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Silverfish are by far one of the most cursed insects that can infest your home—right next to cockroaches and centipedes. If you have the misfortune of these critters taking up residence in your humble abode, you’ll want to act fast. Apart from their creepy, fish-like shape and movements, they can live for up to eight years and reproduce frequently, according to Healthline. While these invaders aren’t necessarily a threat to humans (they don’t bite or spread disease), PestWorld notes that they can damage your personal belongings like books and wallpaper. Not to mention, they may trigger allergies in some people and attract other insects, like carpet beetles.
Don’t fret, there are plenty of ways you can get rid of silverfish—and prevent future infestations. Here’s everything you need to know, including easy steps you can take to get rid of them using both at-home ingredients and products you can find at your local home improvement store.
First, what are the signs of a silverfish infestation?
Silverfish move fast and are great climbers. Apart from actually seeing the shiny insects, other signs you have a silverfish infestation include seeing their “pepper-like feces,” yellow stains, shed skin, and feeding damage (like holes, notches along an edge, or surface etchings), according to PestWorld. Yuck.
What areas of the home do they like to live in?
The nocturnal insects can survive long periods without food or water, but they need to be in areas with high humidity. That means bathrooms, basements, and attics are prime environments for them. Pest control company Orkin notes on its website that the bugs are “secretive and the severity of an infestation may go unnoticed for long periods of time, allowing for exponential growth.”
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How to get rid of silverfish in your home:
1. Dehumidify your home.
Silverfish love environments that are 72 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and have at least 50 to 75 percent relative humidity, according to PestWorld. A good way to start the process of getting rid of them is by using a dehumidifier, especially in damp areas of your home.
2. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is a powder that, among other things, can kill insects by dehydrating or drying them out. When silverfish encounter it, the powder ruins their outer coating, causing them to lose moisture and die. Sprinkle a little bit of it around your home’s baseboards and in other areas you’ve seen the insects lurking.
3. Set up traps.
As with most insects, traps exist to capture and kill silverfish. You can find them on Amazon and at your local home improvement store. Many of them use boric acid to poison the bugs. They can be effective when placed in the spots you most often see the bugs but keep in mind that they are toxic. If you have children or pets, it will be safer to go with a different option. You can also try using sticky traps as an alternative, which use special glue (sans pesticides or toxic chemicals) to hold the bugs in place.
4. Try natural remedies.
If you want to try a natural option, use cedar oil and water in a diffuser or spray bottle. The strong smell may repel the insects. Healthline also notes the oils in dried bay leaves can also repel the creatures.
5. Seek professional help.
If you suspect an infestation, the best solution is to call a licensed pest control professional. Having an expert inspect your home and recommend the appropriate treatment will be worth it, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Plus, keeping silverfish out of your home is an ongoing process, so they can help you come up with a long-term plan.
How to prevent silverfish infestations:
- Seal food in airtight containers. Keep dried goods like flour, cereal, and pet food in sealed containers, and regularly vacuum up any crumbs on the floor or that fall into crevices.
- Clear clutter indoors and out. Get those books and magazines on shelves and away from humid areas. Store other paper-based clutter in sealed containers. Keep your gutters clean to direct water away from the house. Remove any damp debris near your home’s exterior, like wood or dead plants.
- Keep storage in plastic bins, not cardboard boxes. Silverfish will tear into cardboard boxes, so make sure your belongings stay safe and secure in plastic storage bins instead.
- Run a dehumidifier in damp parts of the house. It’s also good to have a fan or vent in the bathroom, seal up leaking pipes, and air out closed rooms.
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