Getting Rid Of Silverfish

Silverfish Top Five Favorite Things to Eat

Silverfish are a common problem in many households. These tiny silver insects are commonly found in libraries, attics, and storage areas in people’s homes. Silverfish look like tiny fish, which is where they get their name. They are notorious for eating and destroying items in people’s homes. Knowing what attracts silverfish and what they like to eat is important if you are trying to get rid of a silverfish infestation or you want to eliminate or protect the type of items they like to eat.


One of the biggest things that silverfish like to eat is paper. They are attracted to and will eat all kinds of paper. This is why silverfish are often found in the libraries and studies of people’s homes. Silverfish are in need of starch in their diet, which is why they like to eat paper. Silverfish particular like older paper, as it is starchier and easier for the silverfish to digest.


Silverfish love to eat glue, particularly the kinds of glues that are used in binding books and in photo albums. Once again it is the polysaccharides in glue that attract silverfish, particularly a type of polysaccharide called dextrin.

Clothing and Cloth

Linen, silk, and cotton are particular favorites of silverfish. They enjoy eating the polysaccride in these types of materials, making costume shops, attics, and closets popular places to find silverfish. While these types of material are their favorite, silverfish have also been known to eat leather and synthetic materials if cotton, linen, and silk are not available. They have also been known to cause damage to wall tapestries.

Human Food

Like many insects, silverfish also like to eat human food. Because of this, kitchens are another popular infestation site. In particular, silverfish like to eat sugar and coffee. Other human foods that silverfish enjoy eating include dried pasta and dried meat, flour, and rolled oats.


Toothpaste is another non-food item that silverfish love to eat. It is full of polysaccharides including starches and dextrin. Silverfish have been known to eat toothpaste out of the tube or off the rim of your sink. Silverfish’s love of toothpaste is one reason to keep your bathroom clean

Tips to prevent silverfish

Here are some tips to keep silverfish from becoming a problem in your home:

  • Keep all dry food in your cupboards in sealed containers. This will keep them free of moisture.
  • Dust your home often. This will keep silverfish from particles that may contain starches or saccharides that they like to eat.
  • Remove items with adhesive from your home. This includes stacksof paper, laundry, cardboard boxes, or other items that silverfish could be attracted to.
  • Store clothes in a dry environment. Store clothes you won’t wear for a while in containers that silverfish can’t get into.
  • Clean up any food particles around your home. This is especially important right after a meal. Use a HEPA vacuum that can also suck up silverfish eggs and keep them from reproducing and multiplying.
  • Use caulking. Cover up cracks, holes, or openings to keep silverfish out and stop them from laying eggs.

Identifying Silverfish

Since silverfish are nocturnal, you might not realize you have an infestation in your home unless you chance upon one when turning on the light in a darkened room. These wingless insects, Lespisma sacchrina, received the name silverfish because of the silvery-brown shade of their scales. Silverfish mature at about 3/4 inch in length. Their heads sprout two long antennae, while three long “tails” appear on their other end. Juvenile silverfish look just like adults, but smaller.

Outdoor Nest Areas

Outside, silverfish nest under rocks or tree bark or in moldy places. Birds’ nests and those of rodents are also home to silverfish, as are the nests of other insects, including termites. Silverfish often nest in the crawl spaces of buildings. Since they prefer temperatures ranging between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the onset of cool weather often sends them seeking shelter indoors.

Indoor Nest Areas

Indoors, silverfish prefer damp areas with high humidity. That’s why you’ll often find silverfish in basements, kitchens, laundry rooms and around heating and water pipes. They nest and lay eggs in cracks and crevices in those locations. Kitchen cupboards are another favorite nesting locale, since crumbs and other dried foods are so readily available. Silverfish also frequently infest attics and closets, where they feed on books, clothing, paper and other carbohydrate sources.

How to get rid of silverfish

The thought of tiny little silver insects crawling all over your bathroom, pantry and closet can be enough to send you running to the phone to call pest control. While pest control can ensure that you are rid of these unwelcome guests, there are some steps you can take that can lighten your load of silverfish. Here are 5 ways to effectively get rid of silverfish from your home.

  • 1.) Dry them out – Silverfish thoroughly enjoy wet areas. First, you will need to fix any leaking water around sinks, refrigerators or toilets. Any stagnant water will provide a nice breeding ground for silverfish. Use a humidifier in suspected areas to help remove excess water or damp areas.
  • 2.) Offend their sense of smell – Another good remedy to remove silverfish is to place moth balls around areas where silverfish have been spotted. Silverfish can’t stand the smell of mothballs. Mothballs will not kill silverfish; rather serve as a deterrent from areas where they are placed. Spices such as sage, bay leaves and cloves also serve well as good repellants.
  • 3.) Seal your food – Silverfish make their way into your pantry for carbohydrate sources, their favorite snack. Seal all of your cereals and grains in plastic containers with airtight lids.
  • 4.) Clean up your mess – Vacuuming often can be a great way to get rid of any food crumbs or stuffs around your home. Vacuuming can also help remove egg clutches and prevent further silverfish infestations.
  • 5.) Chemical power – Chemicals such as boric acid are common in killing silverfish. By spraying in areas that may be suspect to silverfish traffic, you can effectively get rid of silverfish. The use of powdered boric acid on top of sugary or starchy foods is an effective bait tactic.

Silverfish repellents that DON’T work

You may notice a few regular names not appearing in the above list, and that’s because they’re actually not useful in repelling silverfish and find themselves mixed up with other pest repellents by accident. Here are silverfish repellents that just don’t work…


For example, cucumber is often slated as being a fantastic natural repellent for silverfish but in actuality it doesn’t really do anything at all. In fact, cucumber is a fantastic source of moisture for insects and bugs.


Salt, too, is often mentioned in conjunction with repelling silverfish, but again this is not true. In actual fact, the opposite is true: the salt attracts silverfish and provides a tempting source of food for them.

The bonus is that, obviously, the salt dehydrates them and can often lead to death, which can make it handy bait for traps and the like, but not a good repellent.


Bizarrely, parsley is also commonly mistaken as a repellent recommended for silverfish. There’s very little evidence or argument to back this up; it’s much more likely that folk are mixing up parsley’s effectiveness in repelling red ants with its complete impotency surrounding silverfish.