How to kill silverfish insects

Updated November 21, 2016

Silverfish are bugs found in many households. They eat cereal, flour, fabrics, and even the paste in bookbindings and wallpaper glue. The silverfish is a wingless bug, covered with scales. The adults can grow to a length of about 3/4 inches and are pearly grey in colour. Silverfish do not like the light, so they can be found in dark pantries and closets, especially if the house is kept very cool. They prefer damp, cool places, and will congregate in the basements of homes that are not kept cool with air conditioning.

Discard all food products infested with silverfish. Take the trash outside. Remove any other food from the food area, even canned foods.

Spray the silverfish insecticide in the pantry and anywhere else you see silverfish. The insecticide's label must state that it controls silverfish. Insecticides created for flying insects will not kill or control all silverfish—only those it comes into direct contact with, according to the Wisconsin County Extension Office.

Spray around baseboards, windows, doors and, if the home has exposed pipes (under sinks, in with the hot water heater, near the air conditioning condenser), spray the floor, walls and pipes in those areas, too. If the pipes are in cabinets, remove all the items from the cabinets. Discard anything infested with silverfish. Spray inside the cabinets.


You may need to re-treat if you notice that the infestation is not under control by the end of the third week. According to the Wisconsin County Extension Office, many sprays do not take effect immediately, and it can take up to three weeks for the residue to kill the silverfish.


If the silverfish are in furniture, carpets, wall coverings or drapes, test the insecticide on an inconspicuous spot before treating, to ensure that it does not discolour or otherwise damage the fabrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Insecticide for silverfish
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About the Author

Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.