Although they don’t often cause much damage, silverfish eat paper and paper products. In large numbers, silverfish can eat through wallpaper, books, boxes, some fabrics, cereals, fur and other starchy products.
Even when this is not the case, most homeowners simply wish to rid their property of silverfish because they present a nuisance.
Silverfish are approximately ¼ to ½ long, fully grown. They have rounded heads, and at the rear their bodies come to a point. They have no wings. You’ll know silverfish by their two antennae and three tail-like protrusions at the rear end of their bodies. They are most active at night. They do not bite humans nor do they pose a direct threat to people or animals.
Find Out Where They Live
If you’ve noticed that your home has a silverfish population, your first course of action should be to find out where they’re living. Sticky traps are available for sale at most home improvement stores and big box retail stores. These standard pest-removal tools are used for bugs and mice.
Place sticky traps around your home, under beds, behind doors, between pieces of furniture and under sinks. Focus on damp, dark areas like basements, attics and rooms with poor ventilation.
Keep the traps near walls, because you’ll find most pests creeping near the outside edges of rooms. Once the traps have been out for a week or two, check each one to see which traps have caught the most silverfish.
This will tell you where the silverfish population is most concentrated, and can point to specific problems you may be having in your home that are contributing to their continued presence.
Manage Environmental Conditions
Silverfish like damp conditions and will often be found in basements and moist areas. Leaking pipes, unventilated rooms and basements with moisture problems can make your home the perfect nesting place for silverfish.
Silverfish will not breed in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s an option, reduce the temperature of a room or rooms where silverfish are present.
This method can be used to reduce populations and get big problems under control. Silverfish thrive in warm moist conditions, such as in an un-air conditioned home in a humid region during the spring and summer. Fix broken air conditioning systems and keep air moving throughout the home. Use fans to dry out wet bathrooms and basements.
Silverfish like crevices and cracks where they can hide—and if those crevices and cracks are between stacks of paper or other food sources, all the better.
If you’ve discovered that you have a silverfish problem, one of the best ways to get a handle on the situation is to remove stacks of paper, clean up piles of clothes or books laying on your floors and fix old or cracking wallpaper. To drive away silverfish, remove the food sources, or keep the food sources in sealed plastic containers.
Some chemical solutions are available on the market and for sale in home improvement stores and big box retailers. Boric acid is a commonly used dust that can be scattered throughout the home, in cracks and crevices where silverfish are known to live or hide.
Keep all pest-control chemicals away from children and pets, and follow all manufacturer’s instructions exactly as they are written on the label. Many chemicals used to remove insects are poisonous to people and animals.
Keep your home properly ventilated, well maintained and clean. Fix any leaking pipes as soon as they are identified, and use ventilation systems in bathrooms to keep the rooms dry. Block off any entry into your home around pipes that enter through the walls. Check the moisture levels in your attic and basement regularly.
Vacuum cracks and crevices of your home regularly, and dust regularly in and around books and papers that you keep lying around in your home.