One of the most common insect pests worldwide is Silverfish. The scientific name for silverfish is Lepisma saccharinum. However, many people refer to them as paper fish or bristletails.
These pests are insatiable in what they eat. Mostly they survive by consuming meals consisting of high amounts of starch. In particular, silverfish prefer to eat household items such as paper, books, and boxes.
The upcoming article will offer you tips about silverfish control and what you can do to avoid attracting silverfish and other household pests. In addition to preventative measures and pest control tips to stop silverfish.
What do Silverfish look like?
Silverfish are insects with bodies covered in tiny scales similar to a fish and are gray or silver in color. The head is the broadest section of their body, gradually tapering to the bottom end. It is here that you’ll notice three appendages that are long and bristle-covered.
One shoots directly out of the body’s posterior side, and the remaining two poke out at ninety-degree angles on the torso’s right and left sides.
At only around 0.5” to one inch long, Silverfish can live eight remarkable years! Rarely seen during daylight hours due to the fact that they are nocturnal.
Should I be worried if I see one Silverfish?
Chances are if there is one, there are literally hundreds of them taking up residence within the walls. During a single female silverfish's lifetime, she can lay as many as 100 eggs. The time it takes an egg to mature to adulthood is a mere 90 days!
Think about it, a single male and female silverfish can quickly multiply, filling up that damp basement with their offspring in weeks!
So you can understand now how easy it is for a Silverfish population to quickly get out of control!
What causes a Silverfish infestation in your house?
You have just seen a silverfish inside your home; you are likely pondering where in the world it came from. Here is a list of some of the things silverfish love and find attractive about your home:
- Your house and yard provide them with an ideal habitat. Silverfish subsist in environments that are moist and well-guarded. Wherever there is excessive moisture, leaf litter, rocks, and logs, you will likely find silverfish. Inside the house, they prefer places that are dark and isolated, such as damp basements, bathroom sinks, behind furniture, cardboard boxes, and even in books. Any area with moisture is a likely place they will go.
- You have all the right food sources. Silverfish are like any other creepy crawlies. They need food for survival. Their preference is food sources containing starches. For example, fabrics, sugars, grains, fibers, and dried food sources like pet foods and cereals. One of the reasons they can be hard to get rid of is that they are nocturnal. They consume anything, from protein to carbohydrates, starches, and even items that are decomposing. When they come indoors, they will eat anything they find. Pet food tidbits, scraps of leftover food, cereal, flour, sugar, and dried goods.
- You provide them with a place to lay their eggs. If your home is moist, with lots of dark, out-of-the-way places, it is a haven for egg-laying. Silverfish eggs are bulb-shaped and white or yellow in color.
- Lots of places to hide. Silverfish live in areas that are protected and excellent hiding places for laying eggs. This could be in damp places, behind furniture, and even inside a bookshelf. The first step to getting rid of them is to make your home as inhospitable to them as you can.
Does a dirty house attract silverfish?
Contradictory to what many believe, a dirty home is not a common attractant. What is a natural attractant is moisture--wherever there is plenty of moisture, you will find these insects. Silverfish will consume common household and construction items, which is why even a clean house will keep them satisfied.
In addition, silverfish will find a smorgasbord inside areas of your home that are dustiest. This is due to the organic residue contained within dust particles, such as dander and human skin. A silverfish is able to completely sustain on a diet that is solely dust. They find protein to balance their diet by eating the dead carcasses of other silverfish.
Are silverfish dangerous to people?
Although a silverfish might appear threatening, they are not harmful to humans. Silverfish do not spread disease as some other bugs do, nor do they don’t sting or bite.
However, even though they aren’t dangerous to our health, you don’t want to live where silverfish live.
The mere presence of these creepy crawlers or other pests inside your home can become rather unpleasant. Silverfish will cause great damage to any building and household items in a short amount of time.
In addition, people who are prone to allergies might display signs of allergic reactions to their skin molts or feces.
What are the signs of a silverfish infestation?
If you think your home is being infested, look for these five clues:
- The first most obvious sign is actually witnessing live ones inside your home. These insects are tiny, bluish-silver to brownish-grey in color. They are slippery and flexible in the form of a teardrop. Silverfish tend to move in the same manner as a swimming fish does, in motions of back-and-forth wiggles. Since they are nocturnal insects, it may be hard to spot one at first. However, seeing just one indicates somewhere nearby is an infestation.
- Noticing their droppings. Silverfish have droppings that are quite unique--little peppercorns that are black in color. You will often notice these dropping in places they hang out, such as behind furniture and underneath cupboards. Often, people confuse these insect droppings for household debris and even dust. A good indication of an infestation is having to sweep often, and it keeps reappearing.
- Seeing their skin molts. Throughout the lifetime of a silverfish, they will molt and shed their skin often. Their skin molts are transparent, delicate, and tiny outside shells, another good indication of an infestation.
- Seeing yellow stains on your stuff. Even if you don’t actually see their skin molts, you might notice yellow dust. This yellow dust is what they leave behind on the places where they molt. You might recognize these yellow stains on clothing, boxes, papers, and even books.
- Property and other belongings show signs of damage. Noticing the damage created by these insects is the easiest way to spot an infestation. Seeing such things as holes gnawed through cardboard, clothes, wallpaper, and linens are way of confirming an infestation of silverfish.
What are the favorite hiding places of silverfish?
Common places that appear attractive to silverfish are areas that are damp and humid. Using a dehumidifier will aid in making your home appear not so welcoming. Having your home and basement dehumidified might seem expensive, yet it will be money well spent.
Another favorite place silverfish like to hide is in your basement. A basement is usually dark and prone to collecting moisture and water. They also have lots of excellent places for tiny insects like silverfish to hide.
How to tell if you have a severe silverfish infestation
Recognizing the damage silverfish cause is the easiest way to identify an infestation of silverfish. They eat their way through food that is starchy, such as linens, cardboard, wallpaper, and clothing.
You can also confirm an infestation when you see the holes in these items they have chewed their way through.
Some items of concern for silverfish infestations include food residue or stains on certain clothing. Also, paper products, rugs, carpets, and a variety of other fabrics are attractive food sources for silverfish.
A silverfish can be sustained by the most rudimentary of carbohydrates. Silverfish eat pet food, and other organic residues, like skin and dust, keeps a silverfish sustained for a long time.
Does boric acid kill silverfish?
One method of pest control for killing silverfish is to trap and poison them with a few small packets of boric acid. Place in areas these insects have been noticed.
Such as drawers to desks and dressers, bookshelves, beneath the sink, and in the attic and basement. Boric acid is toxic if consumed. Therefore, don’t use boric acid traps near areas where pets or kids play frequently.
Do you know what silverfish are attracted to?
Areas that provide silverfish with good hiding spots are damp, dark, and moist. These places could be right in your home, so the first thing to do is check out your house.
- Silverfish love moisture. Look around your home and yard for signs of excess moisture. Are there any pipes that are leaking or areas that allow water to form puddles? Make sure all the gutters are operating as they should be and replace any leaky pipes.
- Debris within your yard. Another favorite of silverfish is the great outdoors. In particular, dead plants and leaf piles, clippings from the lawn, rock and wood piles. Any of these things will provide a silverfish with the shelter and moisture they crave.
- Fabric and books: Silverfish are the original “bookworms”! They love anything made of paper or fabric. If you have a lot of old books, make sure to store them in plastic to protect them from a silverfish attack.
- Food items: Silverfish love grains, starchy food, anything that has sugar in it. Therefore, ensure to store food, particularly dry food items, in airtight containers. Also, make sure you are sweeping up any food crumbs routinely.
- Garden mulch: If you are a gardener, keep in mind that mulch retains moisture and is an attractant to silverfish. Keep your mulch stored in containers that are sealed tightly to avoid them from sneaking inside and making it home!
Is it a Firebrat or Silverfish?
People often mistake a silverfish for what are really firebrats. These pests have characteristics that are alike in certain ways. However, they are distinctly different. Both have a similar body shape and appear to have three members with tails.
Yet, that’s where the likeness ends. Silverfish do like warm temperatures. They won’t be discovered near hot water pipes, furnaces, and fireplaces like firebrats will be.
This is due to firebrats enjoying hot environments, and silverfish prefer cool, moist areas. This is why you will find silverfish hiding in cupboards, basements, laundry rooms, bookshelves, and in bathrooms.
Next time you see one of these slimy pests, take a closer look at the coloring. It might actually be a firebrat issue you are having and not a silverfish.
Firebrats' coloring is gray or a mottled brown, while silverfish are a complete gray or silver tone.
How to determine the extent of a silverfish infestation problem
If you believe you have a silverfish problem, you can use glue or sticky traps to evaluate the extent of the issue. Another method is by taking a glass or mason jar and wrapping the outside of it with some scotch tape.
Then, put a slice of bread at the bottom of the glass jar. The silverfish will climb up the taped exterior. However, the inside will be too slippery to allow them to escape.
How to get rid of silverfish without poisons
When you discover you have a problem with silverfish or Lepisma Saccharina, pest control can appear difficult. Because they are nocturnal, you won’t see them crawling around unless you turn on the lights.
Even then they are quickly scurrying to get out of sight in the tiniest crevices and cracks. Although they are not harmful to us, they do wreak havoc on our belongings.
If you have pets or children, here are some tips to help get rid of silverfish in more natural ways.
- Using items from your pantry to get rid of silverfish
Silverfish dislike the scent of cloves. Just having this spice out in the open air will repel silverfish away. Another home remedy that gets rid of silverfish bugs is plain table salt.
Silverfish find table salt irresistible. When they consume it, they become severely dehydrated to the point of dying. They also hate the scent of citrus fruits. They are repelled by lemon and orange smells. Place the peels of these citrus fruits in various locations in your home.
How to get rid of silverfish naturally
When you want to get rid of silverfish, there are several options to try. However, to get the best outcome, you need the perfect blend of extermination and prevention methods. This section will show you the best combination of chemicals as well as how to get rid of silverfish naturally.
Dispersing cedar shavings
To get rid of silverfish and keep them away, disperse cedar shavings in all the places you have seen them. Silverfish dislike the scent of cedar. Therefore, spraying cedar oil will also create a natural aversion for them.
The bad thing about using cedar shavings is it is a bit messy; therefore, it is advisable to put them in areas of low visibility. You can also use cedar oil spritzed in areas of your home.
Ensure to sweep or vacuum the dead insects and cedar shavings weekly. Also, disperse with fresh cedar shavings. Continue doing this until you no longer see any silverfish.
Setting out jar traps
You are going to need the following list of supplies to do this step:
- Masking tape
- Several jars
- Slices of bread torn into small pieces
Using masking tape, you need to tape the jars from the bottom to the top. Place the pieces of bread into the jar. Prior to retiring to bed, put the jars in all the places you have noticed silverfish crawling around. The masking tape will enable the pests to climb up and into the jar. However, once inside, they will not be able to climb out due to the smooth glass surface inside.
Using essential oils
Similar to other insect pests, the silverfish have a strong distaste for lavender and lemon scents. To get rid of silverfish naturally, use a spray bottle filled with citrus or lavender oil. You can also use cinnamon sticks and bay leaves as natural remedies to get rid of these pests. It has been reported that dried bay leaves work as an excellent repellent of insects.
Agitate the solution well and pour it into a spray bottle. Now spritz the essential oils/water solution in the areas of attraction to silverfish. For example, room edges, cupboards, and beneath sinks.
Using diatomaceous earth is a powerful weapon
When attempting to get rid of the creepy crawlers around your home and yard, this is one powerful tool. Diatomaceous earth is actually capable of piercing the exoskeletons of those tiny pests.
Besides that, the insect will consume the diatomaceous earth powder, which causes an eventual shutting down of everything internally and externally. Just sprinkle diatomaceous earth powder wherever you have seen silverfish, and 24 hours later, vacuum up the dead bugs.
This is one of the easiest homemade remedies you can use to get rid of silverfish. You will need to gather some old newspapers, now roll them up, and secure their shape with a rubber band. Now turn on the tap water and fill a bucket with water. Submerge each rolled newspaper in the water until moist. (However, don’t let the newspaper get so wet it becomes grey mush).
Now, before retiring for the evening, place these moist newspaper rolls throughout the home in places you have seen silverfish. Next morning gather all the newspaper traps--do not open them, lest you allow those tiny pests to escape! Dispose of the newspaper traps in one of two ways--in a trash can with a sealed lid or by burning them.
Purchase some commercial gel traps
You will find several types of commercial pest traps on the market. There are those with pesticides and some that are natural. When going this route to get rid of silverfish, you need to put the traps in the same areas you have noticed them. (Be sure to focus on areas that are damp and dark). Follow the instructions on the package when ready to dispose of the used traps.
Utilizing spice packets
Silverfish find spices with strong scents repelling. They dislike the odor of cinnamon, cloves, or anything else that might be overpowering. By simply storing these spices inside the cupboards will deter silverfish as well as keep them smelling nice.
There is yet another powerful superweapon for the eradication of insects. That powder is called boric acid and it works great at killing silverfish as well as their eggs. Disperse the boric acid in all the areas you have seen the silverfish, and in the morning, vacuum it away along with the deceased pests.
This step might need to be done a couple of times to ensure you have eradicated them all. As a word of caution: Always wear face protection when using boric acid! Boric acid is extremely toxic to animals, children, and adults, requiring immediate medical attention should it be inhaled.
As a final resort, there are pesticides
Don’t forget you always have one available option for getting rid of a silverfish infestation, and that is pesticides. When you choose this method, seek one with liquid pyrethrin contained in it. This is an extremely efficient method used to kill silverfish.
It comes in a spray and is useful in all areas of a home, barring the pantry and kitchen. As a reminder, avoid using pesticides in areas that pets and small children can access because of how extremely toxic it is.
When it is time to call a pest control specialist
When you discover a silverfish infestation you need an integrated pest management system that will attract silverfish and then kill them. The professionals at A.N.T. Pest control New Lenox know what attracts silverfish as well as how to prevent silverfish.
If you have severe infestations, A.N.T. Pest Control offers a fantastic pest control service to exterminate silverfish. Give us a call today. We will stop the silverfish infestation and other insects from interrupting your peaceful life.
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