The silverfish is an insect, not a fish, but it gets its name from its fish-like appearance when it crawls around. If you find one or more of these bugs in your home, they can be startling. Watching this insect "slither" across the bathroom floor isn't pleasant, but the bugs can't harm you and are probably not doing any damage to your house. Since they're harmless pests themselves, it makes sense to get rid of them in a way that won't harm them either.
Silverfish are easy to recognize as they do not resemble any other common household insect. They are small in size, around ½-1 inch in length, and have a distinct shape like a fish or an elongated teardrop. As their name suggests, they are silver or gray colored and may brightly reflect light. These insects have exoskeletons that are segmented into armor-like plates, the soft, hair-like spikes on their back ends, and two long antennae on the front. Their most easily recognizable feature is the way they move. Although they have legs, their bodies wriggle like that of a fish when they move, so from a distance they look like they are slithering across the wall or floor.
Silverfish are nocturnal, so you are more likely to see them at night. They prefer damp areas, so they are much more common in humid climates. In dry climates, the most likely cause of unwanted silverfish is a damp area behind a wall or other fixture in bathroom or basement. In areas where the humidity is regularly above 75%, these bugs can survive and reproduce more easily in a wider range of places, including in closets and kitchen pantries.
Are They Dangerous?
Although a few silverfish will not do any serious damage to your house, a large infestation of these insects could become a problem. The reason is that they eat starchy materials and often like to eat the glue on the back of wallpaper and tiles. A lot of silverfish eating away at wallpaper will eventually cause visible damage. Additionally, these pests can damage clothes and linens that have been treated with starches, and will eat starchy food and paper if given a chance. Luckily, you will probably notice the presence of these insects before the problem gets serious.
Recognizing an Infestation
When these insects noticed early, it's relatively easy to rid your bathroom or home of them. Despite their fluid movements, silverfish are not very stealthy. Unlike termites and other pests, you are likely to see these bugs out in the open, in your bathroom or elsewhere. If you see more than one silverfish, there are probably a few more lurking about. However, since they don't reproduce very frequently compared to other insects, they are easy to control using humane procedures.
Why Choose Humane Pest Control?
Many people automatically resort to harsh chemical sprays when they discover unknown insects in their house. These sprays effectively kill the insects, but have a number of drawbacks. First of all, many insects are harmless to humans and killing them is therefore unnecessary. Infestations of non-threatening insects can almost always be remedied using natural methods that do not kill them. Such methods are preferable not only because they are more humane, but also because they are less likely to cause problems for humans. Powerful chemicals used to instantly kill pests are not healthy for humans either. Inhalation of these chemicals can be dangerous, and they also have the potential to damage clothes, skin, and household surfaces. For those who have a child in the house, insecticides can be very dangerous as they can seriously injure or even kill a child who ingests them accidentally. For these and other reasons, humane pest control solutions are a better choice when they are available.
Silverfish Pest Control
For getting rid of silverfish, the humane solution is easy. Because these insects eat starchy materials, they can easily be baited with wheat flour, cornstarch, sugar, or coffee grounds. In order to trap them, follow these steps:
- Fill a glass mason jar or other high-sided glass container with some flour or other starchy food material.
- Cover this jar with a rough substance, such as sandpaper or masking tape.
- Leave the jar on a floor or on a counter near where you have observed the silverfish. Wait at least a day or two.