How to Remove Silverfish

(Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Flat, scaly and about half an inch long, silverfish are common household pests. They're harmless, but they can be a nuisance because they like to feed on wallpaper, books, drapes, cardboard and clothing containing silk or cotton. If you see them scuttling around, there are steps you can take to reduce their population and make sure they don't return.

Things You'll Need

  • HEPA vacuum
  • Caulking gun
  • Dehumidifier
  • Air-tight storage bins
  • Pesticides

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Figure out where the silverfish are coming from. Indoors, silverfish are commonly found in dark, moist environments like bathrooms, kitchens, attics and basements.

Check for cracks in walls and floors that could lead to silverfish nests between walls and insulation. Clean around these areas with a HEPA vacuum and seal them with a caulking gun.

Declutter to eliminate potential nesting areas, such as musty cardboard boxes or stacks of old newspaper.

Silverfish feed on mold, damp cardboard and wallpaper.
Silverfish feed on mold, damp cardboard and wallpaper. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Eliminate food sources through regular vacuuming and cleaning. A silverfish's diet can include human hair and dandruff, book bindings and glue and foods that are rich in sugar and starch. Keep kitchen counters and cupboards clean, and store consumables like flour in air-tight plastic or glass containers.

Reduce excess moisture and humidity in the home, since silverfish thrive in damp environments. Fix leaking faucets, run a dehumidifier and run ceiling fans when cooking and taking showers.

Use crawling-insect pesticides on wall cracks and other potential nesting areas, such as the area behind kitchen appliances, the backs of cupboards and closets and at the base of bookshelves. Spray-based pesticides are stronger while powder-based insecticides are longer-lasting.

Consider natural pesticides if you have pets or children, such as the Pyrethrum plant, Borax (boric acid) or Epsom salts.

Build simple silverfish traps out of cardboard and bait them with honey. Traps can be effective if you aren't sure exactly where the silverfish are coming from.

Tolerate spiders in the home, since they are natural predators of silverfish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Read the labels on insecticides carefully, and take necessary precautions before using the product. Insecticides can be poisonous to pets and children.


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