Silverfish (Ctenolepisma lineata)

How To Get Rid Of Silverfish Bugs

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Written By: Mark Marino

a Massachusetts Core Applicator License holder and owner/operator of Lawn Phix,

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Silverfish bugs are some of the most unsettling creepy crawlies to find in your home. Although these pests aren’t known for their aggressive behaviors, ability to spread disease, or painful bites, they can still cause problems for home and business owners.

This article will explore some ways to identify silverfish near your home, as well as some methods to prevent or exterminate colonies before they grow too large.

Silverfish Identification

Often described as having a metallic appearance, the silverfish hails from the Latin family of Lepismatidae.

The best way to find silverfish in your home is to rely on these identification factors:

  • White, brown, gray, blue, or silver exoskeletons
  • Teardrop shaped bodies that are 12-19 millimeters long
  • Three ‘bristles’ extending from the rear of the pest

Silverfish are generally considered to be ‘wild’ pests, meaning that they usually live outdoors. In fact, silverfish require an extreme amount of moisture to survive, more than 70% according to conservative estimates. For this reason, they rarely stay inside dry or cool homes.

Silverfish don’t necessarily bite or attack humans, but their presence in the home could lead to a number of issues:

  • Allergies (sneezing, water eyes, mucus buildup, etc)
  • The consumption of stored food or paper
  • Destruction of wallpaper
  • Yellow stains

In order to understand how silverfish got into your home, it’s a good idea to be familiar with their unique lifecycle.

Silverfish Lifecycle

Silverfish live outdoors, hidden under leaf piles, rotting mulch, tree bark, and other yard debris. These damp or wet spaces provide silverfish with the ability to breed and thrive, as well as consume any present cellulose.

Female silverfish lay eggs daily or in 2 to 20 egg clusters, opting for a quiet, dark space. Once the silverfish have hatched (usually after 4 to 6 weeks), it will begin eating as much as possible to trigger its first molt. Silverfish eat just about anything, including the following food sources:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Paper
  • Household items like books
  • Food crumbs
  • Pet food
  • Tree bark
  • Other insects

Adult silverfish love feasting on the glue or paper compounds found in your home, including those stored in wastebaskets or recycling bins. These adults can live for over 8 years, and continuously lay eggs during that time.

If you think or know that your local silverfish populations are growing out of control, you will want to establish prevention measures right away.

How To Stop Silverfish

The best way to exterminate silverfish with chemical controls starts with a broad spectrum of treatments.


For a more targeted approach, Dekko Silverfish Packs could be a better solution. Arriving in a box of 24 packs, these pesticides are designed to use the silverfish’s eating patterns against themselves. The packs themselves attract silverfish with a strong scent, luring them to chew the casing and consume the interior product. Silverfish typically die within a few hours after ingesting the product, taking less than a month on average to control large populations.

Although there are many chemical methods of silverfish control available, there are some natural ways to eliminate them as well.

  • Sprinkle boric acid or diatomaceous earth around pest hotspots to kill silverfish adults. The bodies of the pest will be scraped with small shards, reducing their moisture levels and ultimately killing them.
  • Build a silverfish trap using tape and a glass jar. Simply place a starchy food in the middle of a jar wrapped in tape, and watch the pests pile in! Silverfish can find a foothold on the tape, but not the interior glass, trapping them for good.
  • Place sticky traps around potential silverfish hot spots, especially in humid or moist areas.
  • Bunch up some wet newspaper and throw it into the center of the silverfish hot spot. After a few days, when silverfish eggs have been laid and adults have found a new home, throw it away or burn it completely.

If you have not yet seen an uptick of silverfish activity in the home, you may have time to apply some prevention steps long before the population worsens.

How To Prevent Silverfish

There’s no way to completely kill all silverfish around your home. While these pests can be managed with professional pest control or over-the-counter products, silverfish cannot be destroyed like other household insects. Their population numbers, coupled with reproductive cycles, are simply immense. However, there are many things you can do today to keep these pests far away from your property.

Preventative measures against silverfish are best applied immediately after spotting the first pest.

  • Lower the relative humidity inside your home. Run a bathroom fan frequently to eliminate excess moisture. Purchase a dehumidifier for chronic spaces.
  • Spend time cleaning your home, looking for ways to remove dead insects, cardboard boxes, or other attractant factors.
  • Clear out harborage areas around your property. Rake leaf piles, stack firewood piles, and clean garden spaces that are a bit messy.

Interestingly, silverfish are very sensitive to strong smells, many of which are loved by humans.

  • Silverfish have been known to abhor the scent of citrus fruits. Choose your favorite oils (or even some squirts of lemon juice) for use in a spray bottle, where the oils can be applied to cracks and gaps on a daily basis.
  • Do what you can to put cedar oil near the splits and gaps of your house.
  • Apply bay leaves to the insides of cabinets and drawers.
  • Place cinnamon sticks near sealed containers of dog food to repel any scouting silverfish.

The proper storage of food and trash is also important for silverfish prevention.

  • Store food in a sealed container or glass jar to prevent silverfish from getting inside.
  • Check your kitchen cabinets for any inadvertent food source (i.e. crumbs).

Silverfish Infestation FAQs

Prevent silverfish from infesting your home or business by reading up on these frequently asked questions.

What causes silverfish infestations in your home?

A silverfish infestation usually begins with excessive moisture inside the home. Cracks and gaps will allow silverfish to creep into wall voids and dark areas, where they will quickly begin laying eggs. Silverfish seek out moist areas and damp places to overwinter, which could be anywhere in your home. Damp basements, laundry rooms, and water under the bathroom sink could attract these pests in droves, while leaky pipes and drains could become microhabitats.

Is it bad to have silverfish pest problems?

Silverfish are nocturnal insects that are classified as nuisance pests. In other words, these pests are unable to directly harm humans, pets, or households. Truthfully, there are really no negative implications of a silverfish problem in the home. Do what you can to control silverfish naturally, removing attractant factors around the lawn and garden. If you can’t sleep at night with these pests in your home, opt for professional silverfish removal from a local pest control company.

Can you ever get rid of silverfish?

Do what you can to repel silverfish with home remedies or stronger chemicals that prevent the pests from infesting hidden areas. Prevention steps can keep you from attracting silverfish, while professional pest control can remove established infestations within a few treatments. Use citrus fruits to repel scouting pests, scatter cedar shavings in suspect areas, and regularly vacuum cracks to eliminate building infestations.

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Author's Note: this piece has been updated for accuracy since its first publication on
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Author: Mark Marino
My name is Mark Marino, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Lawn Phix. With a passion for lawn care and turf nutrition for over a decade, I've dedicated countless hours to correcting soil and perfecting lawns. Today, my expertise, backed by formal courses at UMass Extension Pesticide Education, allows me to offer top-tier lawn care services and advice. I am a fully licensed and insured lawn care applicator in Massachusetts, specializing in comprehensive turf nutrition, weed control, and lawn pest control. My license number is AL-0053865. Contact me at [email protected] or +1 (508) 500-8402.

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