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Silverfish control and treatments


The scientific name, Lepisma saccharina, literally translates as "sugar eater". It was chosen because silverfish tend to eat starchy foods high in carbohydrates and protein, such as dextrin in glues. However, the insect's more common name comes from the insect's distinctive metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movement. They commonly feed on books or book bindings, but may also eat paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, flour, dried meat, rolled oats and clothing, especially if it has been starched. They are nocturnal, requiring high humidity (75% to 90%) and temperatures between 70-80° F to survive.

Life Cycle of the Silverfish
The female silverfish deposits eggs continuously after reaching the adult stage and may deposit over 100 eggs during her life. Eggs are deposited singly or in small groups in cracks and crevices and hatch in 3 to 4 weeks. Silverfish develop from egg to young to adult within 4 to 6 weeks and continue to molt throughout their life. They are long-lived, surviving from two to eight years. They can go as long as a year without eating.

Silverfish Control

  • Clean closets on a regular basis to help remove harborage areas. Vacuum regularly and clean up spilled food or drink immediately. Make sure to inspect any items brought into the home, especially those that have been in storage, to avoid an infestation.
  • Remove old books, magazines and newspapers. If books or fabrics will be in storage, store these items in sealed plastic containers.
  • Reduce humidity by using air conditioning units, fans or dehumidifiers. Repairing any plumbing leaks will cut off water sources for these insects.

Insecticide treatments should be targeted to harborage areas such as cracks and crevices, around baseboards, closets and attics. Natural active ingredients include d-limonene, clove oil, thyme oil, boric acid or diatomaceous earth. So try Citrus Home Pest Control, Orange Guard, EcoPCO ACU, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (Safer Ant & Crawling Insect Killer, Concern Crawling Insect killer, JT Eaton™ Kills Bedbugs and Crawling Insects Powder) where the silverfish are known to be; they will die in a few days. Use JT Eaton™ Answer® Boric Acid as bait in the same way.

See more products for indoor pests in our Cockroaches and Other Indoor Pests section.