daily, now might be a good time to start. Vacuuming removes any bits of food, dead insects, and of course, it can also remove any silverfish that may be in the area as well.
5. Dust off
In basements, attics and other areas where vacuuming is unlikely to become a daily occurrence, try dusting with powder. Diatomaceous earth and borax are safe, natural alternatives. Diatomaceous earth can bite the soft bodies of insects like silverfish, while borax makes them look like food. Insects eat it and die.
Both diatomaceous earth and borax are safe and non-toxic to humans and pets. They are also easily available at hardware stores. If you’re hoping to fight off an invasion without resorting to toxic insecticides, a few sprinkles of borax and diatomaceous earth can help.
6. Cedar and Lavender
While it is unlikely that they will clear up a complete infestation this way, a combination of cedarwood and lavender essential oils can help create an undisturbed environment for silverfish. Just as cedar and lavender can ward off moths from your wool and silk fabrics, they can also drive away silverfish.
Place diffusers in areas where silverfish are congregating and hang dried lavender in your pantry. Tansy, peppermint and wormwood are also great ‘straying herbs’ to ward off insects from your pantry. My personal favorite is a wormwood called ‘Sweet Annie’ (artemisia annuum)
What about pesticides?
I avoid using conventional insecticides because of the damage they cause to the environment. Conventional insecticides eradicate all beneficial insects and arachnids in a home, as well as the offending species. They are also dangerous to pets, houseplants and people.
But sometimes the invaders just aren’t leaving. If you must switch to conventional insecticides, do so with caution. Be sure to keep your pets, plants, and especially your children away from these poisons.
Some compound insecticide sprays such as propoxur, chlorpyrifos and bendiocarb can protect your home for more than a month after application. Apply the spray to the most infested areas, let them work, and then follow up with an irritant spray. Pyrethrins are irritating sprays that will drive affected insects back to areas where long-lasting insecticides are working.
Remember though, that these sprays aren’t just going to work on your silverfish. Use them safely. Follow all directions on the packaging and do not leave children or pets unsupervised in the sprayed house.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish
They usually live in basements and bathrooms, but over time they’ll spread to other parts of the house. Silverfish like dark places with high humidity levels, such as walls or ceilings near leaking water pipes. This is why it’s important to fix any leaks right away if you see signs of a silverfish infestation.
Silverfish can be really difficult to get rid of. They are tough and can survive for several weeks without food or water! Silverfish also have an extremely high rate of reproduction, so it’s important to stop as many silverfish as you can before they start breeding.
If we want to kill silverfish in our homes, we must prioritize the control of humidity levels. How do you know if you have high humidity levels? It’s important to make sure that your indoor air is not too damp. If the relative humidity of the air inside your home is more than 60%, silverfish can be a problem.
To get rid of silverfish, it helps to understand how they think and what kind of homes they prefer. How can you prevent silverfish infestation?
Good question! The most effective way to get rid of these creepy beings is with silica gel or boric acid powder. You should also try using a dehumidifier in the areas where they like to live and clean up any spilled food, especially sugary foods such as seeds, baked goods or cereal.