Pest Control for Silverfish: How To Get Rid of Silverfish Infestation (Treatment)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | March 28, 2024

Man with a flashlight wonders about pest control for silverfish bug, including how to get rid of silverfish (killer), what naturally kills silverfish, and the treatment for silverfish infestation.

You might be considering pest control for silverfish after realizing these critters have infiltrated your home.

Lurking around in the warm and wet corners of your house, munching at whatever comes their way, you have to be very careful when dealing with these insects, either by DIY methods or better yet, calling in a professional pest exterminator.

Fortunately, this guide outlines pest control for silverfish options that you can use to learn how to get rid of silverfish infestations and different treatment options that help exterminate them.

How To Get Rid of Silverfish/How To Kill Silverfish: DIY Pest Control for Silverfish

Pest control for silverfish is the only way that you can regain normalcy in your home. You will be certain that all your items will be safe from their massive appetites.

Graphics with text and images of the things that is effective in silverfish control by DIY.

Are you wondering how to get rid of them? You will be excited to learn that there are quite a number of DIY options, especially when dealing with minor infestations.

Using Silverfish Traps

If you are certain that what you are dealing with is nothing but a minor attack, then you can deal with it on your own using the bait-and-trap method. DIY pest control for silverfish has never been cheaper or more convenient with the jar and sticky traps.

With the jar method, all you need is a glass jar, at least 3 inches deep, covered all around the outside with tape. Fill it up with flour, grains, or yummy treats; the silverfish will get in gripping on the tape but fail to get out because of the slippery inside.

Alternatively, you can also go for sticky traps, where you mix water and flour to form a paste on a cardboard and let the stickiness catch some silverfish for you.

Using Newspapers

Another affordable DIY pest control is the use of newspapers, knowing how much the silverfish love eating and hiding inside. Just roll up a couple of them, make them wet, and leave them out to attract the insects.

They will soon make their homes inside, and when ready, you can pick up the papers and dispose of them with the silverfish inside.

Pest Control for Silverfish: Using Borax and Diatomaceous Earth

These two are some of the most effective homemade solutions to your pest problems. They work on how to get rid of roaches, bedbugs, and, of course, the silverfish.

Just leave the powders out in places where you will likely spot them, and they will do the rest, diatomaceous earth is preferable because of how sharp the powder is and how it shuts their bodies from inside when they eat it.2

Using Essential Oils

Just like any other insect, the silverfish is no different when it comes to the smell of essential oils.9 They loathe any strong scent and would rather leave your house than stand it.

There are so many options to go for, from lavender and citrus to eucalyptus, and the best part is that your house will smell great, and there will be no danger to you or your family.

Using Spice Packets

Still on how much pests hate strong scents, why don’t you try sprinkling spices on your cupboards?

Unbearable smells of clove, bay leaves, cinnamon, black pepper, and other common kitchen spices will perfectly repel silverfish from your home.

Using Chemical Gel Traps

Apart from making your sticky traps, you can also opt to buy commercial traps they are cheap and will still get the job done, just place them in the most likely places where the silverfish will likely show up and let the trap handle the rest.

Using Pesticides

If all the above methods fail, then your last resort may be to use insecticides. This is the least preferred method because homeowners avoid the use of toxic chemicals that endanger them and their loved ones.

So you will have to be extra careful when using this; avoid applying chemicals in your kitchen and make sure that it is nowhere near kids and pets.

Common Silverfish

(Lepisma saccharinum)

Photo of silverfish in an oval frame on green background.
  • Description: ½ an inch long, wingless, shiny, silver-colored, with long, slim bodies that taper towards the end tips
  • Natural Habitats: found in the Americas, Africa, Australia, parts of Asia and the Pacific, in moist, humid areas
  • Locations: humid places around the home, in the bathrooms, kitchens, basement, attic, old libraries, sinks

Image Credit: Mirko Schoenitz15

What Naturally Kills Silverfish?

There are so many remedies when you are looking for natural and organic ways to get rid of silverfish. Natural and organic solutions are cheaper and safe for both you and your family members, so you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals.

You can use boric acid, diatomaceous earth, traps, essential oils, newspapers, and even spices. You may wonder, does salt kill silverfish?

Yes, it does, by dehydrating and killing it.

What Is the Best Pest Control for Silverfish?

There are so many DIY pest control methods when dealing with silverfish; they all work in unique ways. However, there are concerns about their efficacy, especially when dealing with massive infestations.

So, in most cases, the best solution is to call in an exterminator.

How To Keep Silverfish Away (How To Get Rid of Silverfish in Bathroom and Other Places)

While extermination helps get rid of silverfish, nothing comes close to preventive measures. If you don’t want to deal with the pests again after treatment, you have to follow up with the best practices when it comes to keeping them away.

Here are some precautionary measures that you can take.

  • De-humidify your space: There is nothing that the silverfish love more than a humid home.10 So, you can effectively keep them away by reducing the level of humidity, either by fixing leaking taps, removing standing water, airing out wet towels and clothing, or whatever de-humidifies the place.
  • Practice proper food storage: Silverfish will keep coming back for more food unless you store it properly: cover cereal jars, and keep leftovers in airtight containers.3
  • De-clutter your space: You have to dispose of old papers and other items that you don’t need because the insects will gladly live inside the clutter.
  • Repair your home’s walls: If there is any crack or space that the silverfish will sneak through into your home, make sure that you seal and fix it. Removing all possible entry points not only protects you from silverfish but also any other house bugs.

The Silverfish Bug

Did you know that the silverfish predate even dinosaurs? This means that they have been in existence for hundreds of millions of years in the wild until they started infiltrating people’s homes.

They have survived this long, all thanks to how swift they move, their nocturnal nature, and, of course, the inability to easily detect and expel them. They are often confused with the firebrats since they both have the same tendencies.

Photo of a silverfish bug.

(Image: Hans14)

So, how do you tell one apart? Look at the scaly silver/ gray-colored bodies, how the broad head slims down, getting smaller at the abdomen.

They may not be winged but surely make up for it with their speed. As long as the place is warm and damp, they will be there, even if that is the corners of your home, especially if it’s close to their natural habitats.

You don’t want them around, not with their destructive nature. These creatures can’t seem to get enough of books and fabrics, incessantly chewing away at whatever they find, including grains in your kitchen, dust, and dead insects.

Believe that they won’t go anywhere as long as there’s food, water, and shelter, but at least they are not known to pass on diseases, although they are some of the longest-living insects, ready to stick around even for as long as 2-8 years.1

Silverfish Facts You Should Know

Do you want to know more about the pest that you will be dealing with, the silverfish? Here are some facts that not many know about the silverfish.6

  • It is believed that the scaly bodies and the wiggling nature of how the silverfish walks, which are similar to that of a fish is what gives it its name.
  • Since their eyes are pretty sensitive to light, silverfish would rather come out at night, using their antennas to guide them along surfaces.
  • These pests have very little to go by when it comes to natural abilities. What they lack in flight, sting, and attack techniques is definitely made up by their fast running skills, which is literally their sole self-defense skill.
  • What makes silverfish hard to get rid of is its immunity to most bug poisons, and the fast breeding of up to 20 eggs a day only makes infestations worse.
  • The silverfish absolutely loves living in dark, damp, and warm places and thrive where there is clutter, which is why you will find them in the attic, garage, and basements.
  • There are a lot of items that are on the silverfish’s diet, especially those rich in sugar and proteins. They also love eating glue, flour, cotton, dandruff, dust, dead skin, carpet, silk, coffee, and rayon.
  • Silverfish are known to live up to a year without food.7

Detecting Silverfish Infestation

Do you, by any chance, suspect that you have a silverfish infestation on your hands?

Graphics with images and texts that shows the signs of silverfish infestation.

Here is how to be sure.

  • Seeing a silverfish: The easiest way to tell that your house may be under attack is when you spot a live silverfish. Check if it has an elongated body that gets slimmer on the way down and if the skin has a bright silvery color.
  • Shed skin: Given that silverfish go through life cycles, it means that there are chances that you will spot the shed skin of an adolescent, and chances are, by the time you spot these skins, there is already a massive infestation.
  • Holes and damages on things around the house: Silverfish chew into paper, clothing, and just about anything that their mouthparts can dig into. So, if you start seeing holes in your household items, it is time to consider pest control for silverfish.
  • Yellow stains: Apart from damaging your property, silverfish also have a tendency to leave behind some form of yellow dust, and you can spot them in papers and clothing pieces.
  • Droppings: Have you spotted tiny, black particles, and you are not sure what they are? They may be silverfish droppings. You can easily brush them off as dust or debris, but if you clean them and they keep coming back, then that could be a sign.4

Silverfish Control: What Attracts Silverfish to Your Home?

If you have been battling with silverfish for the longest time, but they just keep coming back, then it may be time to look at the bigger picture. Perhaps your house offers the perfect home for them, so all your extermination efforts become futile.

Below are the conditions the silverfish can’t get enough of, and you may unknowingly be welcoming them into your space.

  • Comfortable shelter: Silverfish only stay where they are comfortable.8 As long as your home provides that, they will live and thrive.
    It may be clutter, leaking pipes, leaf litter, standing water, or warm, damp spots in certain rooms.
  • Food sources: Provided that they get the food and water that they need from your house, silverfish will gladly overstay. They love it when there is the clutter of old clothes and papers and will spend their lives eating away and hiding in the warmth.
  • Hiding spots: Silverfish will only stay in one place as long as they can hide from predators and keep their eggs safe. This is why you will likely find them behind pieces of furniture, in bookshelves, and in dark, moist basements.

When To Call Exterminator for Silverfish

One dilemma that homeowners face when dealing with pests is not knowing whether to DIY treatment or call a professional for help. Your first thought would likely be to handle it all on your own, it is a great idea, considering all the upsides.

DIY is cheaper, of course, and more convenient. It is as simple as setting up traps or using organic or chemical sprays, and that’s about it.11

However, many DIY remedies are faulted for not being very effective when it comes to massive infestations. You can go ahead with them if you are certain that you are dealing with a minor attack, and this applies to any other pest, not just the silverfish.

Top shot of a large Silverfish showing its segmented back and crawling on a floor with tiny crumbs of food.

(Image: Luc Coekaerts16)

There are also instances where the remedies just don’t seem to work on the silverfish, so it means that you need something a little stronger. In the same light, most of these ‘strong’ methods are not safe and will require some level of expertise.

If you don’t want to risk it and want nothing but the most effective pest control for silverfish, you may have to consider hiring an exterminator. Such companies have been in the business for the longest time and know what to do depending on particular cases.

So, if you have reason to believe that you are dealing with a massive attack, it may be time to let the experts in, at least that way, you will be sure of a job well done.5

Exterminator Pest Control for Silverfish Cost: Cost of Silverfish Treatment By Professionals

If this is your very first time contacting a professional, you would want to know what to expect, not just about the exterminator prices but also the general steps that are involved. For most companies, there are typically three main steps involved to ensure that pest control is done perfectly.

First and foremost, the exterminator team comes to your house to inspect the extent of damage. They have to look indoors and outdoors, checking the factors leading to the infestation and finally coming up with the best treatment on a by-case basis.

Here is also where you will get your quotation, because the team will account for all the factors, like the number of rooms, the size of the property, how heavy the infestation is, and so much more. This way, they will tell you how much it will all cost.

Afterward, the most important step will be the implementation of the actual treatment. This will include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques and whatever else that will solve the problem.

When all is said and done, there is one more thing that most companies do: control monitoring or, in other words, follow-up treatments. There may be monthly, quarterly, or yearly monitoring based on the above factors, the goal being that the silverfish are exterminated and stay that way.

How To Find a Silverfish Exterminator

Say you have decided to bring in experts to handle a massive silverfish infestation, there is one more thing: choosing the right company for the job.12 Searching might be a little overwhelming, considering that there are so many of them operating in various regions; you have to find a way to shortlist them or narrow them down to just one that will certainly do a great job.

It gets easier if someone refers you to one because most service companies rely on referrals. However, if not, you will have to do more, maybe get different quotations, and then see which one matches your budget.

A silverfish exterminator fumigating a room.

(Image: Michelangelo Buonarroti13)

You should also be very inquisitive, asking whether they are licensed or not, how long they have been in business, if they are insured, which treatment method they recommend, how long the process will take, and any other relevant questions that will help you gauge their level of expertise. At the end of the day, you are looking for a company with the proper credentials that will safely and effectively help with pest control.

Do you suspect that your house is under attack by silverfish? No need to panic because there are so many ways to get rid of these evasive insects.

It starts with knowing whether you are unconsciously harboring them in your home because they stay as long as there is food and shelter. You have to make sure that there is no clutter and that your space is clean and dry at all times, otherwise, they will not hesitate to damage your property.

Luckily, there are so many DIY techniques that you can take advantage of. These are cheaper and more convenient, but remember they are solely for minor infestations.

When it comes to massive attacks, where you are dealing with so many of them, then you will have to consider professional pest control for silverfish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pest Control for Silverfish

Is There an Instant Silverfish Killer?

There are quite a number of instant silverfish killers, but the problem is that most of them are insecticides, harmful chemicals that you should avoid using in your home, especially around kids and pets. However, if you are looking for an instant killer that is organic, you can consider components like diatomaceous earth that cuts into the silverfish exoskeleton.

Read More About Pest Control for Silverfish


References

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2Gallagher, J. (2023). How to Get Rid of Silverfish Infestation. Fantastic Pest Control. Retrieved November 24, 2023, from <https://www.fantasticpestcontrol.co.uk/silverfish/how-to-get-rid-of-silverfish-infestation/>

3O’Hara, L. (2022, March 21). How to Get Rid of Silverfish. Bob Vila. Retrieved November 24, 2023, from <https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-get-rid-of-silverfish/>

4Smith, Z. (2023, September 23). How to Get Rid of Silverfish: 8 Effective Ways. Smith’s Pest Management. Retrieved November 24, 2023, from <https://smithspestmanagement.com/blog/post/how-to-get-rid-of-silverfish/>

5Tollefsen, R. (2023). Home Pest Control: Silverfish Identification, Prevention, and Removal Tips. Unity Home Group. Retrieved November 24, 2023, from <https://www.akhomeshow.com/how-to-deal-with-silverfish/>

6Rust, M. K., & Millard, M. R. (2009, December). Silverfish and Firebrats. University of California Agriculture & Resources. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7475.html>

7Sloderbeck, P. E. (2004, November). Silverfish and Firebrats. Kansas State University. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://krex.k-state.edu/bitstream/handle/2097/21693/KSUL0009KSREEPPUBSEP123a.pdf?sequence=1>

8Utah State University. (2014, March). Silverfish. Utah Pest Press. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://extension.usu.edu/pests/schoolipm/files/pest-press-fact-sheets/pdf/silverfish_pestpress.pdf>

9Alder, P., & Waldvogel, M. (2017, January 31). Silverfish and Firebrats. NC State Extension. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/silverfish-and-firebrats>

10Houseman, R. M., & Sanders, D. (2016, April). Silverfish and Firebrats. University of Missouri Extension. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g7376>

11Arthurs, S., & Hunsberger, A. (2021, December 17). DO-IT-YOURSELF INSECT PEST TRAPS. UF | IFAS Extension. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN1103>

12Labuda, C. (2023). Lepisma saccharina silverfish. Animal Adversity Web. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from <https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lepisma_saccharina/>

13A Woman Disinfecting a Carpet Photo by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Resized. Pexels. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-woman-disinfecting-a-carpet-4176223/>

14Silverfish, Vermin, Animal Photo by Hans. Cropped. Pixabay. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from <https://pixabay.com/photos/silverfish-vermin-animal-61638/>

15Photo 205219133 (Common Silverfish). Photo By Mirko Schoenitz / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped and added shape, text, and background elements. iNaturalist. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from <https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/205219133>

16Zilvervisje – Common Silverfish Photo by Luc Coekaerts / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Resized. flickr. Retrieved January 12, 2024, from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/luc_coekaerts/50588284747/>