7 fast ways to get rid of & kill silverfish bugs once and for all

Finding insects crawling in your home can be stressful. What makes it worse is finding that there is an unknown full-blown infestation right under your eyes. Silver bugs can multiply in numbers without getting noticed for a long time due to their discrete nature. They are known to come out at night in darkness after lights have been switched off.

Getting rid of the bugs is quite easy, and the idea of carrying out such a task should not worry you. We will give you ways of clearing the insects from your home once and for all. There is also a detailed procedure on what to do to avoid silverfish attacks in your home later. We’ll explain how to kill and get rid of silverfish bugs once and for all. You’ll need to figure out where they reside.

As you can see, Spectracide has been formulated to kill silverfish. It’s a product we absolutely love. It’d even be easier to see if my hand was calmer while taking the photo!

What are silverfish

They are nocturnal insects that are cigar-shaped, with long antennas. They have no wings, and they’re silver in color. Mature adults have an average length of about 1 inch. Their backs are almost flat, looking like centipedes. The main difference is that they have only 6 six legs. Silverfish have 3 long bristles that protrude from their backs and compound eyes, unlike some bugs with no eyes.

It is a slimy-looking bug that derives its name from its silver color and movement because it moves like a fish. Scientifically it belongs to the family Lepismatidae. Its scientific name is Lepisma Saccharina. It is derived from its feeding habits since it mostly feeds on Polysaccharides, starch and cellulose.

Silverfish thrive best in cool climates but can survive under any condition. It’s a feature that has helped them survive for millions of years without becoming extinct. According to studies on their remains, they have been on earth from as early as when dinosaurs were living till today. They have been around longer than humankind.

They like living in dark areas, such as crevices and cracks where they can hide to avoid detection. This feature increases their chances of survival. They are usually found in damp areas such as bathrooms, where it is damp and doesn’t dry out very well. If your house is not well cleaned with your clothes neatly arranged, the insects may find a way of hiding in the stack of clothes.

silverfish on dark background

Bugs that look like silverfish

They are a unique species of insects that are hard to find others that resemble them. However, there are a few insects that look like them. Their look-alikes are:

  • firebrats
  • bristletails
  • earwigs
  • centipedes
  • and woodlice

Despite their easily distinguished appearance, you can easily confuse silverfish with the abovementioned bugs. Some of the characteristics of the identical insects are:

Firebrats

Firebrats and silverfish belong to the same order, Zyngentoma. It’s the reason for their similarity in appearance. They can’t fly because they are wingless. They have flattened backs and move fast. They are nocturnal insects, feeding mainly at night in the darkness.

Their color is slightly different from that of silverfish. Firebrats have a deeper brown and silver color, like their sister species. Another contrasting characteristic is that silverfish thrive in warmer environments and are mainly found near boilers and furnaces.

Jumping bristletails

Bristletails belong to an insect order known as Archaeognatha. It shares some characteristics with Zygentoma and is the nearest order in the Zygentoma family. Jumping Bristletails are scaled with no ability to fly due to their lack of wings. They have a pair of long antennae with thin bristles. They are gray, not silver and round. Silverfish are flat and round.

They are outdoor creatures that rarely get in the houses. When disturbed, they don’t run away but jump. Their difference in defense mechanism is the main distinguishing factor between the two bugs.

Earwig

There is a huge difference between earwigs and silverfish. They can easily confuse the untrained eye, especially from far. They are brown with a redhead and pale legs and the same length as the house centipedes. They have a pair of pincers at the back, not the three bristles like the other bugs.

They are mainly outdoor insects but occasionally find their way to houses. If you notice their presence in your house, relax and find the best way to exterminate them since they are not dangerous. They cannot harm you. They invade people’s houses mainly in summer to look for cooler environments.

They feed on plants and dead insects. The myth that they crawl into people’s ears when asleep is not true.

Centipedes

It is hard to confuse silverfish for centipedes when looked at closely and keenly. From far, there are a few similarities that make people like the two. For instance, save for the many legs that centipedes have as many as 30. They have similar body structures and characteristics. Centipedes feed on insects.

two silverfish bugs

Life cycle

They have a life cycle that slightly differs from most insects, known as the hemimetabolous life cycle. They undergo only 3 development stages: egg, nymph, and adults. The difference between adults and nymphs is mainly the size. They don’t undergo the larvae stage. There is no major change in the form of the insect as it grows. They are said to have ametabolous metamorphosis. It means there is no big change in the life cycle with the nymphs and adults looking alike.

Eggs

Eggs take about 19- 60 days to hatch from the day they are laid. It depends on the conditions of the environment. The eggs take a shorter time to hatch in humid conditions, but they also survive in any other environment.

The female lay only 3 eggs per day, laying a maximum of an average of only 100 eggs in their lifetime. The number of eggs laid depends on the bugs’ environment. The optimal eggs temperature range is between 22 and 32 degrees Celsius.

Their eggs are mainly laid in cracks where it is hard to find them, and they could be laid in hiding before hatching.

Nymph

This is the second stage which comes in immediately when the egg hatches. They look like adults, but they are very small. They’re shorter and whitish. They molt about 6-7 times when in this stage before becoming full adults.

Adults

They take around 3-4 months before becoming full adults under optimal conditions. They sometimes take up to 24 months before reaching full maturity in cooler climates. An adult length is approximately an inch long. They still molt several times in maturity and may live between 2 to 8 years. They only live 2 years if they are in harsh conditions.

Reproduction.

Like other living things, they have a means through which they reproduce to ensure the continuity of their species. How they breed might be different from other bugs but still serves the purpose.

How they breed

They don’t have direct fertilization but rather dance as the breeding occurs. The dance takes between 30 minutes to one hour for the whole process to occur until it ends.

In the beginning, the male touches the antennae. The female flees, and the male catches up with it. They reunite and stand side by side while their tails vibrate. The male makes deposits of sperm into female ovipositors in sperm packets which will fertilize the eggs.

Do they spread rapidly?

Silverfish don’t spread as rapidly as other insects due to the low number of eggs they lay in their lifetime. Their maturity process is also slow, slowing down the process more. It makes it harder for a rapid spread. Thus, it takes a long time for a large infestation to occur. It is good to note that it occurs because they are hard to notice. A small number can still cause huge damage to your house.

What attracts them

They are mostly attracted by moist and dark areas that remain unseen for longer periods. Once silverfish find a dark spot, they rarely move in search of another area.

They mostly hide under bathroom mats in houses because they serve both purposes. Beneath them, it’s both damp and dark. Under such conditions, they thrive. That’s where they have the best chance to breed and increase in number.

They mostly feed at night when they remain unnoticed. They feed on food that remains, especially starch. If left on tables or plates, you might find them feeding on it. Dispose of the food so they cannot get to it.

silverfish

FAQ

What are silverfish a sign of?

Humid conditions. Unlike ordinary insects, you must start looking into what could have attracted them once you see them in your house. They rarely make their way into places not conducive to their survival. If they move into an unconducive environment by any chance, they will migrate shortly after.

Once you notice silverfish in your house first, you should look into cracks and crevices that have been left unnoticed. The house could have cracks that they could have used to gain entry inside. They breed in the crevices, so it is important to ensure that they are all sealed in a bid to deal with the bugs.

Silverfish could also indicate leaky pipes that have remained unnoticed. They are probably not in a position where they can easily be noticed. When noticing the presence of leaking pipes, silverfish will live around the pipe since they thrive best under humid conditions. Once you notice silverfish, you can look into your piping system to check whether they are leaking.

If not noticed and controlled early, their presence could also be a sign of great damage to the house. This is mostly because they can feed on anything. They chew books and furniture. By the time you notice their presence, they may have done substantial damage.

They rarely stay in dry places. Once you notice them, there is a high moisture content in your house. You could be leaving your bathroom wet after use, or the house is humid.

They also thrive in unhygienic conditions where the house is poorly arranged with clothes scattered everywhere.

Are silverfish harmful?

Despite their scary look, the bugs are not harmful to human beings directly. They do not spread any diseases to people. They inhabit the house to survive nothing more. Once you notice them in your house, don’t freak out thinking that they could infect you with disease because they don’t.

However, their presence in the house may mean damage to the house and your property. They damage the house by boring holes in the walls while hiding. They destroy clothes and furniture by feeding on them and leaving small holes in what they have eaten. If left uncontrolled, they can lead to huge damage.

Do LED lights attract silverfish?

With the changing trends and ever-evolving technology, LED lights have started being preferred over traditional incandescent bulbs. The LEDs are brighter and consume less energy, resulting in a lower electricity bill. With the global efforts geared towards developing energy-efficient products, LED light is set to increase.

Silverfish are nocturnal and thus cannot be attracted to LEDs since they move in darkness to avoid detection. Their chances of survival are merely based on how discreet they are infesting your house.

It is interesting to note that they are not attracted to LEDs. LEDs attract more insects than traditional incandescent bulbs. With LEDs in your home, you are more likely to find insects hovering around the bulb.

What do silverfish eat?

Silverfish feed mostly on foods that people eat. In most instances, they feed on table trash at night once you have gone to sleep. They might also crawl to the trash can to search for food. They mostly feed on foods that are sugary or have carbohydrates. They are generally known for feeding on cellulose and carbohydrates.

When they infest your home, they feed on the table. They’ll get to the trash and other things such as books and furniture. Leather and cereals are not off the table if not properly covered after use. They feed on nearly anything, but their love for paper comes from the cellulose that comes with it and the binding glue.

They also feed on pictures made by curators. If you’re not careful, they might suffer great damage due to their feeding. They also feed on clothes, so you may have to ensure that they are all dead whenever you spray them.

Silverfish that live outdoors feed on exoskeleton and leaves.

Silverfish traps

Some traps have been designed to catch the crawling bugs in your house. They are simple cardboard with glue applied on the top side to get stuck when moving on them. You can add bait to attract them to the trap.

Silverfish poison and bait

Silverfish poison is mostly boric acid mixed with some water and flour. Once they get into contact with the insect, they dissolve the exoskeleton. The flour will act as bait due to their love for starch. It is usually placed on top of sticky cards.

spectracide bug stop against silverfish

How to Get Rid of & Kill Silverfish, & Steps to Take

  1. Find the source

    The first step towards eliminating them from your house is finding where they are hiding or laying their eggs. You could notice them in the bathroom, but they stay in the garage or kitchen. You need to find their habitat in your home.

    Knowing where they are hiding lets you plan how best to deal with them early enough.

  2. Change the conditions

    Once you know where they have pitched a tent, the second step is to ensure unfavorable conditions. Making conditions unfavorable for their stay inhabitable might drive them away.
    Some of the things that need to be done include cleaning the bathroom every use. Always ensure that there are no damp clothes in the house. Whenever possible, ensure they are hung outside.

    Ensure proper aeration in the infested room and buy a dehumidifier to clear any excess moisture in the air.

  3. Use natural methods for getting rid of silverfish.

    You can use either the newspaper method or the jar method.

  4. Use chemical solutions.

    Bleach and Pyrethrin are some of the products you can use. Check out our article for further instructions.

  5. Call the pros.

    If the steps mentioned above haven’t successfully gotten rid of the silverfish, call the pros.

Natural methods

Newspaper method

Using old newspapers is a natural method that relies on locally available materials and is highly efficient. You can roll a newspaper, moisten it and block it on one end. It leaves only one entrance with no exit. When doing this, you can dispose of the newspaper every 24hrs. Replace it with another till you are comfortable with the results.

The newspaper is just like any other trap. It should be placed on the established paths of the insects to trap as many as possible.

silverfish bug

Jar method

Take an empty jar and put some bread crumbs or leftover starch in it—tape on the outer side of the jar. The house centipedes and silverfish will develop an interest in the starch in the jar and climb up the jar. Once inside, they can’t move out again. You can repeat the procedure for several days till you get comfortable that you have trapped the bugs.

Cinnamon can repel silverfish that have been left unnoticed. It is important to note that these methods may not be sufficiently effective for high-level infestations.

Chemical products

For high-level infestations, you should employ chemical products to deal with them once and for all. The chemicals can easily be found in a store near you at affordable rates.

Bleach

The normal washing bleach can be poured into drains suspected to house them. Use it where they are believed to be or in a place used as a breeding site. You can pour the bleach at night and leave it there overnight to be more effective.

Diatomaceous earth insecticide

This is one of the most popular and powerful insecticides on the market. It is made of plankton remains believed to have existed millions of years ago. It can kill many types of insects, hence its popularity. Any type of diatomaceous earth can be used to kill silverfish. Its working principle is based on killing insects by drying their exoskeleton.

Bug stop

Pyrethrin

A very effective liquid spray should be sprayed where the silverfish are suspected of living. When spraying, the house should be left for a few hours. If you can, stay somewhere else overnight. Follow the instructions to make sure it is safe for use again. It is highly poisonous. When spraying, you should first remove kids’ stuff from a place that can be contaminated. Safeguard any food in the house to avoid contamination.

Contact professionals

Suppose you cannot eradicate them or even find where they hide fully. You could contact professionals who have the manpower and skills to find their breeding spots. The pros rarely miss a spot where these destructive insects are hiding.

Professionals are preferred because they save the client a lot of time that could have been spent looking for the silverfish. As a client, they will advise you what to do to avoid future infestations. They also know what method they will use according to the degree of infestation with the pros.

If unable to clear all silverfish, contact professionals. They have the manpower and skills to detect any possible crevice and crack that could harbor the insects. With their experience, hardly do they ever miss a spot.

How to prevent future infestation

A few things can be done to avoid future infestation by insects. They include:

Cleanliness

Always ensure that your house is well-cleaned and vacuumed regularly. It helps clear their eggs by sucking them from the walls. Dispose of all leftover foods properly to ensure that they don’t infest the house looking for the food.

Dry

Make sure that your home is well dried without anything damp. Dry any spills so that the house remains dry at all times. The bathroom will also need to be cleaned and dried after use and be well aerated to avoid infestations.

If possible, you can open all the windows for aeration and buy a dehumidifier. It will also help with condensation.

Silica gel

Silica gel is readily available and usually packed in new shoes. It is used to absorb moisture from the environment. If it is to be used, care must be taken because it is toxic. Take measures to prevent children from getting to it.

Seal cracks

Cracks on the wall can be used by silverfish to gain entry into the house. They should be sealed to avoid future access. Cracks are also used as breeding grounds. Their elimination helps reduce their chances of multiplication.

Food well covered

Any foods in the house should be well covered to avoid infestations by providing food for the insects. Hygienically, it is also wrong to leave food uncovered and eat it later if ants are possibly eating from it.

Seal any leaking pipe

You reduce the chances of future infestations by a huge margin by sealing leaking pipes. Leaking pipes give a conducive environment for the growth and breeding of silverfish.

Clear clutter

Ensure that your house is well organized without any clothes or paper littered in the house. By maintaining a well-organized house, they rarely get spaces to hide.

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