If Silverfish are unwelcome guests in your home and you don’t want to try and nuke them by spreading dangerous chemicals and toxins around your house then you are going to have to learn natural methods of elimination and prevention.
In truth learning the natural methods that will keep silverfish away is the only way you are going to prevent re-infestation. Unless you find and remove the reasons why they like your house in the first place they might well come back.
I detail a number of the chemical free techniques and products you can use below but covering everything isn’t really possible in one article.
The most comprehensive information about getting rid of silverfish naturally has been compiled by Bob Haskins in his ebook – Get Rid of Silverfish. This book covers pretty much everything you will need to know.
Natural Techniques for Dealing with these Pesky Creatures
One of the best way to keep silverfish away is to maintain the cleanliness of your house at all times.
- Don’t leave food lying around, especially anything with starch in it.
- Clean any infested areas thoroughly, then clean them again
- When you hoover, make sure you get behind your skirting boards
- Don’t skip on the sweeping and mopping
Reduce Potential Food Sources
- Get used to keeping your foods in sealed containers
- They love cereal, make sure your silverfish can’t get at them
- Whilst you’re at it make sure all of your cupboards are sealed securely
- Store old books, papers and starched linens in sealed plastic containers
- In fact, if at all possible don’t store things in cardboard boxes – use sealed plastic containers
- They like mold – don’t have any in your house
- If you can live without wallpaper – then do. They absolutely love the glue keeping it on your wall
Sorting out your damp and humid places is particularly important to control the reproduction and nesting of silverfish – without moisture they cannot survive. Dry out any areas that have been infected thoroughly and then pay close attention to all of the usual suspects: -
- Your bathroom
- Beneath the kitchen sink
- Between book covers
- Gas ranges
- Laundry rooms
You have to remove their sources of water and moisture: –
- If you have leaky pipes or faucets then get them fixed
- Get some decent ventilation going on where water vapor accumulates
- Don’t forget about your attic and basements. Lay plastic over dirt floors and fix any roof leaks
- Get exhaust fans installed in your bathroom
- If it is going to help and if you can afford it make use of dehumidifiers and fans
- Get a decent shower curtain that doesn’t let the water escape
- Get some air circulation going by opening doors and windows
- Don’t have too many house plants
Hit Them With Herbs
Another great way to get rid of your silverfish naturally is to use herbs. Herbs are a natural and preventive control for these arthropods that are worth considering. They do not cost a lot and a lot of people have great success with them.
It would seem that silverfish have quite the sensitive sense of smell and so there are lots of herbs that they run away from. Leave any of these in areas where you have seen silverfish or you suspect they may be setting up residence and they will soon vacate the area. Make all of their favorite cubby holes in your home smell bad and they may just decide to vacate your house all together.
- Fresh Rosemary. Replace in silverfish prone areas about once a month
- Sweet Mary (also known as costmary sprigs or bible leaf)
- Whole Cloves. Almost everybody agrees that this one does the trick
- A lot of people tell me that Lavender is a winner. Using this scent in your bath and shower products has been known to drive them out of bathrooms.
- Eucalyptus oils, great for keeping the bugs away from your clothes
- I have known people to have success by sprinkling regular table salt around their baseboards and drainpipes, crevices and cracks
- Bay Leaves
A top tip for less mess is to combine a number of these herbs above and place them inside empty teabags.
Fight Them with Fruits and Vegetables
Cucumber peels are another thing that these household pests hate the smell off. For silverfish the peel appears to have a particularly strong smell so cucumbers are very effective at repelling them.
They also seem to find the smell of citrus repugnant which is bad for them and great for you. You can make up your own sprays and experiment or you can buy a commercial product that is already known to be highly effective.
Orange Guard is probably the best known and it works an absolute treat. It is made from orange peel extract (d-Limonene) and is classed as a natural insecticide. It is safe to be used around people, pets and food. Silverfish, and indeed most other insects, hate it. It is no coincidence that every orange you have ever had does not look as though something has ever bitten into it.
This stuff is pretty incredible and it is an effective natural insecticide. To us humans it just feels like a fine soft powder, somewhat akin to talcum powder. At the insect level though it is a very different story. To them this lethal dust is full of razor sharp microscopic edges. When a silverfish walks over the stuff it cuts their soft exoskeleton. As an extra measure the powdery content then sucks in body fluids causing dehydration and ultimately death.
You simply need to sprinkle it in infested areas. It will likely kill anything it lands on but it will also repel the silverfish from the area once they know it is there. The more you use the stuff the more your house becomes inhospitable to these bugs and the more chance you have of them shipping out and not coming back.
You can get Diatomaceous Earth in the usual home and hardware stores or you can get it online at Amazon
What this stuff actually is are the tiny fossilized skeletal remains of tiny water plants called diatoms. It is safe to use around you home, you can even put it on your pets if they have fleas, but the dust can irritate your throat so it is advisable that you wear a mask when you are spreading it around.
Temperature and Light Control
The preferred temperature for Silverfish is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They are quite fussy so when the conditions are not right they will look to move to another location. If you can manage it then either drop or raise the temperature above or below these until the silverfish decide that they have had enough.
Silverfish prefer the dark, if you have gone to the bathroom in the night and switched on the light only to watch them all scurry away then you’ll know what I mean. Don’t therefore switch your light off. If they start to think they are never going to get their lovely darkness back then they will decide to move on.
If you want to catch them so you can get rid of them then there are a few different types of traps that you can try.
You can buy poison traps but if you don’t want to go that route then two popular natural trap methods are
You can lay a trap using starchy foods as bait. Placing a few of these around your house in key locations is going to help to gather up quite a lot of the little critters
- Clean an old jar exhaustively and cover the outer portion with masking tape to make it easier for the silverfish to climb up.
- Leave the cap open and put inside starchy food stuffs so the insects will be able to fall in but not be capable of climbing out.
Once you have them trapped you then have to make sure they are not going to be a problem in your house. You can drone them with soap water, throw them outside or blindfold them and drive them a good distance from your house before letting them go and telling them never to return.
A variation on these baited silverfish traps is to lure them onto a gummy surface that they get stuck to.
This is very effective but less popular – probably because you have to pick the paper up, silverfish can move pretty quick when they want to.
- Wet a newspaper. Make sure it is damp and not soaking.
- Roll it up and then use either elastic or string to keep the shape
- Place it in an infested area at night time
- In the morning the paper will be full of silverfish
- Drop it in the trash or if you are felling particularly malevolent towards you bugs then you could have a fire
- Repeat again each night until eventually you are not finding any more silverfish in the morning
Block their Entrance
If silverfish on the outside of your property decide that they fancy a look inside then don’t make it easy for them.
For any cracks or holes inside your house, especially in areas that are already infected, use a silicone caulk.
If they are outside your house then they are likely to be close to the foundation. Spread cedar bark around the foundation as this is another thing that they hate and will up sticks and move to get away from.
Get a Comprehensive Guide
I’ve provided quite a few tips above but there is a book by Bob Haskins entitled Silverfish Control: The Ultimate Guide to Get Rid of Silverfish that says it all a lot better than I can.
This is the formeost guide on how to get rid of silverfish naturally. The information provided in the book should eliminate any Silverfish problem naturally and permanently and he guarantees that the bugs will not dare come back in the future. He provides a step by step solution that essentially breaks down like this: –
- Trap and kill as many adults as you can to break the breading
- Prevent them from accessing their sources of food
- Alter the conditions in your home so the environment is no
longer suitable for them
- Prevent them from being able to find safe shelters in your home
Bob methods are 100% safe and for most people it is not going to take long to get everything in place (hours not days).