All that glitters is not gold, and all that’s silver is not shiny and pretty—silverfish included. If you aren’t familiar with this bug, consider yourself lucky. I, on the other hand, had an encounter with a silverfish just last week. To calm down and clean up post-panic, I consulted the internet to find out how to get rid of them and was surprised to learn they’re actually pretty common. (I also quickly learned that the internet isn’t the best anti-anxiety coach, as it will often encourage you to think your home is crawling with venomous, killer insects.)
What Are Silverfish?
Silverfish are small, wingless insects who are silvery or light grey in color. They're nocturnal creatures commonly found in Africa, the Americas, Australia, Eurasia, and parts of the Pacific.
If you, too, have come across silverfish in your living space, we can assure you that the situation is controllable. If you have yet to confront these creepy crawlers in your home, I’m truly happy for you, really. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared, since silverfish like to get you when you least expect it. And in the spirit of being a good samaritan, I’ve also taken it upon myself to include prevention tips and basic facts so you can avoid them at all costs. Read on to keep your home free of silverfish!
1. Despite how scary they may look, stay brave if you see a silverfish. According to pest control service and research institute Orkin, silverfish don’t bite, nor do they carry any harmful diseases.
2. Silverfish are about 1.5 centimeters long, which is quite tiny but not microscopic. This can prove a blessing when you spot them with the naked eye because they’re easier to dispose of by hand.
3. Silverfish are nocturnal—so if you weren’t creeped out by the dark before, you might be now (welcome to the team).
4. Unlike bigger infestations that require you to spray nasty pesticides and temporarily move out of your home, silverfish do not cause any damage. Plus, they can actually be caught with a simple homemade silverfish trap: Wrap a mason jar in masking tape and place a piece of bread inside. Before you go to bed (aka silverfish’s active hours), lay the trap wherever you’ve seen them in your home. They’ll crawl in on the tape, but the glass inside will be too slippery for them to escape.
1. Silverfish love humid environments, so keeping a standing dehumidifier around can be a great way to keep them away in rooms like the bedroom or living area. However, damp areas like your bathroom deserve a high-quality fan, so invest in the proper wall or ceiling installation there.
2. To keep silverfish (and rodents) out of your cooking area, you should store your sugars and starches in sealed containers.
Another good rule of thumb is to wipe down your kitchen surfaces daily.
3. Vacuum thoroughly and often. Silverfish lay eggs in carpeted areas (gross, but easy to prevent), so even if you haven’t spotted any around your pad recently or if you’ve gotten rid of the ones you did see, this is a smart course of action. Besides, you should be keeping your home neat and hygienic with the best cleaning hacks, silverfish or none.
4. I have quite a few cardboard boxes by my front door, but I’ve learned this could have saved me a mess of trouble. Silverfish love old newspapers and cardboard, so get rid of those items as soon as you can. You can follow this guide to make tidying up as easy as possible.
Robinson WH. Urban Insects and Arachnids: A Handbook of Urban Entomology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2005.
Can Silverfish Bite or Sting? Orkin.