Pests 101: Silverfish

Silverfish are little, nocturnal insects that are a common pest in the US.

Silverfish are little, nocturnal insects that are a common pest in the US. 

What silverfish look like?

Silverfish are wingless small insects that get their name from their color (a silver or metallic brown hue) and their fish-like movement. They have tapered tails and antenna and move quick. 

How to know if you have silverfish?

Signs of a silverfish infestation include:

  • Feeding marks such as holes, notches, or etches on a surface
  • Yellow stains or scales
  • Feces, which appear as tiny black pellets
  • Live insects

Silverfish are shy insects and will hide from humans and movement. While they do not fly, they can run very quickly. 

Are silverfish harmful?

Silverfish do not pose a significant threat to humans. They do not bite humans or animals, do not carry disease and are not poisonous. However, they can spread germs if they come from the outside and can contaminate food. 


Silverfish has a potential to trigger allergies as a person can be allergic to silverfish droppings or their scales. Silverfish shed scales that contain a protein called tropomyosin which can combine with other allergens like dust to cause allergic reactions. 


Additionally, they can do some damage to buildings and possessions. 

What can I do to prevent silverfish?

Silverfish can have very picky palates, which cause commercial synthetic baits often to not work against silverfish. 


Ideas to prevent silverfish include:

  • Dry up your home by using fans or dehumidifiers
  • Remove piles of wet leaves and keep wood off the ground away from homes
  • Seal up gaps, cracks, and holes in basements, attics, foundations or outer walls
  • Keep basements, attics, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms clean and dry
  • Remove food sources by cleaning out closes, cupboards, and dusting bookshelves
  • Store food products in glass or plastic airtight containers to prevent silverfish from getting inside
  • Remove gutter clogs to prevent water collecting in soil

Scary silverfish facts:

Silverfish have been walking around the Earth for more than 400 million years, and remain pretty much the same as their pre-dinosaur days. They can live up to 6 months without food or water. While they used to chomp on books years ago when books were bound with natural glues high in starch and sugar, nowadays they tend to stay away and instead favor other natural fibers. 

What do I do if I find silverfish in my apartment?

There are a number of home remedies to prevent silverfish including:

  • Cedar shavings: Sprinkle cedar shavings or oil in the infected areas. This can get a bit messy and should be vacuumed and replaced once a week. 
  • Citrus fruits: Place orange or lemon peels in infested areas. Replace regularly. 
  • Cloves: Dried cloves contain eugenol which can repel silverfish
  • Use a natural insecticide: Using plant-based insect sprays can kill silverfish on-contact, while naturally repellent silverfish. By using a spray like EXO that is plant-based, there is no known resistance and plant oils can be effective against chemically-resistant species. 

 

 


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