How To Get Rid Of Silverfish Bugs In Your Home

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After seeing some silver-colored bugs in your home, you may be wondering what they are and where they came from. The most likely culprit is a silverfish bug. You don’t need to worry too much, these pests are more of a nuisance than anything else. If you’re concerned about how to get rid of silverfish, you will be happy to know there are several different options. These are the things you need to know about silverfish bugs and how to remove them from your home.

What is a silverfish

Silverfish bugs are often referred to as bristletails. These bugs are silver in color and have three different “tails” that come out of their abdomen. A full-grown silverfish bug can be 12 mm in length, but most are smaller. Their life span is approximately three years.

While going through the life cycle, each silverfish bug can have up to 50 offspring, but only a few eggs are hatched at once. Their living conditions weigh heavily on how well their offspring will develop. The silverfish bugs are primarily active at night and hide during the day.

They are given their name because they appear to have a silver color coating on their back. They are more of a nuisance than anything. Silverfish aren’t really known for spreading disease, but that’s not to say that they wouldn’t scare the crap out of you if they scampered right in front of you in the basement!

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All in all if you see them, know that you’ll need to take action to get rid of them. They might eat some of your books, clothes, etc. and you simply don’t want that – even if they don’t do you personal harm.

Here are some other resources for silverfish identification:

BugGuide.net on Silverfish

American Pest’s Guide

University of Minnesota Entomology 

Where silverfish come from

You may be wondering where or how the silverfish bugs got into your home. Sometimes these pests can be brought into a home in a box or container which was stored in an infested area. If you rent a storage unit or picked up a box that was shipped from a warehouse, this may be the way silverfish bugs entered your home.

These pests can easily move from outdoors to inside your home. They are fast-moving and will scour the building in search of a good food source. Once something is found that the silverfish bugs can eat, they often stay close to it. They build nests and reproduce near their food site.

What Do Silverfish Eat

Silverfish aren’t picky eaters.

They’ll snack on sugars, proteins, and according to Waltham Services they’ll also make a meal out of wallpaper and book bindings. They also note that if needed, silverfish can survive for months without food. So trying to simply “starve them out” may not be your best option for getting rid of silverfish.

You need to be proactive.

Waltham Services also points out that silverfish will also make a feast out of your clothes because of the nourishment they can get from the materials. The key is to make sure that you store you clothes in a place where silverfish don’t hang out.

How often do people take their old or out of season clothes and put them in the damp basement for months at a time? Your basement is one of the most common places you’ll find something like a silverfish.

To avoid this, you can either store your clothes in a dry place where silverfish are less likely to be. You can also get airtight containers for your clothes if storing them in a damp, humid basement is your only option. This will keep the bugs out of your clothes, but ultimately you should be looking to get rid of silverfish from your home entirely.

Places silverfish can be found

Silverfish bugs like to infest damp areas. These places are important to them because their eggs will only hatch and thrive in a moisture-rich atmosphere. These are a few places you may have found silverfish bugs in your home, or where you should look if you suspect an infestation.

  • Bathrooms. This area is often damp and filled with moisture, especially after showers are taken. To eliminate or greatly reduce the possibility, always run the fan in your bathroom when showering. Check around your bathtub or shower for any signs of silverfish bugs.
  • Crawl spaces. Under your home is a perfect breeding ground for silverfish bugs. The damp air provides the pests with a place to lay their eggs and ample food sources are usually available.
  • Under the kitchen sink. Dishes are usually washed in the sink and sometimes there is a leaky pipe under there. Silverfish bugs love this area of the home and are often found in kitchen cabinets.
  • Laundry room. The humidity always changes in your laundry room, so this is a great place for the pests to hide. Trying running a fan in the laundry room when you are washing and drying your items.

How to get rid of silverfish naturally

If you live in a home with small children or pets, you may feel like using chemicals isn’t the best way to go. These are some things you can do to cleanse your home without having to worry about how it will affect your animals or children.

  • Sticky traps. These can be used in areas where silverfish bugs have been spotted. While this will not clear up this issue immediately, within a few days the numbers will dwindle down to nothing. Sticky traps work how they sound. It is typically a small tray with a sticky substance or glue that will grab onto anything that happens to walk across it. Who knows, you might end up catching a rogue mouse in your basement as a bonus. Click here to see a common sticky trap on Amazon. 
  • Control the moisture in the affected area. Dehumidifiers are a huge help with the infestation. If the problem is occurring in a bathroom area, using the ventilation fan can help. As long as the environment is no longer damp, the infestation population will suffer and eventually die off. The silverfish bugs need ideal conditions to breed and if you take them away, the problem will resolve itself with time. If a dehumidifier is something you don’t have laying around (they can be expensive) then you could also try a product called Damprid. Again, as the product name suggests, this is a small container with moisture absorbing “balls” that will help dry out a particular area. It gets rid of dampness – Damp-rid, get it? I’ve used it myself and it does do a nice job at a low cost.
  • Seal cracks. This is especially helpful in the bathroom and kitchen areas. If you caulk around the bathtub or around the sinks, you will reduce plays to lay eggs and feed. This also includes areas where exposed pipes enter the wall. Sealing cracks is certainly a DIY project that doesn’t require too much skill and is pretty cheap to do.
  • Use small glass jars wrapped in tape as traps. If you aren’t sure where the silverfish bugs are hiding, you can use these jars to catch them. Once they climb up the side and drop in, they will remain stuck in the jar because the glass sides won’t offer any grip for the silverfish bugs to climb out. Again, this costs very little and can be setup in a matter of minutes.

How to get rid of silverfish using chemicals

  • Insecticides. Your local hardware store is stocked with several variations. From brand names you know to off-brands that are a little cheaper, they all work to do the same things. Spray the insecticide around the areas where you have previously seen the silverfish bugs. Areas like under the sink, around your bathtub, and around window frames are all good places to start. Know that silverfish are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night, so you may not actually see them running around your basement or attic. Your best bet is to spray into as many cracks and crevices you can find where you expect they might be resting up.
  • Dust sprays. You can use this as a follow up to the insecticide. Make sure you are spraying (or dusting) just enough to coat the area. If you overuse the dust, the surface will become slick. One example of this type of “dust” is shown here on Amazon. The good news is that while this stuff is toxic for silverfish, it won’t harm humans or your pets so it is relatively safe to use around the house.
  • Call an exterminator. This can be used as a last resort. An exterminator will cover all the surfaces you will need and apply the needed treatment. It may be costly, but the infestation of silverfish bugs should be completely gone in a few days.

Maintaining a silverfish-free home

If you wondered how to get rid of silverfish and think you may have successfully done it, you need to be proactive in keeping your home that way. There are several steps you can take to make sure the silverfish bugs never return.

  • Remove the food source completely. If you have piles of old papers or stacks of book lying around, clean them up. This is a huge attraction for the silverfish bugs that once inhabited your home. Allowing the food source to be left out will only invite these pests back in your home. Remember, as long as they are well fed, the silverfish aren’t going anywhere. So it is time to declutter and put an end to snack time.
  • Resolve the moisture issue. Using a fan or dehumidifier would be a good idea in a home that once was overrun with silverfish bugs. If you make sure there is no condensation, your problem is going to stay away.
  • Fix leaking pipes. This problem isn’t always visible, but it often attracts silverfish bugs. If you have to, call out a plumber and allow him to fix any leak issues you may have. By eliminating the water source, the pests won’t want to come back.

The removal of silverfish bugs in your home may not be an easy process, but it is necessary. The damage these pests cause won’t be terribly large, but you will begin to notice your wallpaper being eaten or books being chewed. Once you learn how to get rid of silverfish bugs, keeping up with your home is crucial.

The complete disappearance of these bugs may take up to two weeks. If you are still seeing silverfish bugs in your home weeks after you initially treated it, you need to repeat the process or explore another extermination option.