Silverfish are small, wingless insects found everywhere in the world. Their scientific name is Lepisma saccharina, and they are not fish. The common name is due to their silvery colour and the way their bodies move from side to side as they walk.
Although not dangerous to humans, silverfish can be destructive when they become a pest. Learning how to prevent and get rid of silverfish is something every homeowner should know.
Unfortunately, silverfish infestations can be difficult to detect at first, as they are quite shy and nocturnal insects. But once they find a favourable spot, they reproduce quickly and can destroy your favourite items in just a few days.
Photo albums or clothes that ended up in a box in the basement become a meal for a multitude of silverfish. Read on to learn how to protect your home from a silverfish infestation.
Preventing a silverfish infestation
The best way to avoid a silverfish infestation is prevention. The general recommendation is to avoid conditions that favour their emergence and reproduction. In short, avoid leaving the things they like and need to live within their reach.
Silverfish are looking for food, a place to hide and moisture. If they do not find these things in your home, they will not thrive and will never become a problem.
Tips for preventing silverfish
Here are some tips to prevent silverfish from becoming a problem in your home:
- Store all dry pantry foods in closed containers, especially those containing starch or sugars. This will keep them free of moisture and away from silverfish.
- Dust or vacuum your home frequently. Dust particles can serve as food for silverfish.
- Store clothes in a dry place. Clothes that will not be worn for a long time should be kept in a closed container and protected from moisture.
- Do not leave leftover food. Crumbs from a dinner party can provide a complete meal for these insects.
- Cover cracks and holes in walls and floors to keep silverfish (and other insects) out, preventing them from hiding and laying eggs.
- Avoid excess moisture. If you live in a humid climate, or with a very wet season, get a dehumidifier. Reducing the relative humidity of the air to less than 60% prevents many types of insects (and mites) from thriving in your home.
- Ventilate rooms that can accumulate moisture. This includes the bathroom or kitchen, so open windows and turn on the ventilation frequently to remove moisture.
- Get rid of brush, wood, and leaf piles around your home.
How to detect a silverfish infestation?
Silverfish can live in almost any environment, but they prefer the warm and moist areas. Despite their shy nature, when there are enough of them, it is easy to spot one or more of the following signs.
Seeing live silverfish
Silverfish are small, nocturnal insects, so you may not see them often, but that does not mean they are not around. Seeing a single silverfish does not guarantee an infestation, but it should be enough for closer inspection.
Seeing their droppings in places where they concentrate
Silverfish droppings resemble small black peppercorns and are found in areas they frequent such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and storage areas. Without careful examination, they can easily go unnoticed.
Silverfish shed their skin several times throughout their life cycle. These outer shells are delicate, but with proper examination, they can be another important clue to a possible infestation.
You may see yellow stains on books, papers and cardboard boxes indicating that silverfish have been there.
The damage they cause
Silverfish love to eat sugars, starches, papers, clothes, stickers, and even wallpaper. If you notice holes in these items, it is possible that you are dealing with a silverfish infestation.
Getting rid of a silverfish infestation
Traditional poisons are not very effective on silverfish, and at best kill the adults, leaving the eggs behind. In addition, it is possible that the outside of the house is a reservoir that can repopulate your home in a few weeks.
If you are a property owner who wishes to eliminate silverfish, you will need to remove it simultaneously from the house and the surrounding area. You will find that getting rid of the problem will be a mix of pest elimination and lifestyle changes.
Professional pest control is the most effective way to eliminate silverfish. The pest control person can do many things to eliminate the silverfish problem.
Pyrethrin is a common pesticide that many pest control people use to kill silverfish. Pyrethrin comes in liquid form and can be used to kill adult silverfish, but not their eggs.
The pest control technician can also use products such as diatomaceous earth, which helps dehydrate the adults when passed over.
Most importantly, the pest control person should be able to identify entry points and possible places where silverfish hang out.
A good pest controller will also give you recommendations on lifestyle changes, and small renovations, that you can make to prevent your home from being overrun by a silverfish infestation in the future.