Silverfish Control & Prevention: Where do Silverfish come from and live? What is a Silver Bug?

What is a silverfish (Silver bug)?

Silverfish, also known as a Silver bug is a filthy, disgusting and slimy bugs classified under the order Thysanura. These insects prefer dark places. They are nocturnal and usually roam around at night searching for food and water.

They have a flat body which makes it possible to hide by squeezing into small crevices and cracks during daytime. Firebrats are also scientifically classified under the same order, and they look very similar by virtue of this classification.

In terms of physical features, Silverfish is a wingless insect approximately half an inch in length, but can grow to ¾ and inch in some species. It is shiny and silver in color with flat body. Their shape and movement resembles that of the fish.

Ideally, the silver color and shape and movement of the fish is the origin of the name ‘Silverfish’. Other features include three prominent tails at the back and their head has two long antennas.

Basically these little buggers are not dangerous in the world. They are mostly nuisance, but they pose little damage to your home. Further to that, the natural fear of insects prompts people to take radical actions to get rid of Silverfish from their homes.

These bugs are a nuisance as they feed books, manuscripts, natural textiles and wallpaper pastes. Unless you take action, these bugs are very unlikely to disappear from your home. It is important to note the following things about Silverfish:

  • They love cool, moist and dark places
  • Silver bugs love glue, paper, clothing, drywall and starchy foods
  • They do not cause or transmit diseases
  • Silverfish do not bite humans
  • They cannot cause extensive damage

How to Identify Silverfish

Physical features and biological classification are the basis of identifying many insect species. Other components that can be used include behaviors, living condition and foods they feed on among other characteristics. In terms of behaviors, Silverfish are nocturnal pests and because these, they usually roam at night and tend to hide during daytime.

Physical Features

In terms of physical features, Silver bugs:

  • Are shiny-silver in color and half an inch average length
  • They have the shape and movement of a fish
  • They have fish-carrot shaped flat body
  • They have two long antennas on their head and three tails on rear.
  • Adults and large nymphs have scales

If you come across an insect with these features in moist and warm environment in your home and preferably dark areas, they are likely to be Silver bugs. These culprits can also be identified by their scales beneath and around damaged items in your house.

Similarity with firebrats

Silverfish and firebrats are similar in many respects from biological classification, shape and behaviors and also living areas. They are both commonly found in homes in damp, dark and cool areas.

Integrated pest management department of the University of California has identified and distinguished Silverfish and Firebrats using two common species found in the United States.

Accordingly, Lepisma saccharina is a common species of Silverfish with silver, pearl gray or shiny color and half an inch long, but can also grow up ¾ an inch in length. Similarly, a common firebrat species- Thermobia Domestica has a shiny, grayish and brown color and also half an inch in length.

Both species are wingless and have slender soft body with long antennas. Their body taper/diminish steadily from the head toward the rear ending with 3 long tail appendages. You will also find scales on large nymphs and adults. These similarities are summarized in bullets:

  • They both belong to a primitive insect order- Thysanura
  • They are marked by fish or carrot shaped flat bodies
  • Adults have two long slender antennas on their head.
  • They are wingless, slender and soft bodied pests

Where do silverfish come from?

Silverfish come from natural environment that is conducive for their survival- preferably moist, cool and dark environment and they also feed on molds and starchy foods. They can be typically found virtually anywhere with humid, cool and dark condition with moderate temperature 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The environment should also have good sources of food, and will always remain and thrive until the food is exhausted or removed.

Where do silver bugs live?

Common habitats for Silverfish are:

  • Kitchens sinks
  • Laundry rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Basements
  • Attics

You are likely to find them in bathtubs, under the sinks, bookcases, storage boxes, old stacks of papers, behind wallpapers, baseboards, door and window frames, wall voids and on closet shelves.

Get Rid of Silverfish Naturally (Physically)

Even though they are less harmful, Silverfish can be a nuisance. Besides the natural fear of insects by human beings, these insects can cause little damage to your books and manuscripts, foods and clothing with their excrement and also in search of something to eat. For these reasons, people are prompted to take up radical measures to eradicate these disgusting pests from their presence.

Therefore, the most fundamental question is: what kills silverfish naturally? You can use a number of methods to get rid of Silverfish physically from your home and office. Home remedies on how to go about to successful get rid of silverfish naturally is explained as follows:

1. Reduce humidity

This little bug thrives in a humid, cool and dark environment. According to James Norton, a renowned Pest Control expert in London, denying them these favorable conditions will definitely hamper their survival.

This can be achieved using a dehumidifier in damp basements, ventilating your bathroom and seal up leaking pipes in your home.

In order to keep out the weather, you need to seal up exterior cracks using things like caulk. You also need to clear downpours and gutters to ensure smooth running of water down and away.

2. Sealing up foods

Seal all dry foods like pasta, cereal, flour, quinoa, sugar and pet foods in airtight and sturdy container. This helps to prevent access of Silverfish to food sources which are essential for their sustenance.

This will also protect your favorite cereal and other foods from being damaged by these squirming bugs.

3. Clearing the cutter

Silver bugs prefer dark places and tend to hide in crevices and cracks. They also love feasting upon old magazines and papers as well as books and starchy substances. In this regard, clearing your room off pieces of papers and starchy materials could help you get rid of Silverfish. Always get rid of such unused stuff and store them in airtight bins, particularly for bins kept in attic of basement.

4. Apply essential oils

After completing the above precautionary measures, you can also use essential oils to up your game. Jane Clark, pest control expert from UK- based Panther Pest Control advises that lavender, citrus, cedar, cinnamon and basil smells can be used to repel Silverfish thus preventing them from spreading. All you need to do is to fill your spray bottle with vodka or distilled water with about 25 drops of essential oil.

Proceed and spray the contents around kitchen sinks, bathroom areas and baseboards and any other place infested by Silverfish. Keeping your cloths tucked with cinnamon sticks in your drawers and storing them with dried lavender sachets will keep away.

5. Trapping

Traps may also be used to trap these insects if the above approaches fail to get rid of Silver bugs from your vicinity. Small packets like Dekko Silverfish Paks brand can be used to trap and poison these squirming bugs.

These packs contain boric acids and natural pesticides among other borax ingredients. You can hide this pack in areas like dresser, bookshelves and desk drawers, as well as below the kitchen sink, attic and basement.

6. Using Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth or DE powder destroys the outer waxy covering of the insect thus dehydrating the insect to death. DE contains diatoms from fossilized remains of algae. Sprinkle this powder around places commonly infested with Silverfish.

This should be done in the evening and for a number of nights in a row. As nocturnal creatures, Silverfish roams at night in darkness will come in contact with DE.

Get rid of Silverfish using Chemicals

Sometimes insecticides can be used to get rid of Silverfish from your office and home. Applying residual insecticide in areas where Silverfish thrive can help to kill and get rid of them from your home. Commonly used product is Pro-active C control Silverfish Control spray which can be safely sprayed in all areas.

However, note that insecticides are harmful, therefore keep children and pets away from treated areas for 1-4 hours to allow the spray to dry. Re-apply the spray after one month to totally get rid of silver bugs.

Silverfish Bugs Exterminators & Killers

  1. Citrus sprays– These are manufactured, but smells like citrus. These sprays have repellent scent for keeping away Silverfish from your home. Spray the solution in areas inhabited by these insects.
  2. Diatomaceous Earth – As explained earlier, Diatomaceous Earth contains diatoms from fossilized remains of algae. It works by dissolving the waxy coating of these insects. This action dehydrates the insect to death. It is an efficient substance that kills insects as they walk on it and is also not harmful to people and animals.
  3. Lavender oil– Lavender oil has repelling smell that keeps silver bugs away from your home and office. This method has proved effective in getting rid of these pests. The process of mixing is explained earlier in this article the ‘under get rid of silverfish naturally’.
  4. Mothballs– Silver fish cannot bear the smell of mothballs. Placing them in areas where they live will chase them away.
  5. Cucumbers– Cucumbers also have repellant smell for silverfish. Cut them into small pieces and place them in their hiding environment. Remember to replace these cucumber slices as they become dry.
  6. Cedar Pieces– These also works like cucumbers and using some pieces or shavings will help you get rid of Silver bugs.

Natural Silver fish killers

  1. Baits and Silverfish Traps These traps are safe and cheap. They are natural approaches used to eradicate silverfish. Note that sticky traps are effective in trapping insects and can be purchased from your local hardware stores. Moist cotton and starchy foods are placed in these traps as baits to attract silverfish. The trap mechanisms do not allow insects to get out once inside.
  2. Newspaper trap – Moisten and rolled up newspapers can also be used as homemade trap. Tie them with elastics and place them in areas inhabited by silverfish overnight to trap insects. You can burn the newspaper full of insects in the morning. Repeat this procedure until you get rid of insects from your home.
  3. Jar or Glass container – You can also use glass or jar as a trap for silverfish. Use masking tape to cover the container. Fill it with sugary water or place a piece of bread in the container to act as bait. This trap is then placed in common places where silverfish roam at night. These insects will climb the masking thereby falling into container. They will die in the process since they will not be able to climb the slick slides to escape from the trap.

Silverfish Prevention Measures

Silverfish prevention measures are typically used to deter future infestation of these bugs. Penn recommends the following prevention measures for Silverfish attack:

  1. Reducing sources of food: These insects are sustained by food hence depriving them the food makes it difficult to survive. Always keep flour, sugar, cereal, pastas and pet foods in airtight containers.
  2. Reducing water Sources: This helps to get rid of humid environment. It can be done using dehumidifiers in moist places and ventilating bathrooms. You also need to seal up leaking pipes and exterior cracks using things like caulk. You also need to clear downpours and gutters for smooth running of water down and away.
  3. Reduce Harborages: Limit their access to spaces where they hide and thrive by eliminating any openings. This can be done using spackles, caulks and expandable foam. Get rid of crevices and cracks behind and under the baseboards, door and window frames as well as walls and floors where water pipes pass.

Sources and References on Silverfish Control

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