How To Remove Silverfish From Your Home

November 9, 2015

Silverfish are wingless insects that move across the floor with a fish-like wiggling movement. This insect is .5 to 1” long and it tapers from the head to the end which gives it a fish like shape. It is silver/blue (though after a series of molting it may appear brownish) in color and its skin has the appearance of scales. With its long antennas and set of three long cerci at the end of its stomach, this bug is creepy looking and not something we would like to share our homes with. A newly hatched silverfish is white in color and is hatched in full form. It will grow and molt several times before it is fully grown.

silverfish on brown background

Silverfish move rapidly! Their natural predators are spiders and centipedes, but they are very good at out running them. They can live up to eight years! They are nocturnal and their favorite places to live are in dark and damp areas like under sinks and in kitchens and bathrooms. They also like basements and laundry rooms. They avoid light so they can be seen wiggling across the floor when a light is activated in an area where they live. 

Silverfish are ugly and look nasty, but they are not known to carry any diseases to humans. But before you relax and consider them an acceptable houseguest consider this. Silverfish cause thousands of dollars in property damage every year! They have a diet of things that contain polysaccharides. This is found in adhesives, glue, book bindings, carpet, cotton, wallpaper, dandruff, hair, paper and sugar among other things. Silverfish may eat leather, silk and other bugs as well. You cannot starve them out. A silverfish can live for up to year without feeding.

Important books and paperwork including historical documents can be a feast for these pests. Book pages, covers and bindings can be completely destroyed. Besides the visible damaged caused by the feedings of the bugs, there will be a pepper like substance on the damaged items. Though it may seem to be dirt, it is actually silverfish feces.

A female silverfish can lay up to 60 eggs at one time in a tiny crevice. In two weeks to two months that is 60 more bugs crawling around in your dark house at night. A female will usually lay less than 100 eggs in a lifetime. But each female that she produces will lay their own 60-100 eggs in time.

How can you get rid of Silverfish?

There are many home remedies out there to deal with silverfish infestation. However, most are only able to deal with part of the problem. Silverfish are so plentiful and well-hidden and the eggs can be in so many places, it takes a professional to design a multi-step program to get rid of them. Though cinnamon may repel silverfish from an area, it does not kill them. They simply relocate to another area of the house. Insecticides and traps can kill individual silverfish but they do not kill all of the bugs. It does little good to kill a few adult bugs in your home, just to have hundreds more hatching in the nooks and crannies.

At the first sight of a Silverfish, or items that show silverfish damage, call an exterminator. The faster the insects and their eggs are destroyed the better. This is a problem that gets worse over time, not better. Silverfish reproduce rapidly.

Silverfish Bites

Silverfish are big and ugly and nasty. They are sometimes mistaken for a particular centipede that is poison to humans, but a silverfish bites are not harmful to humans. Silverfish do not bite humans and as stated before, they do not carry disease.

When a silverfish bites something like cloth, or paper – it leaves tiny holes in the material. It also may leave a yellowish stain.

Keeping Them Away!

After a professional has effectively eliminated silverfish from your home, there are a few things to ensure they will stay gone. Keep areas as dry as possible. Clean areas (especially areas where there is water) with citrus based cleaner to repel any silverfish from new infestation of your home. Silverfish do not like the smell of citrus, cloves, or cinnamon. After an exterminator has removed the silverfish, place a few cloves in any area where there were silverfish. 

Clean up laundry as soon as possible. Damp clothes are a favorite place for a silverfish. Do not leave food out at night. This includes leaving dirty dishes in the sink. A silverfish will be attracted to the food. Check paper items often for any new damage, and if you suspect a re-infestation call your exterminator as soon as possible. 

Though getting rid of silverfish is difficult, it is not impossible. Your exterminator can show you effective ways to prevent them from returning.


If you see even one silverfish in your home, assume the worse. Store family documents, important photographs and precious books in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Once an important item has been damaged by the silverfish, the damage cannot be undone. Also consider the storage of expensive leather products, wedding gowns and memorials. Until you are sure the problem is eradicated, it is wise to keep these items safe. If the infestation is extreme, consider removing the containers from the home until your professional gives you the all clear.

You will be glad you did when you realize how quickly silverfish can ruin your precious items. 

Alliance Pest Services is your local Silverfish Monmouth County pest control service provider.

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