How to get rid of silverfish: two white powders and a bit of detective work

how to get rid of Silverfish

Silverfish are a pretty common problem and it's important to know why and how to get rid of them.  The bugs themselves cause no harm, but their presence indicates a serious humidity issue, which can itself cause a plethora of other issues. As I'm sure you know, silverfish are not a type of fish. They are a small, greyish insect of the family Lepisma, without wings, who have a sort of quick, slithery movement reminiscent of an eel or snake.  They are quite cute, but don't let that dissuade you from getting rid of them!

Silverfish actually originate from asiatic tropical locations, but have now become a common metropolitan species thanks to humidity control problems in homes.  Most people will notice them in their basements and bathrooms, which are the most common areas for leaks and the like.  They can pretty easily survive off of just the dust we produce, so starving them out or hiring spiders to kill them aren't really options.  I can give you some pretty good tips on how to do so, though, AND how to help ensure that they never come back and reinfest.

diatomaceous earth

Two White Powders 

To start, you can treat the infested areas with a mixture of boric acid powder and diatomaceous earth.  These are relatively easy to get and far better for you than a chemical pesticide treatment. You can find the boric acid at a pharmacy (often used for curing eye infections and other ailments), and the diatomaceous earth is usually sold at a hardware store (Insectigone or Insect Stop), you can check the ingredients.  Put on a dust mask and apply the mix under all baseboards, around holes in plumbing... everywhere you think the littlebuggers are hiding. Make sure to apply the powder inside the wall-- avoid leaving boric acid in places where it can be ingested by cats or dogs. Boric acid is very effective and much less toxic than other products used to kill pests, but it can be mildly toxic to cats and dogs. 

Make a homemade silverfish bait. Easy. Just grab a piece of cracker or bread and sprinkle boric acid on and around it. Leave the bait in several hidden places (out of reach of children and pets), especially in places where you have seen silverfish.

Some Detective Work

These will treat the infestation, but probably not permanently get rid of it.  You haven't repaired your humidity problem, and if you retain the humidity problem, the silverfish will simply return because your house is still a great environment for them.  SO...

Fix the humidity!!

Some quick tips to do so:

- Install a bathroom fan to suck the humidity out while you are showering or bathing, and make sure it vents OUTSIDE rather than into the same room or another room in your house - you'd just be redirecting the humidity and causing more issues!

- Install a dehumidifier.  These are great, especially if you live in an already-humid climate.  Anything to get a lower moisture content in the air will help. 

- Check around the shower for loose tiles or moldy/worn-out caulking and fix these.  Sometimes the best solution, especially if the house is very old and water-damaged, is to tear out your bathroom and re-tile it.  Mold and insect issues are no good for your health.  Or your sanity.

- If the room itself seems fine or sealed, you may need to start slowly moving toward the exterior of the house.  Moisture can easily be inside your walls while the interior of a room looks fine.  To start, check the caulking on the exterior of the windows.  This can easily be stripped and refreshed to prevent further water damage AND keep other insects out.

- And finally, check the exterior and landscaping around the house.  If the ground slopes toward your house, it is almost guaranteed that you'll have water leaking into your basement, or at least water damage from the water pooling at the base of your house!  This means your house was poorly landscaped in the first place and I would suggest a change as soon as possible.  Again, constant water damage like that can cause more than just various infestations.  Hire someone to help you fix it and install some rain gutters to move the water away from your house.  Every change you make will only be for the best.



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