Silverfish are a very common household pest. They tend to be found in humid areas like bathrooms, especially around showers, tubs and sinks. It’s also common to see them around the kitchen sink, or other areas inside and outside of your home where there tends to be plenty of water.
Silverfish feed on molds, carbohydrates and fungi. Unfortunately, that means they have a fairly broad range of acceptable foods in just about any home. Areas that get wet or retain humidity and grow mold are a favorite place for silverfish to gather. They will also make a meal out of soaps, shampoos, books, clothes, cardboard boxes, and many other things commonly found around your house and/or garage.
The good news is that it’s not too difficult to make your home inhospitable to silverfish, causing them to leave and look for their next meal elsewhere. There are several methods you can carry out on your own, without the need for an exterminator, that should work well. Best of all, these methods won’t expose you, your pets, or your children to toxic chemicals.
The first thing you need to do is determine where your problem lies. This is not too difficult because the little creatures tend to stay close to their food source. So if you’ve spotted a few silverfish in your bathroom, for example, you’ll want to concentrate your efforts there. They generally are not roaming around your home like other insects might do. You might find separate groups in more than one place, in which case you’ll need to treat each area, but they will stick around their source of food until it is gone.
Here are seven natural methods of eliminating silverfish in your home:
Cedar Shavings: Silverfish don’t like the smell of cedar shavings. The easiest, and cleanest, way to use this method is to put a handful of shavings into small net bags, like the kind you would see used for potpourri. Leave a few of these bags around the area where you’ve seen the pests and it should help with getting them to move out. You’ll likely find everything you need to put these together at any store that sells potpourri ingredients.
Cucumber Slices: Cucumbers give off another scent that silverfish don’t like. While this method is effective, you need to be a bit more careful about where you put the slices. You don’t want to stain anything with cucumber juice or walk into the bathroom in the middle of the night and step on a squishy slice. The slices should be replaced when they dry out. You should be able to stop putting them out when you see evidence (or lack of evidence) indicating that the silverfish have moved on.
Lavender Oil: One more item to add to the list of smells that silverfish can’t stand. To make a solution that can be applied all over the home, just mix a teaspoon of concentrated lavender oil with about half a spray bottle of water. Simply spray the mixture around areas where you’ve seen the silverfish, paying special attention to cracks and crevices where they may hide, and allow it to dry. This should leave the lavender scent behind, which will discourage the silverfish from returning. Spray again as needed to maintain the scent. Of course, be careful around delicate fabrics that might be damaged, but it should be safe around most furniture and carpets.
Moth balls: Good for more than just moths! Moth balls have been shown to be effective for repelling silverfish as well. If you’re having problems with these creepy crawlies in storage areas, try throwing some moth balls into boxes or bags in your attic or garage. It should keep the hungry little bugs away from your valuables.
Spices: Some of the stronger spices placed in a sachet bag can also have a repellent effect when it comes to silverfish. They don’t like the smell from bay leaves, whole cloves and sage. Place any of these, whole and not ground up, in a potpourri sachet and put them around areas where you’ve seen the silverfish. Your tiny neighbors should start looking for a new home pretty quickly.
Citrus Sprays: These sprays can be found in many home improvement and garden stores. It’s important to make sure you are getting citrus spray designed for repelling bugs, and not citrus scented cleaning sprays. The two are not the same thing, and the cleaning products will not do you any good. These sprays should be organic and harmless to people and pets. Simply spray around the areas where you’ve seen silverfish and send them running for the hills.
Diatomaceous Earth: A little bit difficult to pronounce, but definitely an effective bug killer. Again, you may have to look in a home improvement or garden store to find this item. It might also help to write down the name to avoid problems with pronunciation when you get to the store. Look (or ask) for food grade diatomaceous earth. It is a fine powder that you can simply sprinkle around areas where you’ve seen the bugs. It is completely harmless to people and pets but will kill just about any insect through dehydration. Simply make sure it’s in a dry area, and replace it if it gets wet. Insects will die shortly after coming into contact with it.