How to stop a silverfish infestation!
What are silverfish?
If you're reading this article, you either know what silverfish are, or think that you have silverfish, but are not sure. To read the wikipedia article on silverfish, click here. Silverfish are curious creatures, that may not raise much concern the first time you see them. They are odd looking, have a strange travel pattern, but they struck me as being "harmless enough." That was my first impression, but as with many things in life, first impressions can be deceiving.
The first time I encountered a silverfish was late one night when I woke up needing to visit the bathroom. I turned on the light, and about halfway through "my transaction," I noticed a mysterious something moving along the wall. As soon as I finished my "business," I promptly took off my sandal, squashed the intruder and went back to bed. This scene continued to be played out two or three times a week for a few weeks. Eventually my wife even noticed, which prompted her to ask "have you noticed those things, what are they anyway?" To which I responded, "I only seem to see them every so often, they don't appear to be hurt anything." That was just prior to warm weather here in the midwest, and as the heat and the humidity rose, so did the appearance of our little pals. Once we began seeing them with increasing regularity, in multiple places, at different times, we realized that we were going to have to do something. We then did a little research online, and to our horror, our squatters were anything but harmless! Once we found out what a silverfish was, the next question is, what do they do?
Are silverfish destructive?
The short answer: yes! They eat everything1: coffee, sugar, carpet, clothing, hair, dead skin that has sloughed off, and the worst of all, they eat books! My wife and I love to read, and are gathering a respectable home library. This completely put my wife and I on "red alert." We knew we had to do something and quick! So, what did we do?
We did our homework.
First thing was first, we had to figure out more about these critters, and what to do to kill them, and keep more from showing up. After weighing all of the options, this is what we came up with, and it appears that it has worked very well.
- Boric Acid2: We promptly went to the dollar store and bought a jug of this (in powder form) at a very low price. I placed it: around the bottom of the kitchen cabinets, in the corners of all the rooms, around the bottom of the bathroom vanity, dusted the floor of the bathroom closet with it, and also took out the bottom drawer in the bathroom vanity and dusted it there. I also sprinkled some around the outside of our bookshelves, if they wanted our books, they were going to have to run the gauntlet to get them!
- We Cleaned: By no means are we dirty people, but we felt that our bathroom and kitchen needed more proactive attention. We were much more aware of dirty dishes in the kitchen, and crumbs that may have fallen beneath the table. In the bathroom we made it a point to clean much more often. Bathrooms may very easily become feeding grounds for silverfish, especially since they are usually dark, and humid. Silverfish thrive on hair and dead skin, as well as on paper products, so you can imagine how important a clean bathroom is when it comes to prevention.
- Climate Control: This may sound unusual, especially when living in a country with all of the modern conveniences. When I say "climate control," control is the operative term. First, we bought a dehumidifier. It was a bit costly ($159 + tax), but well worth the investment. It seems to keep our home much "fresher" feeling, as well as seeming to have almost immediately reduce the number of silverfish sightings. Second, we kept the windows closed, and operated the air conditioner when necessary. Third, when taking a shower, we try to remember to leave the exhaust fan on, to suck the steam out of the bathroom (my wife says that it makes her "cold" when she gets out of the shower, but I guess you can't have everything.)
Did it work?
The three steps that we implemented seemed to work very well. I do attribute the bulk of our success to the dehumidifier. Since the area we live in can become quite humid, as well as the humidity generated from taking a shower, it was an ideal environment for silverfish. Silverfish require a high level of humidity (generally between 75% to 95%)1 which is why indoor climate control seems to be a key factor.
Although all of the steps above attributed to the success of eliminating our infestation, we did receive at least one piece of confirmation on the climate control factor. A lone silverfish appeared one evening after my loving wife had left the A/C off all day, and the dehumidifier had kick off fairly early in the morning due to becoming full. Just one though, which isn't too tragic. I have found one silverfish in the garage (attached garage with one register vent) since implementing these steps. All and all though, it seems that our efforts have been a success.
I am not a pest professional, and the above information is only my personal experience.
- If you have children and/or pets, please be responsible when using any type of poison/pesticide. Always follow the instructions.
- If you have a persistent silverfish, or other pest issue, please contact a pest control professional.