Silverfish are pretty harmless, but they are ugly to look at and they are definitely unwelcome guests in your home.
These crawling creatures with tons of antennae sticking out of their carrot-shaped bodies prefer to stay in cold, dark and damp places like the basement or under the bathroom sink. They love to come out from these hiding places at night and nibble on starchy stuff like paper, glue, dry goods and cereal boxes.
A silverfish infestation is common in kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, attics and basements.
As these pests are secretive, the severity of an infestation may go unnoticed for a long time. However, their destructive feeding habits can ruin your important papers, clothing and even wallpaper.
If you have silverfish bugs taking up residence in your home, do not panic. You can hire an expert to deal with the infestation or try some natural methods to get rid of them. While addressing a silverfish infestation, take care of both adult silverfish and their hiding places where they may have laid eggs.
Here are top 10 ways to deal with a silverfish infestation.
1. Reduce the Humidity
Since silverfish love damp and humid places, the first step you need to take is reduce the humidity in your home. This is a sure way to keep them out.
- Use a dehumidifier in damp areas like the basement.
- Ventilate the attic and basement using fans.
- Install a quality bathroom fan to reduce the moisture in the room.
- Replace or fix leaky pipes and faucets.
- Put silica gel in corners, holes, cracks and in the cupboard under the sink.
- Always make sure water drains away from your home.
- Use plastic sheeting on the ground in dirt crawl spaces.
- Use ridge vents on the roof to allow humid air to escape.
2. Reduce the Food Sources and Clutter
By reducing their food sources, you can control as well as prevent future silverfish infestations.
- Reduce food sources by keeping cereals, flour, meat, pastas and pet foods in airtight containers. If the insects do not have easy access to food, they will start looking for a new address.
- Never leave piles of newspaper or mail around, especially in a storeroom that is dark and humid.
- Avoid storing old cardboard boxes in the basement.
- Store your unused or out-of-season clothes in sealed bins and somewhere dry.
- Vacuum carpets, flooring and upholstered furniture regularly.
- Keep exterior areas caulked and properly painted.
- Keep the gutters and downspouts free of debris.
- Reduce clutter to eliminate their hiding places.
3. Boric Acid
Boric acid is a natural substance that can help kill silverfish and destroy their eggs.
This crystalline powder works as a desiccant that helps destroy their exoskeletons, eventually causing dehydration and death.
However, this remedy is not for households who have pets.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of boric acid powder, 1 cup of oatmeal flour, ½ teaspoon of white sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Sprinkle the mixture in areas where you see silverfish in the evening.
- The next morning, clean the area thoroughly.
- Repeat daily for at least 1 week to completely eradicate the silverfish infestation.
Caution: Wear a mask to avoid inhaling boric acid, as it’s toxic to the lungs.
4. Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a class of algae that can help get rid of silverfish.
The microscopic silica shards in DE can damage the pests’ exoskeletons, which ultimately cause dehydration and death.
- Sprinkle DE around the baseboards and other humid places in your home where silverfish can hide.
- Do this in the evening, since silverfish come out of their hiding places at night.
- The next morning, vacuum up the powder along with the dead silverfish.
- Repeat daily for 1 week to make sure you’ve controlled the infestation successfully.
Caution: Always wear a mask when handling DE, since it can irritate your lungs.
5. Homemade Newspaper Trap
You can use old newspapers to make quick, inexpensive traps to catch the silverfish roaming around your home.
Newspaper works as a great food source for these tiny creatures, which makes it perfect bait.
- Roll up a newspaper and seal the ends with rubber bands.
- Spray water on the rolled newspaper to moisten it.
- Before you go to bed, put the moistened newspaper where you often see silverfish roaming around.
- The next morning, the silverfish will have eaten their way into the newspaper and all you need to do is to throw the newspapers away or burn them.
- Repeat every night until the infestation is under control.
6. Homemade Glass Trap
To get a hold of the crawling creatures, you can also set out homemade glass traps. These traps are easy to make and are very effective.
- Find a quart-sized mason jar or another glass container.
- Wrap the outside of the container with masking tape.
- Put a piece of bread or some oatmeal powder in the jar.
- Put the trap in an area where you suspect silverfish are hiding at night.
- The next morning, you will find silverfish inside the container, as they are unable to climb up the smooth inner surface of the glass jar. Throw away all the trapped creatures.
- Refill the jar and reset as required.
Borax is also very effective at eliminating silverfish. It dehydrates their exoskeletons and damages their digestive systems, which ultimately leads to their death.
To increase the effectiveness of borax, it should be used along with sugar so that the silverfish can easily be drawn into your trap.
- Mix equal parts of borax and powdered sugar.
- Sprinkle the mixture near infested areas in the evening or at night.
- The next morning, you will see many dead silverfish, which you need to discard.
- Do this for at least 1 week or until you are satisfied with your efforts to control the infestation.
Caution: Do not use borax if you have kids or pets at home.
8. Lavender Essential Oil
Silverfish hate the smell of lavender, hence you can use the essential oil to get rid of the ugly creatures.
- Fill a 1–gallon spray bottle with distilled water.
- Add 10 drops each of lavender essential oil and tea tree essential oil in it.
- Spray it on the baseboards, the area beneath the bathroom and kitchen sinks, and anywhere else where you have seensilverfish.
- Do this daily at night for 1 week.
To keep silverfish away from your clothes, put sachets of dried lavender inyour dresser drawers or closet to help deter them.
Another safe way to deter silverfish is cinnamon. Its strong aroma helps repel them. This method is especially safe if you have pets or infants in your home.
One drawback of using cinnamon is that it cannot kill these insects or destroy their eggs.
- Place cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon in your cabinet drawers, kitchen, bathroom and study room.
- You can also add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon essential oil to 1 cup of water. Soak a few cotton balls in it and place them in areas where silverfish tend to hide. Repeat once daily for about 1 week.
Cloves also work as a highly effective natural insecticide to control a silverfish infestation. The strong smell of whole cloves is an effective deterrent.
- Place a bowl of whole cloves in the infested areas like the basement, storeroom or any other damp and dark areas.
- You can also place small muslin pouches containing cloves in your wardrobe to keep your clothes safe.
- You can also put drops of clove essential oil over cracks and crevices in your walls or foundation to keep silverfish away.
- You can buy a chemical spray containing liquid pyrethrin and spray it along baseboards and into cracks, as well as other places where silverfish can hide.
- As silverfish do not like heat or light, try to heat the infested room to above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or cool it to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also use light to force them into areas where they are easier to control.
- Cedarwood chips or shavings can be used to repel silverfish.
- Put camphor or mothballs in your cabinet, wardrobe or storage boxes.
- Keep spice sachets in your kitchen cabinets, as silverfish don’t like the smell of spices.
- To detect and monitor an infestation, use cockroach sticky traps.