Silverfish are a common household pest that feast on things like wallpaper glue, bookbinding, plaster, paper, drywall, carpet and other materials so although your home is unlikely to suffer extensive structural damage, common household items can be destroyed if these critters are left unchecked.
Environments they prefer: They’re attracted to dark, humid locations (such as basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, drains) and are nocturnal so you’ll find them out and about mainly at night.
Are they dangerous? They aren’t interested in feasting off humans (and don’t transmit disease or poison anyone), though they are pests that can destroy books, garments, paper goods and other household items.
Pantry items they are attracted to: Quick cooking oats, cornstarch, sugar, high starch foods and can survive without eating for up to a year.
I’ve listed a few tips below for getting rid of and repelling silverfish but keep in mind any eggs that have been laid may take up to two months to hatch, so you’ll likely find new populations to deal with over several weeks.
First here are a few cleaning tips:
- Vacuum frequently to get rid of eggs (especially well around floor boards and crevices). Empty vacuum cleaner contents into a plastic bag, tie securely and dispose of immediately.
- Wash all surfaces regularly with a peppermint or eucalyptus cleaner to help repel them.
- Keep foods in sealed plastic containers or glass jars.
- Infested books & garments: Freeze for a few days to kill any eggs.
Homemade Poisoned Baits
*Keep out of reach of children and pets
- Jar Trap: An old-timer’s trick is to wrap tall glass jars with masking tape or twine around the outside (to make a rough surface for the bugs to crawl on) and then fill about 1/2″ of quicks oats inside the jar. Place near a bookshelf, stacks of newspapers and magazines or where you suspect their hotspots are. They will be attracted by the oats and get inside the jar but won’t be able to crawl out since the smooth glass surface inside the jar prevents that. Empty and refill jar regularly.
- Borax Traps: A 50/50 mix of Borax and flour, or Borax and powdered sugar, or Borax and quick oats in cupcake holders placed around the house will draw them.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle around floor boards and areas you believe the silverfish are traveling. This is a non-toxic pesticide that is picked up by the insect as it crawls through it, scratches through its protective shell or layers and then absorbed. The result is rapid water loss and the bugs eventually dry up and die.
- Molasses & Borax: Mix molasses and Borax then spread on heavy paper or cardboard and leave around the house.
- Mashed Potato Balls: Mix mashed potatoes with alum powder, shape into balls and lay on squares of newspaper or cardboard around the house.
The items below are commonly referenced and believed to be silverfish repellents. Sprinkle them around floor boards, in cupboards and drawers or areas you know they traveling and gathering. You can also make sachets or fill cupcake wrappers and place around the home.
- Bay leaves
- Epsom salts
- Whole cloves
- Cucumber peels
- Sachet Mix #1: 1 teaspoon each dried lavender buds, cinnamon stick pieces, whole cloves and black peppercorns.
- Sachet Mix #2: Rosemary, lavender, whole cloves.