The first step in silverfish extermination: control your humidity levels
Although silverfish themselves aren’t harmful, their presence in the house is rather troublesome and it can cause damage, especially if the problem grows. This nocturnal insect proliferates in warm, humid environments such as kitchens and bathrooms. That’s why the control and prevention of silverfish is all about modifying the damp environments in your home.
What do silverfish look like?
This insect is of the order Zygentoma. A silverfish measures just over a centimeter at maturity, and its body is covered with shiny silvery scales—hence the name. It is equipped with two long antennae, a tiny head and a waxy covering that ensures it doesn’t lose its precious water content through evaporation.
From the age of three months, the female can lay between 10 and 100 eggs. The whitish, oval-shaped eggs are hidden in the cracks and baseboards of your home. The life expectancy of a silverfish is about 4 to 5 years.
Where are the silverfish hiding in my house?
Since they can’t live without water and warmth, silverfish keep to rooms where these two elements are present, especially kitchens, bathrooms and heated basements.
Silverfish are mostly active at night, so their numbers can have been growing for quite some time before you discover them. Their favourite hiding places are:
- Cracks and crevices
- Under floors
- Wall voids
- Dark corners of basements, bathrooms and kitchens
- Libraries and studies (yes, they eat paper)
- Closet shelves
- Behind baseboards and door and window frames
Problems caused by a silverfish infestation
Silverfish can feed on a variety of materials commonly found in your home:
- Fungi and moulds
- Dust and mites
- Human hair and animal hair
- Dead insects or other silverfish
- Flour and bread
- Wet paper
Even as they eat and “clean” all those hard-to-reach cracks and corners that you can’t get to with a broom or vacuum cleaner, silverfish still cause more damage than they help you.
Pay particular attention to bags of flour in your pantry. If you start to notice small holes in the paper bags, examine the contents carefully—you might just find some silvery bugs swimming in the flour. If in doubt, throw it away. The same goes for boxes of cereal.
If you have a bookshelf, inspect your books. Silverfish will leave small holes in the bindings, along with gouged pages that have traces of dark yellow excreta on them.
Be especially vigilant if you are a collector of old documents such as stamps, photos, books and newspapers. Over time, these objects can become damp and turn into a veritable feast for silverfish.
How to get rid of them
As with many other insects that proliferate in humid conditions (cockroaches, centipedes, drain flies, etc.), the extermination of silverfish depends on the proper control of humidity levels in the building.
We recommend that you:
- Repair any faucet leaks
- Insulate pipes that produce condensation
- Check all drains
- Ensure there is no water infiltrating the house
- Air out your home regularly and run a dehumidifier in damp rooms
- Deal with all mould problems in the home
In addition to managing the humidity levels in your home, it’s important to vacuum regularly. Not only does this help you pick up the food crumbs that pest insects love to much on, but it also lets you get rid of any silverfish eggs laying around.
Make sure your kitchen and bathroom sinks are kept clean, and don’t leave damp sponges or cloths laying around.
You can also create silverfish traps with glass jars, around which you stick strips of masking tape. Place some flour or a small piece of bread inside, and then set the traps in corners where you’ve spotted the insects. Attracted by the food, they can crawl up and into the jar via the masking tape, but they won’t be able to climb back up the smooth inner walls of the jars to exit.
If this tactic doesn’t work, use diatomaceous earth. This can be bought in gardening centres and hardware stores, and it is non-toxic to humans. Sprinkle the powder along baseboards and behind furniture, as well as under appliances. Avoid breathing in the dust.
Silverfish eggs can be unwittingly brought into your home in cardboard boxes, stacks of paper or in book bindings. Get rid of any boxes and packaging you don’t need, and store dry food staples in glass jars or hard plastic containers.
At what point should I call in a silverfish exterminator?
Keep in mind that if a silverfish infestation has existed for a long time, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to eradicate it. A large infestation should always be treated by pest-management professionals.
So, if you’ve tried all the above tips and still aren’t having any luck in getting rid of the silverfish in your home, it’s time to call us.
Our exterminators use products that won’t harm the environment or you and those you live with. If you have young children and pets, or if you live with elderly or sick people, we pay close attention to the type of product used and how we apply it.