The silverfish is a wingless, small sized insect, pertaining to the Thysanura order. Its name comes from the physical aspect it has, due to its metallic gray scales and its undulating movements similar to those of fish. Being a cosmopolitan insect, the silverfish is widespread throughout the world, and can be found on almost all continents. Although it adapts to any environment and can survive a long time without food, the silverfish prefers humid environments and high temperatures. In an urban environment, in favourable conditions, they can be found in in the bathroom, laundry room, basement and kitchen. Since they are avoiding light during the day, they hide in holes, dark cracks as well as washing machines or unglued wallpaper. They are attracted to cellulosic materials or wet clothing that can be found in cabinets or storage boxes and due to their culinary preferences, you can find them in boxes and packets of food left unclosed.
To be considered serious pests, these insects must be present in large numbers, but keep in mind that the appearance of a silverfish in your home always indicates that there are stealthier others, hiding somewhere and thus, it can be a sign that you might be experiencing an infestation of silverfish. The main preventative measures you can take to avoid such an infestation is controlling the level of humidity in your home, eliminating their possible food sources, keeping a clean environment at all time, and in order to eliminate potential invaders from the start, you can use natural or chemical repellents.
Keep in mind that, as is the case with most insect infestations, creating an unwelcoming environment is the best way you can prevent them, and this can most often and easily be achieved through the implementation of proper measures of sanitation.
Preventive measures against silverfish
- inspect any cardboard boxes, furniture, and construction materials before you bring them inside;
- caulk any cracks, crevices, or holes that may make potential entry points;
- reduce the humidity indoors; you can do this by using a dehumidifier, an air conditioner, or, somewhat less effectively, by keeping the fans on and properly ventilating the rooms;
- install a good fan in showers;
- if you have constant problems with humidity, you should check the plumbing of the house;
- caulk all cracks and crevices, especially those in damp areas, thus greatly reducing the silverfish’s ability to find a suitable place to lay eggs;
- remove food ‘temptations’, such as too many books lying in disarray on floors, old piles of laundry, cardboard boxes, etc.; this is an extremely important step that should become incorporated into your routine, seeing as silverfish can live up to a year without food;
- if you have old wallpaper, you may want to consider removing it or at the very least replacing it with new one;
- if you store old or out-of-season clothing in basements or closets, better place it in plastic bags instead, which are impenetrable to silverfish;
- keep food (such as cereal) in plastic or glass containers instead of cardboard;
- keep kitchen floors, counters, and cupboards clean, paying special attention to the points where the baseboards meet the floors;
- frequently wipe down bookcases, closet shelves, door and window frames;
- vacuum at least once a week, seeing as this helps keep any possible food sources to a minimum, as well as suck out any eggs or actual silverfish that may be hiding in carpets, baseboards, as well as any cracks or crevices; be sure to also vacuum in tight spots, such as behind ovens, microwaves, toasters, and refrigerators;
- if you notice that your carpets are damp, you can try to dry them by using baking soda; leave it to absorb the moisture for a couple of hours, before vacuuming it up;
- frequently moving things around is also a good way of disturbing silverfish and, thus, ensuring that they do not get too cozy inside your home;
- silverfish despise extreme heat and cold, so, if you can stand it, you can try heating up a room where you might have noticed them milling around to over 26 or below 15 degrees Celsius;
- make use of spice sachets in cabinets; cloves, cinnamon, and, in general, all strong-smelling spices are repelling to silverfish;
- working with the same principle as above, sprinkle cedar shavings in potential hiding spots; mothballs and thick slices of cucumber can be used for the same purpose;
- you can also use lemon, lavender, or cedar essential oil to create your own repelling treatment;
- spraying the outside of your house with a residual insecticide will go a long way towards keeping a variety of bugs, including silverfish, out;
- de-cluttering outdoor areas (any debris, stones, piles of wood, mulch, etc.) in order to remove hiding places close to your home is also a good idea.
Silverfish are considered household pests, due to their consumption and destruction of property. However, although they are responsible for the contamination of food and other types of damage, they do not transmit disease. Earwigs, house centipedes, and spiders are known to be predators of silverfish, but you cannot rely on other pests doing the job for you. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in cabinets and other dark areas. It’s made out of ground-up fossilized material, and the sharp edges of each individual grain of dust puncture insects’ exoskeletons and cause them to die without causing any harm to humans or pets. Sprinkle the substance in your cabinets, along baseboards, and anywhere else you’d like before you go to bed. In the morning, vacuum up the powder (and along with it, the silverfish). Vacuum your house often as this helps to keep their food sources down and sucks eggs out of the carpet and baseboards. Vacuum at least once a week and when necessary, you can dry out your carpets by sprinkling them with baking soda, leaving it for a few hours, then vacuuming it up. This dries out the eggs so you can easily vacuum them up.
If you are already dealing with a strong infestation and do not know ‘How to get rid of Silverfish‘, follow the steps presented in our related article, and keep in mind that preventive measures must be applied at all time, if you want to avoid the reoccurrence of such an event.