How To Get Rid Of Silverfish And Stop Them Returning

Silverfish are one of the most common pest insects in the UK. Contrary to popular belief, a silverfish infestation doesn't mean that you have a messy home. In fact, silverfish are actually attracted to clean and tidy homes, but this is little reassurance to those dealing with a silverfish infestation.For a severe silverfish infestation, you may need to call in professional pest control services. But if you have only spotted a few and want to know how to get rid of silverfish from your home, there are a few effective methods you can try at home.

Silverfish close up

How To Identify Silverfish Infestations

The first step in eliminating a silverfish infestation is to spot the early signs that you have an issue. These pets are nocturnal insects, so you might not be aware they are in your home. Silverfish are small insects around 0.5" to 1" in length. They are grey in colour and covered in tiny scales, which is they they are known as silverfish. They have a voracious appetite for starchy food sources such as boxes, newspaper or books. Despite their small size, they can actually cause a lot of damage.

Telltales signs of a silverfish infestation include yellow stains on clothing along with small holes in paper or cardboard items. You might also notice silverfish droppings, which look like small black peppercorns. Silverfish shed periodically, so you might notice their outer shells. These might look like dead silverfish, but they are just the outer shells that have been shed. This is a sign the silverfish infestation is maturing.

What Causes A Silverfish Infestation?

Silverfish are very particular about their environments, so if the conditions are right, they are more likely to multiply and cause an infestation. To be able to thrive, silverfish need food sources, proper habitat, somewhere to hide and a place to lay their eggs.

As nocturnal insects, they like to be able to hide from the light and stay out of sight. This makes them more likely to hide in places like bookshelves, cupboards, laundry rooms and behind furniture. For example, if you have a cupboard where you store lots of old boxes and newpapers, this would be an ideal place for silverfish to hide.

They also need a source of food. This could include unsealed dried food packets, dead plants, cardboard boxes, pet food and fabrics. And finally, to be able to lay their eggs, they need a damp areas that are undisturbed. This could include damp basements, or anywhere near leaky pipes.

Silverfish inspection

Are Silverfish Harmful To Pets?

While not harmful, its possible they could trigger allergic reactions if your pets are sensitive to the silverfish and their eggs. There is also the risk that they could combine with other indoor allergens such as dust mites and cause stronger allergic reactions. Whether you or your pets are allergic to silverfish is beside the point, you will still want to prevent silverfish from taking hold in your home. The damage they can do to possessions can be quite distressing, particularly if they eat old photographs or important documents.

How To Get Rid Of Silverfish?

Now you know how to identify a silverfish infestation, it's time to consider how to get rid of silverfish. Regular cleaning will help to disturb the silverfish and prevent them from laying eggs. There are many natural repellants you can try and these may be household items you already have to hand. For more severe silverfish infestations, we would recommend chemical methods, or you could call in a pest control professional.

You should also control food sources by keeping dry food in airtight containers. Keep paper and cardboard off the floor and store on shelves to help stop a pest infestation.

Creating Traps To Attract Silverfish

You can buy a wide range of commercial traps to help trap and kill silverfish. This includes sticky traps that will attract silverfish and then trap them on the surface, eventually killing them. By killing the silverfish, you can prevent them from laying eggs in your home.

Homemade traps are also highly effective for eliminating silverfish infestations. First, you need something that attracts silverfish, such as old paper or cardboard boxes. Grab a glass jar and then wrap the outside with masking tape. This will make it possible for the silverfish to climb up the sides of the jar to access the bait inside. Once inside, they will be unable to climb out of the smooth glass surface inside and you can dispose of them outside your home. This is a preferred method for anyone who doesn't want to kill these creepy crawlies with sticky traps.

Use Cedar Oil

Essential oils are highly effective for getting rid of silverfish and preventing them from returning. While cedar oil won't kill silverfish, it will deter them and prevent them from laying eggs. If you have figure out where the silverfish live in your home and then generously coat the area with cedar oil using a spray bottle, you may be able to discourage silverfish from nesting in your home. This is highly effective for preventing silverfish infestations, but it won't help with killing silverfish if they have already taken hold in your home.

Scatter Bay Leaves

The ideal silverfish deterrent could be sitting right in your kitchen cupboards. Head to the pantry and grab some bay leaves. These are known to repel silverfish as they dislike the essential oils found in bay leaves. This is known to be a highly effective silverfish treatment that is completely natural.

Try Boric Acid

If you need to know how to get rid of silverfish in a lesser used location such as a damp basement or other seldom used space, boric acid can be highly effective. First, remove all food sources from the area and store items like cardboard and paper on higher shelves. Next, hoover the area and get rid of the contents of the hoover bag. Finally, sprinkle boric acid (sometimes known as Borax) on the floor and in cracks that might allow silverfish to thrive. The boric acid will kill silverfish and their eggs, making it a natural pest control method.

Silverfish information


A silverfish infestation in your home doesn't have to be problematic. Once you know how to spot the signs of an insect infestation, you can take steps to get rid of silverfish. Start by eliminating their food sources. Silverfish are attracted to things like dried food, pet food and paper sources. Next, make sure the area is clean by hoovering thoroughly. You can use traps to prevent silverfish or use natural methods to kill silverfish and silverfish eggs.

Still need help with other types of pests or a more extensive silverfish problem? Get in touch with our team today.

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