How to control silverfish

Adult Silverfish

Adult Silverfish

Maybe you find a silverfish trapped in the sink or bath? Maybe you see a silverfish run from under an older pair of shoes in your wardrobe? Some may just shrug their shoulders. Others know that this could mean big trouble…. because where there is one silverfish there will be others….. and where there is silverfish there could be damage to clothing and more! Many struggle to get rid of silverfish when they take up residence, but if you understand a bit about silverfish behaviour and use the correct silverfish control products, there is no reason you cannot get rid of silverfish.

Silverfish Identification

What do silverfish look like?

  • Silverfish are a primitive, wingless insect (so they have six legs). Their tapered body and fast wriggling movement, along with their silvery scales gives them some "fish-like" features.
  • Silverfish eggs are whitish and oval-shaped, about 0.8mm long. They will often be found in groups of up to 60 eggs in cracks and crevices.
  • Young silverfish look very similar to the adult, except they are smaller and whiter in colour.
  • Adult silverfish can be up to 3cm long. If you find a large silverfish, the chances are they have been laying eggs for a long time and you could have a big problem.

Signs of an infestation

Other than seeing silverfish, holes in clothing, chewed areas on boxes and damage to pages of books could also indicated a silverfish infestation. Sometimes the damage is accompanies by a yellow stain.

Main pest season

There is no pest season for silverfish as they live indoors. Certainly warmer weather allows them to breed more quickly, but it is the humidity that is critical for their survival. They need a relative humidity of between 75% and 95%, which generally only occurs in Summer in cooler climates (year round in the tropics) or in buildings whether there is dampness or a moisture issue.

Silverfish Facts

  • Silverfish live in moist areas, with a high humidity. In buildings they are commonly found in roof voids, sub-floors, bathrooms and laundries. They are commonly found in stored cardboard boxes.
  • Silverfish are nocturnal, running away from light and vibrations - so like dark, undisturbed areas.
  • Silverfish have a strong preference for materials containing complex sugars such as starch. Complex sugars are found in many materials including paper, glue, carpet and clothing. They will also eat other plant and animal materials such as cotton and leather. 
  • Silverfish can cause significant damage to clothing as well as spoil food. However, it is their damage to books, photos and documents that is often irreplaceable.
  • Adult silverfish can live for 2-8 years, getting progressively bigger. In that time they can lay a lot of eggs… so a large silverfish may mean you have a big problem.
  • Silverfish don't come up drains, they fall into basins and baths and are unable to climb out.

Silverfish Prevention Tips

  • As silverfish like moist / high humidity environments, reducing humidity in susceptible areas is the key; use de-humidifiers, air-conditioning and fans and in bathrooms, kitchens, laundries, roof voids, sub-floors and any other damp areas. 
  • Try and find out if there is a reason for the moisture / high humidity and fix it. (Poor drainage under the house, leaking roof, leaking taps, tumble dryer not vented to the outside are common problems).
  • It is impossible to remove all food sources (clothes, paper and books), but you can make it hard for them to access.  Keep these items off the floor and stored in sealed containers if possible.  
  • Maintain a strict hygiene regime.  Not only vacuuming thoroughly, including in all those dark corners, but cleaning up any spilt food and storing open food in sealed containers.  Make sure the contents of the vacuum bag are placed in a sealed bag and put in the bin after each use.  
  • Use caulking agents to fill any gaps in walls and skirting boards.
  • Carefully check any cardboard boxes you may bring into the house to avoid re-infestation.

Silverfish Control Tips

  • Prior to any silverfish treatment a Spring clean is required; 
    • Ideally throw out any cardboard boxes used for storage and replace with sealed plastic containers. If you must keep cardboard boxes they should be stored off the ground and treated (but this won't guarantee re-infestation)
    • Carry out a thorough vacuum of rooms (especially the room edges and under furniture) and cupboards
    • Remove any clothes and belongings from areas to be treated and check for silverfish.
    • If the clothes and belongings are not susceptible to heat, place in a black plastic bag and leave in the sun for 1-2 hours, to kill any silverfish and eggs on the clothes.
  • Use a total release aerosol (fogger or "bomb) in rooms of high infestation. 
  • Use a insecticide spray (aerosol or ready to use pump pack) under furniture, around the perimeter of rooms and in all shelves and drawers of cupboards.
  • Potential hot spots in roof voids and sub-floors should also be sprayed.

PestXpert Silverfish Products

  • PestXpert Pro-Fogger total release aerosol provides the first stage of a silverfish treatment. Release one aerosol per room to provide complete coverage. The stabilising stand ensures the aerosol does not fall over in use. Ensure all safety instructions are read before use. 
  • To hit any dead spots (such as under furniture), use Pro-Spray crawling aerosol or Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor to finish the interior treatment.
  • Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor can also be used to treat any cupboards or drawers. 
  • Silverfish hotspots in the roof void and sub-floor can be treated with Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor or Pro-Spray Crawling aerosol.
Pro-Fogger

Pro-Fogger

Pro-Spray Crawling

Pro-Spray Crawling

Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor

Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor