How to Get Rid of Silverfish Without Harmful Pesticides

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Silverfish find many good food sources in the average home. These small, silver insects eat paper, cardboard, grains (including breakfast cereal) glues and even mold or mildew. Although these bugs are not directly harmful to humans, they are unsightly and may damage important items. Many pesticides get rid of these creatures. Unfortunately, pesticides are not just harmful to pests, they can also be harmful to humans and pets. You can get rid of silverfish without resorting to pesticides--it just takes a bit more work.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Sealed Plastic Food Containers
  • Dust mask
  • Food-grade diatomaceous earth

Sweep and mop all floors in rooms where you have seen silverfish. The bathroom and kitchen are typical rooms these bugs tend to inhabit. Cleaning removes crumbs of food, mold and mildew, which are food sources for silverfish.

Remove food from your cupboards and clean the shelves well with soap and water. While the cupboards are drying, place all flour, rice, cereal and other grain based or starchy foods (instant potato mix is an example) into sealed plastic food containers.

Put on a dust mask and sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth in the corners of the cupboard shelves. Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that dries insects out. Place the food back into the cupboard.

Remove any potentially infested cardboard (in basements, closets or elsewhere) from your home. Place documents in sealed plastic or metal containers. Cardboard, particularly if it gets damp, is a treat for silverfish.

Apply diatomaceous earth in corners and along edges between floors and walls, in a thin line, wherever you have noticed silverfish or wherever you believe they may be living.

Keep floors, tables and shelves free of mold, mildew and foods. Re-apply diatomaceous earth as needed (at least once a month) .

Tips & Warnings

  • If your home has a moisture problem, invest in a dehumidifier to keep humidity low. Basement leaks and unventilated damp bathrooms also contribute to silverfish infestations. You can buy food-grade diatomaceous earth at many green-living stores and health food stores, as well as online.
  • Do not inhale diatomaceous earth--it is a respiratory irritant (due to the drying nature of this substance). For the same reason, use caution when using this around pets and kids.

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