Chances are, if you find yourself desperately searching the internet for articles on how to kill silverfish that you’re long past the stage of trying to identify them, repel them or keep your home free from these unwanted pests.
Welcome to the creep-crawly infestation club, grab a cup of insecticide from the table at the back and take a seat.
Tackling a silverfish infestation can be trickier than some other common household pests, for a couple of reasons: mainly that they reproduce in record numbers and are the reigning champions of bug hide-and-seek.
You can wait for the odd straggler to rear its antennae and scurry across your kitchen floor, but even if you kill it – it’s likely just a drop in the ocean of silverfish.
Luckily, there are a variety of ways to turn the tide.
How to Kill Silverfish
Like all methods of pest control, the below ways to kill silverfish work best when used in clever combination with one another. Let’s begin!
Diatomaceous earth is pretty much the serial bridesmaid of the pest-killing world: always present but rarely given its chance to shine. It’s likely that DE is often overlooked because it acts differently from what we’d usually expect of an insecticide or something of its ilk.
Rather than instantly killing the pest it comes in contact with. DE instead latches on to the insect’s body or legs and slowly dehydrates it from the outside in – killing it over time. This makes it a pretty solid foundation on which to build your silverfish killing arsenal.
Application of DE is pretty simple (and is safe for use in the home): simply sprinkle the powder in choice locations where silverfish are likely to congregate, set up homes or lay eggs. For best results, try spaces behind cookers, ovens, fridges and in the gaps and crevices around your home (even in the space behind wall sockets!).
Remember that they love the dark, quiet and moist spaces in your house.
Like its friend diatomaceous earth, boric acid is another commonly used powdered silverfish killer (also useful for a whole host of other leggy invaders that might squeeze into your home).
Boric acid is faster acting and a little more aggressive than DE, however, and will likely kill off silverfish shortly after they pass through the substance.
There are different grades, types and brands of boric acid available out there, but for added effectiveness, you want to be looking at some of the granular baits. Most of these contain carbohydrate or sugary ingredients which attract those creepy crawlies and house flies etc. which feed on such things as part of their diet. And what do silverfish love? Starchy, sugary meals.
The most effective is Niban Granular Insecticide Bait – it’s easy to use and sprinkle and it wipes out silverfish infestations fast.
In terms of applying, it’s really just the same as DE – however, remember that this compound is actively poisonous, so it’s worth some extra care if you have pets in the home.
Perhaps only use boric acid in harder to reach spaces, or dilute it with water if you are concerned about the wellbeing of any domestic animals.
Dekko Silverfish Bait Packs
On a similar note; some homeowners may wish to try something a little less messy, such as Dekko silverfish bait packs. In essence, these packs are paper soaked in boric acid solution which will attract any nearby silverfish for a quick nibble.
The rest is history, as they say. Other brands are available and although the potency of the boric acid is fairly low, household pets may still suffer some upset should they find their way to eating them, so again: diligence is necessary!
Sticking with the old MouseHunt method of traps and lures – silverfish traps are a highly recommended form of extermination.
These are fairly rudimentary devices, but very useful for keeping any pesky bugs (not just silverfish) out of your pantry or other areas that they may contaminate.
Essentially, the traps are cardboard structures with a very powerful sticky agent which holds any nomadic bug captive once it comes in contact with the surface. Some of these traps come infused with an alluring scent or taste to bait the bugs, but many don’t.
That said, it’s very easy to bait them yourself; simply place some bread or sugary water etc. on the inside of the glue trap and wait (most of these traps will last months without losing their sticking-strength, but just remember… the longer you leave it, the ickier it’s going to be when you have to dispose of it!).
The added bonus here is that there are no chemicals or harmful agents to be worried about introducing into your home.
Spray Silverfish Poison Outside
Although it’s true that once an infestation has taken hold of your home, it’s likely that most of the culprits you see will have been born under your roof, it’s still worth remembering that that initial silverfish family came from outside.
This is why one of the strongest moves throughout the extermination process is to spread powerful insecticides on the outside and perimeter of your home, if only to make sure the problem doesn’t get any worse.
Powerful insecticides will work very quickly – often having a ‘knock down effect’ which essentially kills the silverfish as soon as it comes in contact with the chemical. Obviously, this potency is why more powerful insecticides are recommended for outside use rather than domestic.
Of course, as ever, you must follow the safety and application guidelines of your insecticide – safety should always come first with poisonous compounds! Unless you’re a silverfish yourself, in which case…Sorry, pal.
Aerosol Insecticides for Cracks and Crevices
For domestic use, aerosol insecticides are incredibly useful. Aside from being much cheaper and more varied in the marketplace, they’re also much more practical for the small pest battles.
For example, with a handy aerosol can you can easily target all of those small, cramped spaces and gaps around the home that silverfish just love to haunt. This makes your pest-killing a lot more controlled and deliberate, rather than hosing large spaces and hoping for the best.
All of this being said, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s not still a harmful chemical compound. Try to avoid getting any in your eyes or lungs and use in a well-ventilated area if possible.
Clean with your vacuum
Although keeping a clean home and using your vacuum as a mean of pest-control is usually deemed more of a prevention tactic rather than a killing move, don’t underestimate how useful the simple hoover can be in actively combating an infestation.
All those gaps, holes and spaces in walls, skirting boards, sills, behind ovens and so forth; how else are you going to get in there and actively kill off any little hives of silverfish that might be hiding? Not to mention their eggs.
Go full Freddy Mercury and get the hose in to all the cracks you can find and clear the place out and do so regularly!
Creative DIY Silverfish Solutions
Sometimes the best methods are those that you’ve devised yourself; there’s a bunch of different tricks and tactics you can take that won’t cost you any money and use simple household items to rid you of your silverfish problem.
One of the most popular DIY tricks is to find a large, glass jar and wrap masking tape or something sticky around the outside to give a foothold for any inquisitive silverfish. Inside the jar, leave a delicious treat, like something starchy, sugary or even old bits of bread or food matter… Mmm…
This simple little trap lures the silverfish up the outside of the jar, in to the food and then holds them captive, as the glass interior walls are too slippery and smooth for the creepy-crawley to climb back out again.Simply toss the contents away and repeat!
Burn the news
Another handy little trick is to bunch up an old newspaper (or wallpaper, cardboard etc.) into a tight bundle. Soak the paper in water, or even sugar-tinged water for the extra bait factor, and leave it in an area that you’ve already identified as being rich in silverfish – or just somewhere you suspect, such as your basement, kitchen or bathroom.
Leave this sodden pile overnight. Any local silverfish will be unable to resist such a bountiful offering from the gods above and will likely burrow their way in for food and shelter.
The next day – without unrolling the paper – simply dispose of the trap as you see fit, or even burn it if it’s dry enough to really make sure that they won’t be returning any time soon. Repeat this process as often as you like!
DIY silverfish sticky traps
Making your own sticky traps or ‘roach motels’ is actually a lot easier than you might think; this tactic does require the purchase of some boric acid if you want that lethal edge, however.
Simply mix up a concoction of flour and water into a sticky paste. The flour will also act as a huge bait for any hungry silverfish, too, and sprinkle in some of the boric acid if you wish. Once you’ve got your lethal cocktail: spread it on some cardboard sheets or index cards and lay the traps in specific areas.
Although cheap and useful, the stickiness of the homemade traps will not last too long, so you’ll probably have to repeat this process more often than you would with one of the store-bought sticky trap solutions.
Hire a Professional
If your infestation is incredibly bad, or you simply want to make sure that the job is done right the first time, then it’s definitely worth looking at what professional solutions are available to you locally. After all, there’s only so much work a few sticky cards can do.
Before you hire someone, though, always do your research: there’s a reason that extermination companies are so prevalent – yes, partly because pest control is an important business, but also because many homeowners get conned very easily. Phone up, ask for credentials, inquire about their process and, of course, compare prices!
Professionals are likely to go for the nuclear route more often than not, and use harmful chemical compounds and poisons – so it’s always best to give them the full scoop on your domestic life.
Do you have young children in the house? Are there any pets living there? Do you have any allergies or medical conditions that might be exacerbated by certain elements? Tell your professional all of this before you let him or her get to work.
A qualified exterminator worth their salt will first examine your property and assess the severity of your silverfish (or other pest) problem. After your house has been given the thorough go-over, the professional should explain what they think the best course of action is, what this involves, how long it will take and any other important details.
Although, generally speaking, hiring in external help is a solid move and will likely greatly help your problem – it might not prevent it from returning. Always ask about this before the job begins: some companies will also add in prevention services, or at the very least offer you some bespoke advice on how to limit your risk of a silverfish renaissance!
If you do decide to opt for professional help, be prepared to pay a fairly sizeable sum, however. Remember that you’re paying for their time, equipment and credibility – and if you’ve done your research, it should be worth the investment.
Tip: If your problem is tame enough, it’s advised that you try some DIY and home remedies for yourself before calling for help. There’s no point paying for something you might not need!
No longer must you live in fear of the silvery threat living in your home’s darkest, tiniest and rankest spaces – the power has been bestowed upon you. Go forth and kill, kill, kill. Or phone somebody to do it for you, whichever works.