Silverfish have been given many names, from firebrats to carpet sharks, but most people simply call them yet another household pest. What makes these wingless, carrot-shaped insects unique from other annoyances is their appetite for dried meat, flour, paper, glue, breakfast cereal, textiles, mould, and even books. They thrive in humid areas and may survive as long as 12 months without eating. Silverfish do not have an affinity for light and are found hiding in dark places. The only silver lining with these insects is that they don't reproduce as fast as other species of pests; females only lay a hundred eggs during their lifetimes.
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Things you need
- Insecticide spray
- Food-grade diatomaceous earth dust
- Breathing mask
- Glass jar
Search your house at night. Look in dark areas such as inside or beneath boxes, as well in and around bookcases. Check all closets and shake out your clothes.
Look within and under magazines or stacks of newspapers. Check the pages of old books or books that have been laying around.
Search laundry rooms, garages, basements, and around all plumbing. Look for silverfish in any other place that is cool and damp.
Check hot, damp areas for firebrat silverfish. Inspect fireplaces, furnaces, heating ducts, and insulation around hot pipes.
Finding the source of a silverfish infestation
Spray silverfish hiding and nesting places with an insecticide designed for silverfish. Alternatively, use any over-the-counter residual-based spray, such as ones that kill spiders and cockroaches. Cover all paths that you have seen silverfish travel. For killing a single silverfish, use non-residual insecticides, such as those designed for flying insects. Use bleach for killing silverfish if nothing else is available.
Place a book infested with silverfish in a microwave oven. Cook for half a minute but no longer than a minute.
Wear a breathing mask and sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth dust on areas where silverfish reside. Apply it wherever you might otherwise spray. Vacuum up the dust after several days.
Mix flour and water into a sticky paste in a glass jar. Line the outside of the jar with one or two strips of surgical tape, masking tape or duct tape. Leave the jar where silverfish have been previously seen and wait for two or three days. Discard any insects caught inside and reset the trap if necessary.
Place cereal and other foodstuffs in marked plastic storage bags or containers. Place books in cabinets that can be closed. Remove unused cardboard boxes and any damp wood or paper products.
Eliminate all piles of mulch around the house and mould infestations inside the house. Remove stacks of newspapers and unwanted magazines.
Use silicone-based caulk to seal all cracks and crevices that allow entry from the outside. Regularly vacuum any such area that cannot be sealed.
Use a dehumidifier to lower the humidity of the house and deter the return of silverfish since they only like to go to places where moisture is present. Fix all leaking pipes and clean up any standing water to further deny them access to moisture.
Detering future silverfish infestations
Tips and warnings
- Sprinkling a little boric acid or diatomaceous earth dust in a trap jar will kill silverfish and most other insects that enter to take the bait.
- Yellow stains on clothes are actually left by droppings from silverfish.
- Do not microwave fragile books or colour documents.
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