Lepisma saccharina or silverfish is a tiny, wingless, carrot-shaped bug with silvery scales on its body. The signs of a silverfish infestation are nibbled books and paper, with their feces left behind. You can find them anywhere in the home but they are typically found in rooms with more moisture such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, lofts, and basements. They are not harmful to humans. However, they feed on food items (like sugar, vegetables, flour, and cereals), as well as inedible organics such as wallpaper, wallboard, cardboard boxes, and clothes. Silverfish are a real nuisance and if you’ve had enough, check out home remedies to get rid of silverfish.
1. Boric Acid
Boric acid is a naturally occurring mineral. It is poisonous to insects, causing starvation and dehydration. A light dusting of this powder is an excellent home remedy to get rid of silverfish. Sprinkle boric acid at the affected areas. The silverfish ingest the boric acid when they come into contact. Eventually, they die from the boron that their bodies cant excrete (1, 2).
Caution – If you have pets in the house, then instead of sprinkling the boric acid powder, spray a solution of water and boric acid.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is harmless to humans, toxic to silverfish and easily purchased from any good hardware store. Scatter diatomaceous earth over suspected places. Like boric acid, can causes dehydration in insects. One important fact is that it does not cause any harm to the mammals (3).
Note: This inorganic dust is effective only in dry locations (4).
3. Cedar Shavings
Cedar oil is used as an insecticide (5). The shavings of the cedar tree smell delightful and you’ll love the aroma in your home. So, just place some cedar shavings at the silverfish infested areas. You can also make up a cedar oil spray to apply to surfaces and behind kitchen cabinets.
Cinnamon is another great home remedy to get rid of silverfish as it will not only fill your house with a pleasant fragrance, but silverfish can’t stand it. Put cinnamon sticks in the drawers, cabinets of the kitchen, bathroom etc. (6).
5. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits serve as an excellent silverfish remedy. The essential oils in citrus fruit are one of nature’s many natural insect repellents. Keep changing the peels from time to time as their potency fades with time.
Alternatively, botanical insecticides like Limonene can also be used. These insecticides are made from citrus oils of lemon and other citrus fruit peels (7).
6. Naphthalene Balls
Naphthalene balls will protect your clothes from a moth infestation but they also work on silverfish. Place them in your closets and bookstores. Unlike citrus peel, naphthalene balls are toxic to silverfish. (8, 9).
Cucumber is certainly the more unusual home remedy for silverfish. Silverfish do not like the smell of cucumber at all. As with citrus peel, spread cucumber peel around affected areas. Replace when the peel has fully dried out.
8. Whole Cloves
Cloves contain Eugenol which is a natural insecticide and it is widely used to get rid of a variety of household pests (10). You can use whole cloves to get rid of silverfish if eugenol is unavailable. Place whole cloves near cracks, holes, and damp and dark places.
9. Table Salt
Table salt is another home remedy to kill silverfish. These little bugs cannot resist the salt, ingest far too much and eventually die due to dehydration. This remedy may take some time to work, but it is quite effective. Sprinkle salt around cracks and crevices where the silverfish are active. Epsom salt can also be used.
10. Homemade Trap
You can use a self-made trap to catch the silverfish. Take a mason jar and wrap it with a masking tape from outside. The masking tape will help the insects climb up into the jar. Put a piece of food (wet paper, cotton, bread, etc.) inside the jar. Tempted by the food, the silverfish will climb into the jar, but due to the lack of purchase on the inside of the glass, will be unable to escape. (11).
- Alternatively, take a newspaper and dampen it. Roll it and place rubber bands at both ends. The moist paper is a perfect meal for them. Simply discard the damp paper, (complete with silverfish) the next day. Repeat until no more silverfish become trapped which will indicate that your infestation is over.
11. Silica gel
Herbal Remedies to get rid of Silverfish
12. Sage, Eucalyptus and Basil Leaves
Many herbs are natural remedies to get rid of silverfish. (14) Spread the leaves of sage, eucalyptus, basil, and rosemary near affected areas to deter the insects. If you don’t feel like spreading leaves around your house, make herbal sachets.
13. Camphor Tree
Camphor plant is used as an insecticide and is another remedy for natural silverfish control. Grow a camphor tree in your garden, and use the dried leaves against the insects.
14. Lavender Oil
Another essential oil that has insect repelling properties is lavender oil. Take a tsp lavender oil and pour it into a spray bottle half filled with water. Mix well. Use it to wipe the surfaces and other areas where ythey silverfish are active.
Note- Do not use it on the fabric as it can cause damage to the cloth.
- Seal the cracks and crevices in the pipes, windows, and walls (15).
- Keep the basements, roof spaces and other places clean and dry (16, 17).
- Regularly clean cupboards and cabinets where you keep your clothes and food items (18, 19).
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in the home (20, 21).
- Store the food items in an air-tight container (22).
- Clean dirty clothes and do not leave them to fester
- Placing objects in the sun, airing them periodically, will help remove the moisture and keep a check on the development of silverfish (23).