Whether it's poisonous or not, seeing an insect in your home might be enough to send you straight to your local home improvement store looking for a remedy. Although you may be tempted to buy any and every chemical or trap that's marketed to get rid of silverfish, it's better to contact a local pest control professional, especially if you have a silverfish infestation in your home.
What Are Silverfish?
According to Orkin, silverfish, from the family Lepismatidae, are white to brown-gray or bluish-silver, teardrop-shaped, 12 to 19 millimeters in length and have three long bristles on their rear. Silverfish can live in most climates, but they thrive in dark, damp areas. You'll often find them in basements, attics, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, sheds, or even in paper and damp clothing.
Although many people think silverfish live in drains, they don't, according to Terminix. Since silverfish can't climb on smooth vertical surfaces, you'll find them trapped in bathtubs and bathroom sinks, but they're not coming from your shower or sink drain.
Orkin explains that silverfish are a nuisance because of their destructive eating habits. They tend to feed on carbohydrates, particularly starches and sugars. But you'll also find them feeding on cellulose, shampoos, glue in books, linen, silk and even dead insects. You can also find them in unopened food packages.
Typical Silverfish Problems
Although silverfish look harmless, they can cause some problems if you have an infestation. Silverfish don't transmit diseases and aren't poisonous, but they can trigger allergies in people because, according to Terminix, they shed their skin. Silverfish can also attract other pests such as carpet beetles.
Last, silverfish can cause damage to items in your home. They can eat large grains and chew holes in your clothing, upholstery and paper. If you get a significant infestation, they can cause damage to your home.
How to Prevent Silverfish
Prevention is vital when it comes to silverfish. Orkin says they're nocturnal and move super quickly, so it can be a while before you notice an infestation, especially since they reproduce relatively quickly. Since silverfish love moisture and nymphs develop in humid areas, the best way to prevent an infestation is to control your space's humidity.
Try to open any vents in your crawl space, use baseboards with caulking and maintain your housekeeping practices, especially since silverfish love to consume a variety of foods. Keeping your house clean will limit infestation and silverfish feeding sites.
Getting Rid of Silverfish
According to Orkin, if you don't have an infestation, you can put cinnamon in your humid areas because it will repel silverfish. If you already have an infestation, you'll have to hire a professional to rectify the situation. You may be tempted to buy traps or insecticides sold in stores, but this will only kill the insects. Unfortunately, most do-it-yourself remedies or store-bought traps won't target your infestation issues.
Orkin explains that the store-bought traps won't prevent silverfish from reinfesting your home. Professionals can treat your home to kill both the adult silverfish and their eggs. Keeping silverfish out of your home requires a long-term treatment plan, and if you hire a local pest control expert, they'll be able to continually treat your home to get rid of and hinder any future infestations.