While silverfish are harmless for humans, they can be a menace in the house. Apart from being unsightly, they may be a sign of an unhygienic house and may encourage fungus growth. If you don’t know what they look like, silverfish are long, flat insects with antennas on both ends and scaly bodies. Read on as we explore the many reasons you have silverfish in your home, why they are attracted to fungus, and how their presence can further encourage the growth of mold and fungus.
Why Are Silverfish Attracted to Fungus?
Silverfish have a very diverse diet since they enjoy any food with starchy and/or sugary content. Apart from eating dried foods, grains, and paper, they also eat mold (fungus). If the structure of your house consists of wood that is exposed to moisture, it may grow soft and develop fungus, which in turn becomes a breeding ground for silverfish. This may occur if you live in an area that receives plenty of rainfall and the foundation of your house allows the water to sediment in the corners for a long period.
If you are noticing silverfish in your house, it’s a good time to raise alarm bells. This is because if the silverfish were attracted by the mold and moisture, then there are probably other insects like termites and cockroaches not far behind since these conditions are conducive for many disgusting pests.
Silverfish Also Like Dandruff
While we’re on the subject of fungus, silverfish may also be attracted to the fungus in your hair! If you have a scalp condition that encourages the growth of fungus, this eventually breaks down in the forms of small white flakes known as dandruff.
Silverfish have been known to eat dandruff, and if they’ve found their way into your house, you may find silverfish in your hair or they might even start roaming around your hairbrush and other hair care items!
How to Make Your House Silverfish-Proof
Regardless of whether you’re dealing with a silverfish infestation or you just want to be prepared for the worst, here are some ways to keep your house bug-free:
Scan your entire house for signs of nooks and corners where there is standing water, softwood, or other sources of dampness. For any small cracks and openings, fill them up with caulk. If there is a fungus growing in these, you will need to clean the area out first, preferably with a vinegar solution, allow it to dry completely, and then fill it up.
For any woodwork in the house that has become moldy, you may be able to get away with a vinegar cleanse or you’ll need to replace the wood completely depending on the extent of the damage. If the fungus is only on the surface, you can clean it up. If the wood has softened and started to rot, it will need to be replaced.
Since moisture and humidity encourage the growth of fungus, it’s a good idea to ventilate your home properly. You may need to turn on the air conditioner or a dehumidifier to keep the air dry and clean.
For more on how to get rid of the fungus in your home, click here.
Books that are stored in humid spaces are also susceptible to mold and become the ultimate meal for silverfish. Make sure to clean your bookshelf regularly. If any books are not in use, seal them properly and store them in dry, plastic containers in a well-ventilated place.
How to Clean Mold off Books
If you have any old (or new) books that have been damaged by fungus and mildew, they may still be salvageable. Place wax paper between the pages of the book and dab each page with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and alcohol to remove the mold and then allow the pages to dry – you can use a fan to speed up this process.
If you suspect that your books may be infested by silverfish, freeze them for 24 hours and dust the pages clean, air dry the books, and then place them back on your bookshelf.
For more on the right way to clean fungus off books, click here.
Clean up Regularly
Silverfish are attracted to fungus, but they also snack on dry foods like cereal and pasta as well as starchy paper-based items like books and wallpaper and even clothing. Make sure to clean your house frequently to get rid of any spilled crumbs and dust, store all your food in airtight containers, and frequently check your wallpaper and books for silverfish damage.
Keep Plants Away from Openings
Plants might look great and provide you with plenty of fresh oxygen, but they also require moisture to thrive which attracts silverfish. If you have any outdoor plants, make sure to keep them away from openings like doors and windows since they may attract silverfish. The same applies to any indoor plants.
How to Get Rid of Silverfish on Your Own
If you’ve confirmed that you have silverfish in your house, there are a few ways you can try and get rid of them:
Use Boric Acid
Boric acid is toxic for silverfish and damages their exoskeleton and kills them. Sprinkle it near openings and other areas where they are likely to appear. Make sure to keep the boric acid out of reach of children and pets since it is extremely dangerous if consumed.
Keep a Pesticide Handy
Keep an insecticide spray on stand-by and spray the silverfish as soon as you see any lurking around. A powdered pesticide may be sprinkled on the kitchen floor, near bookshelves, and more as a precautionary measure.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
DE has the power to kill silverfish and may be spread in areas where they live or come to eat in. This is a safer alternative to boric acid since it isn’t as toxic and dangerous for humans and animals.
Use Ingredients Disliked By Silverfish
Certain herbs and scents like lavender and cinnamon are strongly disliked by silverfish. These can be combined with water in a spray bottle or left in pouches around your bookshelf and other areas where these bugs may be lurking.
With any dry powders being used to kill silverfish, it’s a good idea to create a silverfish trap. Add some silverfish snacks in an empty jar wrapped in tape and put the boric acid or DE inside – once the silverfish get in, they won’t be able to get out.
Note that if you’re using any kind of food item in the jar traps, you need to be careful about where you place them and how frequently you empty them out. These snacks may attract other pests like roaches that eat just about anything. The last thing you need is another bug problem!
To learn how to kill silverfish by effectively using insect bait, click here.
Get Rid of Silverfish Permanently
If you notice a growing silverfish infestation at home, you may need to hire an exterminator to handle it. If the reason for their growing presence is the frequent occurrence of standing water and fungus, you may need to replace the woodwork in your house with some other, moisture-resistant material such as metal. If you keep your house clean, dry, and moisture-free, you can protect yourself and your belongings from silverfish.
How do I know if I have a silverfish infestation?
Since silverfish are nocturnal, you might not even see them. Check for the following signs to see if you have a silverfish infestation:
- Peppery flakes in the kitchen, on book pages, on your clothes, etc. These may be silverfish droppings.
- Holes in the wallpaper, books, clothing, and dried foods that look like they’ve been nibbled on.
- Yellowish white stains on paper.
- Growth of other insects in the house – silverfish become a meal for other insects like spiders and centipedes.
Where are silverfish generally found?
Silverfish prefer cool, dark, and humid spaces. They may be found inside cupboards, in the basement or the crawl space under your house, in the bathroom, in the laundry area, and inside books. Depending on what sources of food they’ve found in your house, they’ll stay close to that.
Are silverfish dangerous?
Silverfish rarely bite human beings, and when they do, the bite is not poisonous. While they don’t present an obvious risk for humans, they may cause breathing difficulties for people with allergies or asthma since they shed dead skin from time to time. They also attract other pests in the house that may be dangerous such as spiders.