The silverfish insect or fishmoth, is a pest commonly seen in Africa, America, Australia, Eurasia, and Pacific households. While it is not directly harmful to humans, it can destroy books, clothes, and furniture in buildings. And once the numbers of these bugs get out of control into an infestation, it can cause germs to spread, which can be dangerous especially in a hospital or a restaurant.
From its name, the silverfish insect has a silver-grey colour and a fish-like appearance on the small scale. These are nocturnal insects that avoid light and have carbohydrates such as sugar and starch as their main diet. While they don’t have wings, a silverfish bug has instead a long antennae and fast limbs, which can outrun larger predators that eat them such as centipedes.
Just like other insects, silverfish bugs reproduce in batches with a female silverfish laying less than 60 eggs at a time. And once these nymphs hatch, it may take from three months up to three years for one to become a full adult. Silverfish infestation in households can easily start from a single pair of male and female silverfish.
Silverfish usually hide in dark and humid places such as kitchen cupboards, where they can also get food from unsealed dried food packages. You can spot signs of their presence from their waste droppings in wallpaper and their urine spots on clothes.
To get rid of silverfish bugs, it is more advisable to contact a professional rather than doing it yourself. Especially in the case of an infestation, pest management professionals can use the appropriate insecticides and countermeasures to prevent silverfish bugs from coming back.
But if you are saving on money, or your silverfish infestation has not yet reached critical status, you can try these do it yourself steps to deal with silverfish bugs.
The first step is to clean your house of trash or any materials in the storage that you don’t have a use for. Old magazines, paper bags, even cardboard boxes made of starch are prime food materials for a silverfish. Clean out your storage room once in a while to also get rid of other bugs and insects that may live in there.
Instead of keeping previously opened food packages in a cardboard box, consider keeping them in air tight containers such as jars or Tupperware. While this measure keeps silverfish from eating your food, it can also protect it from spoilage and other food contaminants in the air.
The second step is to actively catch these bugs by setting traps. You can buy sticky traps in hardware stores, or try your hand at creating your own traps. One example is the old food in the jar tactic that is effective for some insects.
For this DIY trap, you need to wrap a glass jar with masking tape and then place a piece of food inside the glass jar. The masking tape gives the insects the footholds it needs to climb, as compared to the smooth outside surface of the jar where they are most likely to fall off. Meanwhile, the food inside the jar serves as a lure for the bugs to eat.
Just wait for the bugs to fall in, and then dispose of them at your own time. In the making of the trap, make sure to pick the right glass jar which is not too big or not too small depending on the type of bug you want to catch. For the silverfish bug, a medium sized jar will work since a regular silverfish only reaches up to half an inch.
The third step is to try chemicals or organic substances that directly get rid of silverfish bugs by killing them off. A safe option for this step is Diatomaceous Earth or DE for short. This powder is made from siliceous sedimentary rock and is used in toothpaste, insecticides, and for filtration purposes.
For insecticides, DE is added with additives for more effective pest control, but in the case of silverfish infestation, using the powder is enough. DE powder works by damaging the outer layer of the body of insects, resulting in the loss of stored water inside the insects, leading to dehydration.
Most importantly, DE is safe for humans and pets. This means that you can just sprinkle this powder in the dark areas of your home without worrying for hazardous consequences on your children or pets.
The fourth step is to vacuum every part of your house to get rid of stray crumbs or foodstuffs laying around that you may have missed during cleaning. Besides the floor, take the time to thoroughly vacuum baseboards and furnishes in your home. Vacuuming also deals with silverfish eggs hidden around the house that may start another round of infestation.
To prevent a silverfish infestation once again, you can use everyday household items to make sure that they won’t come back. Silverfish bugs have an aversion to the smell of citrus, cinnamon, or lavender. Try adding these essential oils to your cleaners or just spray it in areas where you think silverfish might live in.
Not only does this countermeasure prevent bug infestation, it also leaves your home smelling fresh and clean at all times. Note that the smell does not directly get rid of silverfish bugs, it only prevents them from coming back to live in your place.
You can also use spices to keep silverfish away. Just put a small amount inside a sachet or tea bag, and keep it hidden away in dark and humid areas where silverfish are likely to stay in.
After a thorough cleaning sweep of the building, damp and humid areas need to be regularly checked to prevent silverfish from returning. Installing dehumidifiers or fans can also reduce the likelihood of these pests living in any area. Everyday dusting of the furniture and tight sealing of opened packages can also go a long way in preventing an infestation.Calling in the professionals may help save you money in the long run. Professionals have the right tools, right knowledge, much experience. They may also advice or suggest methods that may be a long term solution.