How to Get Rid of Silverfish Insects

Written by kaitlin meilert
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How to Get Rid of Silverfish Insects
Silverfish love a good stack of newspapers or magazines, so discard them rather than piling them up. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Silverfish are shiny, silver or grey, 1/2-inch-long wingless insects that live in cool, damp places within basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Silverfish hide during the day but come out at night for water and food, which includes paper, glue and wallpaper paste, book bindings, starch in clothing, some fabrics, household dust and debris, other dead insects and cereal, flour and other dry foods. While the extent of silverfish damage is holes in paper and fabrics, the last thing you want are these creepy critters crawling around your home and even into your food

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Cockroach sticky traps
  • Small glass containers
  • Masking tape
  • Dehumidifier and/or fan
  • Vacuum
  • Duster
  • Household liquid or aerosol insecticide spray

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Detect a silverfish infestation and how small or large it is by placing cockroach sticky traps in corners and along edges in your home where silverfish nighttime foraging is likely. You can also make your own silverfish traps by wrapping only the outside of small glass containers with masking tape. Silverfish will climb up the tape, fall into the containers and become trapped inside because they cannot climb smooth, slick surfaces.

  2. 2

    Repair plumbing leaks and drips, remove moisture and dry any moist surfaces, especially in your basement, laundry room, bathroom and kitchen, as it is impossible to prevent or get rid of silverfish if your home has damp conditions. Reduce humidity and moisture in your home with dehumidifiers and/or fans, especially in closed spaces.

  3. 3

    Vacuum and dust your home to remove food sources such as food particles, household dust and debris, dead insects and insect eggs. Remove stacks of newspapers, magazines, papers and books, which are common hiding places for silverfish. Routine cleaning, vacuuming and dusting will prevent more silverfish from coming into your home.

  4. 4

    Trap and kill silverfish with the taped-glass method if you suspect only a light infestation. Simply set the traps out each night and drown the trapped silverfish in soapy water the next day.

  5. 5

    Resort to insecticides only for large infestations. Even so, you must remove moisture, food and hiding places and continue with your routine cleaning, as using insecticides alone is not effective for getting rid of silverfish.

  6. 6

    Spray insecticide into cracks and crevices in doors and window casings; into any other cracks, crevices or wall voids in your home; along edges and in corners of walls and baseboards; behind and under furniture; in closets and bookcases; around and into openings where pipes go through walls; and in any other possible hiding places. Use a household liquid or aerosol insecticide spray containing synergized pyrethrin and pyrethroids to kill silverfish both immediately on contact and later when silverfish pick up the insecticide.

  7. 7

    Continue to keep your home clean, dry and clutter-free to prevent reinfestation after you have eliminated a silverfish infestation. In addition to routine cleaning, vacuuming and dusting, regularly clean out closets, cabinets and storage containers; move around any magazines, papers and books in bookcases; and avoid making stacks of newspapers, magazines, papers and books.

Tips and warnings

  • Insecticides used for large infestations should show results in a few weeks. If an infestation does not improve in three weeks, look for an area you may have left untreated or a plumbing leak that you may have missed. If you are unable to find the source of infestation, you may need a professional pest control service.
  • Do not spray insecticides onto or anywhere near sinks, drains, water and food as well as electric motors, gas pilot flames or any other places where they can start a fire.

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