Silverfish Control and Extermination: How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Silverfish Prevention

  • Eliminate sources of excessive moisture such as faulty plumbing and condensation. Silverfish love the humidty.

  • Using a dehumidifier will reduce the moisture content of the air that is essential to silverfish survival.
  • Other dehumidify methods include:
    • Ventilate closed rooms and attics
    • Eliminate standing water
    • Run an air conditioner
  • Regularly vacuum cracks and crevices around the home with a narrow tip.
  • Remove easily accessible food sources by storing pantry food in tight containers.

Silverfish Removal

If you already have a silverfish problem inside your home, spray the home's perimeter with a residual insecticide. Spraying the inside perimeter with a narrow band helps kill silverfish as they move throughout the structure. Spraying the outside foundation wall will keep a variety of bugs from entering the structure including silverfish. In addition, you can scatter an insecticide bait such as Intice Perimeter 10 in the attic.

Recommended Silverfish Control Insecticides
lambdastar ultracap 9.7LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7
cyper wspCyper WSP

Spray along the foundation wall, with a two or three foot band. LamdaStar UltraCap 9.7 and Cyper WSP last for two to three months. Both LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7 and Cyper WSP are odorless. The wettable powder (WP) formulation in the and Cyper WSP will leave a slight film that can be seen against dark surfaces. LamdaStar UltraCap 9.7 does not leave a film.

However if you have a severe active infestation of silverfish, further action will need to be taken. Look at stored boxes and insulation in your attic as a food source for the silverfish. It is best to dust or bait these areas for greater control.
When you use baits or dusts, get it as close as possible to the silverfish habitat for maximum effect. Make sure that the bait and dust stays hidden from humans and pets.
Dust needs to be in hidden areas such as:

  • Attic Insulation
  • Behind Refrigerators and Ovens
  • On Boxes
  • Light fixtures
  • Electrical outlets
  • Underneath siding
Recommended Silverfish Control Dusts

Cimexa Dust

cimexa dust

D-Fense Dust

d-fense dust

Both dusts last 6 months in areas protected from the elements such as attics When applying insecticide dust to attics, pay particular attention to insulation. Also make sure to cover storage boxes, light fixtures and electrical outlets.
Apply the dust to any area that can be kept dry.

An easy way to apply D-Fense Dust and Cimexa Dust, is to use an insecticide duster called the Dustin Mizer. The dustin mizer is good for cranking out a large amount of dust quickly.
You will want to use 1 lb of dust per 800-1000 square feet.

For smaller dusting jobs Bellows Dusters work fine.

Recommended Silverfish Control Baits, Aerosols and Traps

Intice granule

Intice Granular Bait works very well against silverfish as well as roaches and crickets.

It can be sprinkled out in a self contained one lb.bag, in all the areas you believe they are hiding. Typical areas of baiting would be in the attic or crawlspace.

PT 221L Residual Insecticide Aerosol with a crack and crevice tip, enables you to get behind baseboards and corners of traveling paths of the silverfish. This type of aerosol is very helpful in bathrooms where silverfish like to eat the back of wallpaper.

Pro-Pest Silverfish Traps

This ready to use trap protects books and museum pieces that silverfish may attack. It also traps Firebrats, Drugstore Beetles, Museaum beetle larvae Firebrats, Museum beetle larvae, Brown carpet beetle larvae, and Psocoptera.


Click on image to enlarge

Silverfish Photograph by: J.L. Castner, University of Florida

Silverfish Appearance

Silverfish are about 1/2 inch long, with a uniform silvery color over the top surface. Their bodies are long and slender. Silverfish are broad at their head with a grudual tapering toward their rear.
Silverfish can be found almost anywhere, but they prefer damp environments with moderate temperatures such as basements, laundry rooms, and under sinks.

Silverfish Biology and Habits

  • Silverfish prefer dark and moist environments (75 - 97% humidity). Some of their preferred habitats are basements, kitchens, sinks, bathtubs, bookcases, closet shelves, behind baseboards, wall voids, and sub-floors
  • Silverfish require a large supply of starchy foods or molds to survive. Silverfish diets are high in protein, sugar, or starch, including cereals, moist wheat flour, starch in book bindings, and paper on which there is glue or paste.
  • Silverfish are considered a nuisance pest because they feed on wallpaper pastes, natural textiles, books, and papers. Silverfish also feed on mold and fungus that grows on a variety of other surfaces.
  • Silverfish are fast-moving and can travel throughout buildings. Once they find a good source of food, they stay close to it.
  • Silverfish go through a three stage life cycle called gradual metamorphosis, whereas most insects have a four stage life cycle (complete metamorphosis). Silverfish can lay eggs at any time during the year. The eggs take 19-43 days to hatch. The life cycle from silverfish egg to adult is three to four months.
  • Silverfish are nocturnal, but they are also active in dark areas throughout the structures they inhabit. They can be a problem year round.
  • You may see silverfish trapped in sinks and bathtubs because they enter seeking moisture and are unable to climb a slick vertical surface to escape.
Note: Attics are a favorite place for silverfish to inhabit due to the abundant food sources available from blown in paper insulation and storage boxes.

Silverfish Detection and Signs of Infestation:

  • Silverfish molt throughout their lives. Finding their cast skin is a good indicator that silverfish are present.
  • Finding small irregular shaped holes in fabrics is a common sign of silverfish. Irregular shaped holes in wallpaper is another indicator because they like to eat the glue.
  • Silverfish may leave a yellowish stain on fabric. Firebrats will feed extensively on rayon, whereas silverfish usually damage it only slightly.
  • Outside, silverfish may be found in nests. These nests can belong to other insects, birds, and mammals. They also live under tree bark and mulch. They are sometimes found in wood shingles or sidings on houses.
  • Inside, silverfish are found just about anywhere that is dark and humid.