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How to Get Rid of Silverfish

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Home > Blog >  How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Dealing with pests can be challenging for any homeowner, but with the correct information, it doesn't have to be daunting. At Natran Green Pest Control, we provide comprehensive guidance on identifying, preventing, and eliminating common household pests, including the tricky silverfish.

Introduction to Silverfish

Often found lurking in the damp, hidden corners of homes, silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) are small, wingless insects that have inhabited the earth for over 400 million years. Their name derives from their silvery-blue color and the fish-like way they move.

Silverfish are nocturnal pests, meaning they are most active at night, and they are known to have a lifespan of two to eight years, which is quite long for an insect. Silverfish have a teardrop-shaped body that measures between half an inch to an inch in length, and they are covered in tiny scales that give them a silvery appearance.

While these insects aren't harmful to humans because they don't transmit diseases or bite, they can cause damage to your household items. They feed on carbohydrates, particularly sugars, and starches, and their diet includes everything from books, wallpapers, and clothing to pantry items like flour and rolled oats.

Getting rid of silverfish can be tricky because of their nocturnal nature and their preference for the hidden, damp areas of your home. This guide will provide an in-depth look at understanding these pests, identifying their presence, preventing their infestation, and various methods to remove them from your home. Whether you choose natural or chemical processes or seek professional help, this guide will help you. Let's dive in and start by understanding what silverfish are and why they can be problematic.

What are Silverfish?

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) are small, wingless, silver or gray insects with a fish-like appearance. Their bodies are long, slender, and covered with shiny scales. They are named for their distinctive teardrop shape, similar to a fish, and the fish-like way they move.

These pests are typically between half an inch to one inch in length. Their three long bristle-like appendages on the rear end and two long antennae on the front give them a unique appearance.

Why are Silverfish a Problem?

While silverfish are not harmful to humans, they can cause significant damage to your property. Silverfish are known for their destructive feeding habits. If you're an avid reader or keep important documents at home, you must be extra cautious, as these insects have an appetite for the glue that binds books and papers.

Moreover, they feed on cotton, linen, silk, and even synthetic fibers. They can ruin your clothing, upholstery, and wallpapers. While they don't carry diseases, a silverfish infestation is not something you should overlook.

Identifying a Silverfish Infestation

The first step towards controlling a silverfish infestation is knowing what signs to look for.

Common Signs of Silverfish

Silverfish are nocturnal and elusive creatures. They prefer dark, damp areas and might not be immediately apparent during the day. However, they leave behind tell-tale signs of their presence.

You may notice yellowish stains, tiny holes, or black pepper-like droppings on your clothing, wallpaper, cereal boxes, or books. You may also find their shed scales, which look like small, shiny silver fragments. Finding any of these signs around your home can indicate a silverfish infestation.

Where to Find Silverfish in Your Home?

Silverfish are attracted to areas with high humidity. Therefore, they are commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, attics, and basements. They can hide behind wallpaper and wall voids in bookcases and storage boxes.

They are also drawn to food sources and can often be found near sources of carbohydrates, including flour, dried meat, rolled oats, and glue.

That wraps up our introduction to silverfish and identifying an infestation. Stay tuned to discover what attracts silverfish to your home, how to prevent them from settling in, and effective natural and chemical methods for eliminating them.

Understanding What Attracts Silverfish

Silverfish Diet

Understanding what attracts these pests to your home is essential in preventing their infestation. Silverfish are carbohydrate lovers. They are drawn to sugar, starch, and cellulose, which explains their penchant for paper products and book glue. They also feed on mold and fungi, dried meat, rolled oats, and even textiles.

Living Conditions that Favor Silverfish

As for their preferred environment, silverfish love damp, dark, and warm spaces. Potential silverfish hotspots can be areas in your home with high humidity levels, like your kitchen, bathroom, basement, or attic. They also survive in unregulated conditions such as damp clothing piles or unattended storage boxes.

Prevention of Silverfish Infestations

Preventing an infestation is always easier than trying to get rid of one. Here are some effective preventive measures to keep silverfish at bay:

Regular Cleaning Practices

Regular cleaning can prevent the build-up of food sources that attract silverfish. Vacuum and clean your floors and carpets to remove food particles. Remember hidden areas like under furniture, cracks, and crevices. Regularly dust your books and keep your storage areas clean and tidy.

Controlling Humidity in Your Home

Since silverfish thrive in humid conditions, managing the humidity level in your home is crucial. Use a dehumidifier in damp areas of your home, like the basement, attic, bathroom, or kitchen. Ventilating these areas regularly can also help maintain a dry environment that silverfish find unsuitable.

Proper Food Storage

Store food items, especially those rich in carbohydrates, in airtight containers. This not only prevents silverfish from accessing these food sources but also prevents the attraction of other pests.

Natural Methods to Eliminate Silverfish

If you already have a silverfish infestation, you can turn to some natural methods to help eliminate them:

Using Spices and Herbs

Strong smells repel silverfish. You can use herbs and spices such as bay leaves, cloves, or cinnamon sticks in areas where you suspect silverfish activity. These can act as a deterrent and prevent silverfish from making your home their habitat.

DIY Silverfish Traps

A simple trap can be made by wrapping the outside of a glass jar with masking tape and placing a piece of bread at the bottom as bait. The silverfish can climb up the tape, but once inside, it cannot escape the slippery interior of the jar.

Essential Oils for Silverfish Control

Essential oils, especially citrus ones like lavender and lemongrass, are known to repel silverfish. Mix a few drops of essential oil with water and spray it in silverfish-prone areas to keep these pests away.

Chemical Methods to Get Rid of Silverfish

While natural methods are safe and effective, sometimes a severe infestation requires more robust measures. Chemical processes can offer a fast and powerful solution.


There are numerous commercial insecticides available that are effective against silverfish. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and use these products safely and responsibly. Be sure to target areas where you have noticed silverfish activity or their tell-tale signs.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is a common household insecticide that is very effective against silverfish. It's a white powder that can be sprinkled in areas where silverfish have been observed. When the silverfish come into contact with the boric acid, it dehydrates their bodies, leading to their death.

Diatomaceous Earth

This natural white powder works similarly to boric acid. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can puncture the exoskeleton of silverfish, causing them to dehydrate and die. Be sure to use food-grade DE, sprinkle it in areas where silverfish are prevalent, and keep the areas dry.

Calling Professionals for Silverfish Control

If the silverfish infestation is severe or home remedies and insecticides do not seem to work, it's time to call the professionals.

When to Call Pest Control?

If you've tried several methods and the silverfish population in your home isn't decreasing, or if the damage caused by silverfish is significant, consider hiring a professional pest control service. They have the knowledge and tools to deal with the problem effectively.

What to Expect from Professional Silverfish Treatment?

Professional pest control services will begin with thoroughly inspecting your home to determine the extent of the infestation. They'll then devise a custom treatment plan that may involve multiple treatments to ensure all silverfish and their eggs are eradicated. Post-treatment, they may provide advice and measures to prevent future infestations.

Maintaining a Silverfish-Free Home

Once your home is free of silverfish, you'd want to keep it that way. Here are some tips for maintaining a silverfish-free home:

Regular Inspections

Regularly inspect your home for signs of silverfish. Early detection can help nip a potential infestation in the bud.

Keeping Your Home Dry

Managing humidity and avoiding damp conditions in your home can deter silverfish from making a comeback.

Prevention is the Key

Continue to practice good housekeeping, proper food storage, and regular cleaning to prevent providing an attractive environment for silverfish.


Dealing with silverfish in your home can be daunting, but remember that it's entirely manageable. Silverfish are a nuisance, and their presence can be unsettling, but they are not directly harmful to humans. However, they pose a risk to your belongings, as they can damage paper goods, textiles, and other materials in your home.

Understanding what attracts these pests can help you make your home less inviting to them. Regular cleaning, controlling humidity, and proper food storage are crucial in preventing an infestation. Natural remedies like herbs, DIY traps, and essential oils can help you manage a minor problem, while more severe infestations may require professional pest control services.

Each method is flawed, and it's essential to remain vigilant and consistent in your efforts. Regular inspections and good housekeeping habits can go a long way toward preventing a re-infestation. Remember that prevention is always more accessible and cost-effective than treating an existing problem.

However, if your infestation is stubborn or eliminating these pests seems overwhelming, feel free to ask for professional help. At Natran Green Pest Control, we specialize in environmentally-friendly pest control solutions and are committed to helping you maintain a safe, pest-free home.

Rest assured that there is a solution to your silverfish problem. Whether you tackle it yourself or hire professionals, you have the tools and knowledge to reclaim your home. Stay patient and persistent, and you'll be able to live silverfish-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes silverfish in your house?

Silverfish are attracted to warm, moist spaces like basements and crawl spaces. They can enter homes through foundation cracks, torn screens, or door gaps. Leaving dirty dishes in the open or failing to store food properly can also lure silverfish indoors.

What kills silverfish fast?

Boric acid is a natural substance that effectively kills silverfish and their eggs. You can spread it around the areas where you notice silverfish activity before bed and vacuum it up in the morning. This process may need to be repeated until all silverfish are eliminated.

Should I be worried if I see silverfish?

Silverfish are mostly harmless and do not carry any diseases relevant to people. However, they can cause damage to your home as they feed on starchy items, such as old book bindings, paper products, and other moldy items.

What kills silverfish naturally?

Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that can effectively kill silverfish. It works by puncturing the insect's exoskeleton, causing it to dehydrate and die. Spread this powder in areas where you notice silverfish activity.

Can professional pest control services eliminate silverfish?

Professional pest control services can eliminate silverfish from your home. Their expertise, experience, and equipment enable them to address the issue thoroughly, although it may require multiple treatments to ensure all the silverfish and their eggs are eradicated.

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