What are Silverfish?

Silverfish feeding on paper

You’ve probably seen them before – tiny little silver bugs that seem to hide out in your attic or your bookcase. These small, annoying insects are called silverfish and are considered to be one of the oldest insects in the world.

What are they?

Many people think the silverfish roamed the earth at the same time as the dinosaurs, meaning that these annoying pests have survived 400 million years. They are either shiny gray or silver, and their tapered fins and the fishlike way they move helped earn them their name. These creatures typically measure between ½ an inch and an inch long, and their typical life span is eight years. They have no wings, so they cannot fly, and because of their body shape, they cannot jump. 

Silverfish Behaviors

Silverfish are typically most active at night, and they like to hide in damp, cool areas, such as bathrooms, basements, and attics. You’ve undoubtedly touched one at least once while reaching for a late-night book or heading to the bathroom to brush your teeth.

Silverfish aren’t harmful to humans, but they are very annoying. Their favorite foods include and are not limited to; glue, wallpaper paste, book bindings, linens, sheets, uncooked pasta, oats, cereal, insolation, clothing, tissue, newspaper, cardboard, carpets, dust, and hair. And the reason they are so annoying is that they get everywhere, and their droppings ruin many objects. Nothing is worse than opening a cardboard box of pictures you stored in your attic to find a colony of these little, prehistoric bugs and a bunch of ruined family photos. Silverfish can also cause allergies, as many people are allergic to the skin that they shed. Silverfish can also attract other predators, such as centipedes, spiders, and earwigs, leading to further infestations. They also, as mentioned above, destroy personal property that may be very meaningful and precious. And since they tend to multiply quickly and are hard to find, it’s best to handle them quickly. 

Do I have a silverfish infestation?

So how do you know if you have an infestation? If you see a Silverfish at all, there are likely more in your home. Other ways to identify an infestation are finding signs of damage where objects have been eaten away, or finding their droppings, which look like tiny bits of pepper. You can also sometimes find yellow stains or scales from where they shed. 

Because Silverfish can survive for weeks without food, often trying to get rid of them by starvation is impossible, not to mention the number of things they can eat and use for energy is startling. So how do you get rid of them?

Getting rid of silverfish

The first option is to get rid of them yourself. The very first step is to dehumidify your home. Silverfish only like places where it is nice and humid, so dehumidifying your home is the best start. Use a dehumidifier in your home, especially in the rooms where Silverfish have been sighted. Make sure to fix any leaky pipes in your house, and if you live in a humid state, make sure to keep your windows closed to prevent reintroducing humidity to your now-dehumidified rooms. If you have moldy or wet wood (say, under a bathroom sink), replace it. It only serves to make a home for Silverfish, who like to burrow. 

Next, try to get rid of their food sources. If you wish to keep books or old magazines or even clothing in places such are your attic or basement, place them in plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes. For that matter, do your best to go through your belongings and throw out any cardboard you may have. Place all the food you have in tight, lidded containers, or glass jars with lids that fasten securely. Be sure to do this quickly to prevent food contamination from the insects. Don’t even leave fruit out – put it in the fridge. Make sure you clean up scrapes from meals quickly after the meal ends. You don’t want to give them any extra food sources. 

Now that you’ve gotten rid of most of the food sources, here are some various remedies you can try at home. The first solution is boric acid. It is known to kill insects and bugs by starving them, and best of all, this poisonous mineral is available naturally. Sprinkle boric acid in places you know or suspect infestation has taken place. The insects will eat it, take it back to their colony, where they will then die. Be careful, however, if you have kids or pets in your house! Boric acid can be very dangerous to them. In the case of kids or pets, dilute the acid before spraying it. And be very careful, as inhaling Boric acid is bad for your lungs and can damage them badly. 

If you have kids or pets and are worried about using Boric acid, try using Diatomaceous Earth. It is non-harmful to kids OR pets, so it’s a very safe alternative to Boric acid. Diatomaceous earth is used on Silverfish by making them die of thirst and dehydration. We recommend buying Diatomaceous earth already ground into a fine powder. If not, grind it down yourself and sprinkle it as you would have the Boric acid. The sharp edges of the little individual grains of the earth are often the cause of death for Silverfish. But don’t worry! It’s perfectly safe to use, and non-harmful to anything but pests. Best of all, once you’ve killed the pests, you can simply vacuum it up! Easy clean-up. Just be sure to wear a mask to avoid inhaling the earth.

Other options you can use include cedarwood (which is very messy and difficult to keep up with), cinnamon, citrus fruits, and naphthalene balls. 

Professional silverfish control

However, while these are all viable options, it is hard to get rid of an entire infestation by yourself. We recommend calling us about a consultation to discuss the issue, as it can get out of hand very quickly. We offer ways that can be safe for families with kids or pets, and we get the job done quickly.

Why put up with insects if you don’t have to? Give Pure Pest a call!