Long and slender with silver-colored bodies, silverfish are scary-looking insects that you really don't want to find in your home. No, they won't poison you or cause disease, but they do feed on anything starchy, including wallpaper and books so that they can cause extensive destruction in a short period of time. Luckily, you don't usually need to resort to pesticides to get rid of silverfish as long as you follow the four steps below.
1. Get rid of moisture.
Silverfish are most often found in damp areas like the basement and bathroom. They enter homes in search of moisture, and once they find a good, reliable source of moisture, they stick around. If you get rid of the moisture, they will move along and find somewhere new to spend time. Repair any plumbing leaks, patch your roof if it is leaking, and install a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. A portable one will work just fine if a whole-home dehumidifier is out of your price range.
2. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine, powdery substance made from the shells of tiny sea-dwelling creatures. It rips holes in the outside shells of bugs like silverfish, which causes the bugs to dehydrate and die. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth in areas where you have seen silverfish. Leave it in place for a few days, and then vacuum it up and replace it. (Once it absorbs moisture, it becomes ineffective and needs to be replaced.)
3. Apply cedar shavings.
Your grandmother may have kept linens and wool clothing in a cedar chest. This was because cedar wood is known to repel insects — including the moths that feed on wool and also silverfish. You can buy cedar wood chips at any pet store since they are often used as bedding in pet cages. Sprinkle some around the area where you've seen the silverfish. The scent of the cedar will repel them.
4. Seal holes.
Finally, you should walk through your house and look for any holes in the walls or along the baseboard that an insect could use to enter the home. Seal these holes with caulk or wood putty. You should also repair any torn screens and any damaged weatherstripping to make sure bugs don't crawl in.
With any luck, following the steps above will rid your home of creepy, crawly silverfish. Call your local pest control services if you're still having trouble after a few weeks.
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