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How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Getting rid of silverfish can be a “slippery fish.” These creepy crawlies sneak around in dark areas and hide when the lights come on. They’re quick and small, making it easy for them to hide in cracks and crevices. Silverfish can damage household items, so you don’t want them hanging out in your house. Check out a few tips to help you prevent and get rid of silverfish in your home. 

What Do Silverfish (Lepisma Saccharina) Look Like?


Silverfish get their name from their silvery-blue color and scaly appearance. They have squirmy, fish-like movements. These pests are about ½ʺ-1ʺ long and have two antennae on their head. They sport three tail-like appendages at the end of their tear-shaped body. Silverfish have a metallic appearance too.

Silverfish vs. Firebrats

Silverfish and firebrats are often confused for one another. While they are related and share similar characteristics, there are distinct differences. These pests have a similar body shape and three tail-like appendages. However, silverfish are a solid silvery or gray color, while firebrats are a mottled brown or gray. Firebrats prefer hot temperatures, and they’re often found near hot water pipes, fireplaces, and furnaces. Silverfish like warm environments but not nearly as hot as firebrats. They are usually spotted in basements, cupboards, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and on bookshelves.

Are Silverfish Dangerous or Harmful to Humans or Pets?

Dog and dog owner on couch

Thankfully, silverfish aren’t known to bite or carry any diseases. They aren’t known to bite pets either. If your furry family members happen to eat one, they aren’t poisonous. However, they may leave your pets with a stomachache.

Silverfish are indoor pests, and they’re known to eat through household items including books, papers, wallpaper, and clothing. They can also contaminate food in pantries. These pests do breed quickly, so one silverfish could be a warning sign of a large infestation.

How Long Do Silverfish Live?

Silverfish can live between six to eight years. Females can lay 2-20 eggs daily, year-round, and silverfish larvae can grow into adults in three to four months. Doing the math will quickly reveal that even just one male and one female silverfish can easily fill your basement with silverfish in a matter of weeks.

Ready for even more bad news? Silverfish can be very difficult to kill, having built up a resistance to many conventional insecticides.

Where Do Silverfish Live?

Silverfish reside in dark, damp, moist areas, as do other household pests like cockroaches. By preventing and getting rid of silverfish, you will also be doing quite a bit to eliminate other bugs in your home. 

The best places to look for silverfish include:

  • Bathrooms/bathtubs/showers/sinks
  • Near plumbing and underneath sinks
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basements
  • Crawlspaces
  • Garages
  • Attics
  • Closets

What Do Silverfish Eat?

Silverfish eating paper

Silverfish primarily eat starches and proteins, and they will even eat the glue on book bindings, plaster, and wallpaper adhesives. They will also eat dead insects. Like cockroaches, silverfish go crazy for the taste of paper and damp wood. You can also easily find them near books, piles of magazines and newspapers, in and near boxes, behind wallpaper, and around damp or rotting cabinets and window sills. Even without food, as long as there is water/moisture, silverfish can survive for up to a year.  

What Attracts Silverfish?

Silverfish are drawn to areas where they can find food and a dark, damp place to hide. Check out a few things in and around your home that could be attracting silverfish.

  • Moisture: One of the main reasons silverfish end up in your home and yard is because of moisture. Check for areas that could be collecting water, repair or replace leaking pipes, and ensure your gutters are working properly.
  • Yard Debris: Things like grass clippings, piles of leaves, wood, and rocks can all provide silverfish with moisture and shelter.
  • Mulch: Having mulch in your garden can be beneficial to your plants, but the moisture it retains can also attract silverfish.
  • Food: Silverfish love to feed on items found in your pantry and cabinets. Make sure your food, especially grains and items containing sugar, are stored in tightly sealed containers.
  • Books & Fabric: Fabric, books, and other paper products can also become a snack for silverfish. When storing these items, make sure they are in plastic bins that keep silverfish out.

How to Prevent Silverfish

If you want to get rid of silverfish, prevention is always the best strategy. Here are some easy-to-follow recommendations to help you keep silverfish out of your home:

Clean and Organize

Mopping floor

Cleaning can help to reduce the chance of silverfish sneaking into your home. Clutter, like stacks of newspapers and magazines, can act as food and shelter for these pests. It’s also important to regularly sweep, mop, and vacuum. This will help to eliminate food crumbs and other things they may eat as well as their eggs. Transfer dry foods and pet food into canisters. Get rid of loose paper bags and empty boxes that may be lying around.

Seal it Up


Preventing entry points is a big step in preventing these pests from entering your home in the first place. Seal up all cracks and crevices, door jamb cracks, utility entry points, holes in your bricks (weep holes), and any other possible areas where they could get in. 

Reduce Exterior Clutter and Trim Vegetation

Trimming vegetation

The invitation to silverfish and other pests to enter your home may be coming from the outside. When you are taking the time to seal up your house, remember to eliminate harborage areas, like leaf litter and clutter, away from the sides of your home, especially away from weep holes. Trim vegetation a foot or so away from your home’s sides so branches and leaves are not touching the outer walls.



Because silverfish seek out humid, damp areas, using a dehumidifier will help in making such areas less attractive to them. Dehumidifying can be costly, but well worth it, to keep these unwelcome visitors out. Take special care of your dark basement, which is prone to moisture build-up and has many potential hiding places.

Silverfish prevention & controlSilverfish prevention & control

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Home Bug Spray

When silverfish sneak into your home, there are things you can do to get rid of them. Here are a few options to help you eliminate a silverfish infestation. 

Spot Treat

Though silverfish have developed a resistance to many conventional pesticides, they can still be zapped with a good plant-based insecticide spray. Our Home Bug Spray is lethal to a variety of indoor pests, including silverfish, and it also offers you some residual repellent protection.

Use Bait

You can strategically place bait in areas where silverfish visit. Our Roach Killer Gel Bait is made from soil microbes, giving you a naturally derived bait that silverfish love. The bait attracts and kills silverfish, making it easier to eliminate an infestation.

With baits, less is more, so you’ll want to apply small pea-sized spots of bait in areas you have been seeing silverfish. They are commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, attics, garages, and basements.

Use Dust

Our Spider & Insect Dust is formulated with plant essential oils. It can be used for both prevention and control of silverfish. You can apply the dust in out-of-the-way places including cracks, crevices, wall voids, along baseboards, under and inside cabinets, under sinks, and under and between appliances. Dusts offer long-lasting control because the product remains effective for up to ten years when undisturbed.

Preventative measures can help to keep silverfish out of your home. When these pests do sneak inside, you’ll want to find a quick and effective solution. Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products for a more environmentally and family-friendly solution. 


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