How to Kill Silverfish in Pipes & Drains

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Because silverfish are frequently spotted in bathtubs and sinks, many people believe that the problem they're facing is with silverfish coming out of drains in their home. This assumption is incorrect, however. Although silverfish like damp spaces, drains and pipes are a bit too wet for their taste. So why are they in the bathtub?


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A silverfish that falls off of a wall or shower curtain and lands in a tub or sink is unable to get itself back out because they cannot climb smooth, vertical surfaces. This is why you'll find silverfish near your drains, even though they don't live inside your plumbing. This makes treating your pipes and drains a waste of time, but there are other ways to solve a silverfish problem.


Why Silverfish Are a Problem

Unexpectedly finding silverfish in sink drains in your home can scare you. But silverfish are completely benign and won't cause you any harm. They don't bite or carry disease.

Those who take a live-and-let-live approach to pest control may wonder why eliminating them is necessary. The answer is simple: although they aren't harmful, silverfish can cause damage in your home. Silverfish love carbohydrates and protein, so they sometimes make their way into cereal, flour and other food in your pantry. They'll also eat clothing, upholstered furniture, books, wallpaper glue and paperwork.


Getting Rid of Silverfish

The first step in getting rid of silverfish is to eliminate the things that attract them. Seal cereals, flour and other foods inside airtight jars to keep silverfish out. Fix any leaks and damp spots in your home to deny the insects water. If you're storing old clothing, papers or cardboard boxes, do your best to clean house and get rid of as much clutter as possible.


To remove your unwanted houseguests, apply an insecticidal spray or powder in cracks and crevices where you've seen silverfish. As always, remember to use any pesticides only according to the instructions on the product label and make sure that children and pets can't reach them. Diatomaceous earth and pyrethrin are both natural pesticides considered to be fairly safe, but you should still exercise caution when using them.


To prevent future surprise houseguests, use caulk or expanding foam to seal any cracks around windows and doors. Remember to seal areas where pipes and electrical wires come into your home as well.

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It's a Trap

Because they work by capturing one individual at a time, traps simply aren't an effective way to solve a silverfish problem. They can, however, help you monitor one. If you're trying to get rid of silverfish, an empty trap may indicate success while a full trap means you must keep working.


To make your own silverfish trap, place a cracker or other starchy food at the bottom of a glass jar. Cover the outside of the jar with masking tape so the silverfish can climb in. Once inside, the smooth surface of the jar will keep them trapped, just like silverfish in sink drains after a fall.

You can also make your own sticky traps. To do so, mix together flour, water and boric acid to make a paste. Spread the paste onto index cards and place them in areas where you've seen silverfish.


Silverfish and Vinegar?

As long as you do so safely, there is nothing wrong with taking a do-it-yourself approach to silverfish control. It's important, though, that you get your pest control advice from reliable sources. The internet seems to think vinegar fixes just about every household problem, and that cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves will all repel silverfish. Unfortunately, none of these home remedies will get rid of silverfish.

Silverfish are bashful creatures, so you definitely have a problem if you're seeing a lot of them. A big problem means you need a professional exterminator. Over-the-counter and home remedies can offer temporary relief, but most simply don't address silverfish eggs. If you don't kill silverfish at every stage of their life cycle, you'll never get rid of an infestation.

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