If you live in Victoria (or in any damp city), you’ve probably seen those nasty little bugs that inhabit our bathrooms, kitchens, and closets. They’re silver with long antennae and turn into powder when you smoosh them. They are the not-so-elusive silverfish.
Silverfish are gross and seem to respawn in seconds. So how do you get rid of them? Can you even get rid of them, or could they survive a nuclear apocalypse? Here are a few tips to tackle the situation.
Brighten things up
It turns out you can actually get rid of silverfish by changing the environments that they enjoy. Like UVic first-years who take their fake IDs to Distrikt every weekend, silverfish love dark, damp places. As a result, the insects can usually be found in showers, bookshelves, basements, closets, and sinks. So to start, try to brighten these areas — turn on some lights!
Air the infested area out
For example, if they’re in your bathroom, keep the fan on and the door open as often as possible. This is especially important after someone showers because the steam from the shower causes condensation to form on every open surface, creating a nice sauna for your unwanted insect roommates.
Declutter and tidy rooms where creepy crawlies hang out
The scientific name for silverfish is Lepisma Saccharina. Saccharina is a reference to saccharide, because silverfish eat things that contain polysaccharides like starches. They’ve been known to eat carpet, paper, paint, book binding glue, wallpaper, plaster, and some proteins like hair, dead insects, and dandruff. This means it’s a good idea to vacuum and dust often. (Yes, it’s annoying, but just think how proud your mom will be when you tell her you’ve been cleaning without her forcing you to do it.)
Now onto the killing! Silverfish die when they come into contact with chemicals like Permethrin and Deltamethrin. When you go to look for a pesticide, almost none of them are classified as being silverfish spray, but many list silverfish as one of the bugs that the spray works on in the fine print. A cheap option that worked for yours truly was Blaze Pro’s Crawling Insect Destroyer, which is only $7.99 at Canadian Tire. It kills the silverfish on contact but it doesn’t kill the larva, so you’ll need to spray a few times to kill the parents and the babies. Raid also has a few different sprays that work and are equally inexpensive.
NOTE: The sprays smell terrible. It’s best to do the spraying before you go home for reading break, or after you make plans to stay with a friend for a few days. I also recommend covering your mouth and nose while you spray. I used a t-shirt, but anything that filters the air a little bit will help.
Some people prefer to steer clear of chemicals and pesticides — I get it. So for a more natural way to control the pests, you can lay out cinnamon sticks or cloves in corners, doorways, windowsills, along baseboards or wherever else you’ve seen the little silver monsters. You can buy a bag of cinnamon sticks at Walmart for $1.97. Some people have found lavender and cedar oils to be effective as well. Keep in mind, silverfish don’t like the spices or oils so they work as a repellent, but they don’t actually kill the bugs. Diatomaceous Earth is also an effective natural insecticide. It is said to kill the bugs within 48 hours by dehydrating their bodies. You can buy a bag of Diatomaceous Earth on Amazon for under $15.00.
Get sticky with it
Get some glue traps! The silverfish (and many other insects) get caught in the adhesive on the cardboard strips. You can buy a pack of 90 Trapper Insect Traps for $14.25 on AllTraps.com.
Addressing the infestation quickly is important and these DIY tips may not be enough to tackle the problem. Sometimes it is best to seek professional assistance for pest control. For example, Old Island Pest Control offers free estimates and has information about what to do prior to a silverfish treatment on their website.
Now go forth and bravely conquer the silverfish army that has invaded your precious bathroom. I believe in you. You will get your home back.
Or maybe you won’t. Maybe the silverfish will take over the world and become our supreme overlords. Who can say?