Silverfish are fairly harmless, but these grayish-blue, serpentine creatures aren’t pleasant to have around the house. They feed on books, dead skin cells, and other starchy materials and thrive in dark, wet spaces. Once you’ve determined you have an infestation, you need to learn how to get rid of silverfish by trapping them, repelling them, killing them with insecticides, and making your home less hospitable. There are plenty of options to try, so be aware that you may have to experiment and implement several techniques to completely fix your silverfish problem.
If you’re dealing with a silverfish infestation, you may be able to handle it without calling the exterminators, using products found around your house:
– Use a mason jar, masking tape, and bread to make a simple trap.
– Use old newspapers to make quick, inexpensive traps.
– Sprinkle diatomaceous earth to kill silverfish on contact.
– Use cedar shavings to repel silverfish.
– Make packets of spices to keep silverfish out of cabinets.
– Use lavender or citrus essential oil to create a spray that repels silverfish.
Figure out where they’re lurking. Since silverfish are nocturnal, you may not see them during the day. Rather, you’ll probably become aware of their presence because of what they leave behind. Look for damp, dark areas with small spots of excrement that look like black pepper. Small holes and yellowish stains on clothing, wallpaper, cereal boxes, and other cardboard or fabric materials also indicate they’re nearby. Finally, silverfish shed their skin, so you can look around for tiny skin casts in your bathroom, basement and other areas where you suspect they live.
Set out homemade glass silverfish traps. Take a quart-sized mason jar or another glass container. Wrap the outside of the container with a piece of masking tape. Place a piece of bread at the bottom of the glass. Set the glass in an area where you suspect silverfish reside. Make sure to wrap tape all the way to the top. The silverfish will climb into the glass to eat the bread, but they’ll be unable to get back out, since the glass is too slippery.
Try newspaper traps. Roll up a newspaper, band the ends with elastic, and moisten it. Set it out where you often see silverfish leavings before you go to bed. In the morning, silverfish will have eaten their way into the newspaper, since you’ve provided them with both food and a cozy environment. Throw the newspapers away (without unrolling them) or burn them. Repeat every night until you don’t see any more signs of silverfish. Make as many traps as necessary to trap the silverfish in your home. Depending on the severity of your infestation, you may need to set them out several nights in a row.
Use store-bought traps. If you don’t want silverfish touching your glassware, you can buy traps designed to catch them from a hardware store. Any type of sticky traps will work. Buy some “roach motels” or smaller traps you can set around to catch the silverfish. You can bait them with small pieces of bread or another starch.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in cabinets and other dark areas. This powdery substance is actually food-grade, and it’s used to kill anything that crawls. 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.
Try boric acid. This is another natural substance that kills both silverfish and their eggs. Sprinkle it along baseboards, under the bathtub, and in other areas where you see silverfish signs. Be careful not to inhale boric acid when you apply it, since it’s toxic to the lungs. Avoid using it where your household pets might get into it, too.
Sprinkle cedar shavings where they live. Silverfish are repelled by the smell of cedar, so you can keep them away by sprinkling it around areas where they live. Since cedar shavings can make a bit of a mess, use them in outdoor areas, basements, and other places where you don’t mind having wood shavings lying around. Vacuum them up and replace them every week or so.
Use spice sachets in your kitchen cabinets. Silverfish don’t like the smell of spices, so making up little sachets of cloves, cinnamon, and other strong-smelling spices and placing them in your kitchen cabinets is a great, safe way to keep them away from your food.
Use a citrus or lavender spray. Both of these scents are also effective in repelling silverfish, and they’re completely nontoxic to humans, of course. Get some lemon or lavender essential oil from a health food store. Dilute with water and shake the solution up in a spray bottle and spray liberally in all areas where you don’t want silverfish. These sprays are great for closets, drawers, and other bedroom areas.
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