Silverfish prefer to stay in the dark, which is why you often don’t even know when you have an infestation. Then one day you pick up a book from the shelf only to find that the pages have tiny holes and strange yellowing stains all over it. Read on as we look at the ways you can identify if your home has been infested by silverfish, including looking for silverfish droppings in your home.
What Do Silverfish Droppings Look Like?
Since silverfish are rarely ever seen by people, one of the main ways to look for them is through their feces. Silverfish droppings resemble small whole peppercorns. Look for these within the pages of your books, among newspapers, magazines, near walls covered in wallpaper, in dark, damp spaces such as the basement, bathroom corners, etc.
Where to Look for Silverfish Droppings
Knowing what foods silverfish eat and where they live is a starting point for you to look for their droppings. Silverfish eat foods containing starches, which include paper, glue, book bindings, grains and cereals, sugary treats, green vegetables, money, and so on. Once they’ve eaten, they are likely to return to their hiding spots.
Silverfish like dark, humid spaces which can include any small cracks or openings in the floors or walls, the attic, the basement, the crawlspace under your house, in the dark corners of your bathroom, and so on.
You might find droppings inside books, on bookshelves, on the kitchen counter, and other spaces where they either hide out in or go to in search of food. Silverfish also eat starchy fabrics so look through your closet for clothes that have stains or holes in them.
For more on silverfish dietary habits, click here.
Other Signs of a Silverfish Infestation
If you fear that your house might be infested with silverfish, there are a few more clues they leave behind other than their droppings. These include:
Silverfish have scale-covered bodies. From time to time, they shed their scales, which can be identified by their silvery hue and delicate nature. Note that silverfish usually grow to a length of around half an inch so anything larger than that might be something else.
If these pests have invaded your books, chances are they’ll leave behind nasty yellow-white stains on the pages they eat. While most people overlook such stains, especially if they are old books, they might be a sign that you’re dealing with a bug infestation.
While silverfish are not poisonous and don’t pose a serious threat to humans, they can damage your house and property. You’re in trouble if the infestation is on your bookshelf, creeping behind your wallpaper or if the bugs have made their way into your kitchen where they can eat for food and leave their droppings in it for you to enjoy.
Silverfish are also likely to cause trouble for people with allergies who may face breathing difficulties due to shedding scales.
Silverfish eggs are usually very tiny and hidden away in their secret spots, which is why people don’t actually see them. However, if you come across very tiny yellowish-white bulb-shaped drops inside your books, they might be silverfish eggs.
How to Prevent a Silverfish Infestation
If you fear that you have a silverfish infestation, here are some precautions to follow. These precautions are suitable to get rid of a minor infestation or to keep silverfish out if they haven’t made their way into your home yet.
Air out Your House
If you live in a very humid area, turn on the air conditioner or a dehumidifier frequently to keep the air in your house clean and moisture-free.
Clean Your House Regularly
Don’t store any unnecessary magazines, newspapers, or books in your house. Apart from that, regularly vacuum your entire house, including the basement and the attic to make sure there are no crumbs or dead insects for the silverfish to feed on.
Dry and clean your bathroom after every use so that there is no dirt or moisture to attract silverfish.
Check Any New Books Coming In
If you’re buying books, especially pre-used ones, check for signs of a silverfish infestation. This includes sifting through the pages and looking at the binder for silverfish droppings, dead silverfish, and any yellowing stains.
If you know or suspect that they are infested, place the books in a plastic bag and freeze them for 24 hours. Then dust the book thoroughly to get rid of any silverfish remnants and eggs, dry off any moisture left behind from their stay in the freezer and place them on your bookshelf.
Store Books Properly
For books that are not in use and kept in your storage space, they should be kept in clean, airtight containers in a dry, non-humid space. Plastic boxes are better for storage than cardboard ones since silverfish can eat their way through these and get to the books inside.
If there are any open nooks and cracks in your home, use caulk to seal them since silverfish might sneak in through these to enter your home.
Check Grocery Bags
Silverfish are attracted to many foods, including dry pasta, dry pet food, cereal, and so on. If you’re going grocery shopping, check the grocery bags for any silverfish that might be hiding out and dispose of them far away from your house.
How to Get Rid of a Silverfish Infestation on Your Own
No one likes having silverfish droppings in their books or floating around in their morning cereal. If the infestation is on a minor scale, you can try some home remedies to get rid of them:
Set up Silverfish Traps
To make a silverfish trap, find a clean mason jar, tape the entire outside of the jar, add some crumbs inside and set it in places where the silverfish are likely to be lurking, such as openings or near your bookshelf at night. Due to the friction of the tape, they’ll be able to climb in but they won’t be able to escape and you can dump them out in the morning.
If you want a fail-safe jar trap, add boric acid or diatomaceous earth (DE), both of which can kill silverfish upon contact. If you are using any toxic materials, make sure to keep the traps out of reach of children and pets.
Note: When using traps that contain food, be mindful that you replace them frequently to avoid creating infestations of other insects like cockroaches that may be attracted by the same bait.
To find out how to kill silverfish with DE, click here.
Use Natural Ingredients to Ward off Silverfish
Silverfish are repelled by a range of natural ingredients like cinnamon, citrus, scents like lavender, etc. Cinnamon shavings or citrus pouches can be placed in the bathroom, on bookshelves, and left behind on kitchen counters to repel silverfish.
Try Commercial Pesticides
If home remedies are not working, either keep a pesticide spray handy and click the bugs wherever you see them or sprinkled powdered pesticide in silverfish hotspots.
Silverfish may also be attracted to fabrics that contain starch – this means that your clothes aren’t safe either. When trying to get rid of silverfish, make sure you don’t directly use any toxic materials like pesticide or boric acid on your clothes. Placing traps or citrus pouches nearby is a better option.
Get Rid of Your Silverfish Infestation Permanently
Once you’re sure that you have a silverfish infestation, either through discovering their droppings, their dead bodies, or the holes left in your books, you need to find ways to get rid of them. If your precautions and other remedies don’t work, it’s time to call an exterminator. To keep your house silverfish-free permanently, keep following the precautions mentioned above even after an exterminator has handled the job.
What do silverfish look like?
While people don’t generally see silverfish, they sometimes die within the pages of your book or other spaces, especially if you’ve sprinkled some pesticide out of suspicion. If you find such an insect lying around, you can identify it by its flat, scaly body, which is around half an inch (or at most, three-fourth of an inch) long. They are also easily recognized by the three antennas on their rear end and two at the front.
Do silverfish bite?
Silverfish are scared of humans and it is highly unlikely that they will bite you. However, if you are bitten by a silverfish, you’ll be able to notice small red dots on your skin. They may bite you at night when they are most active.
Is a silverfish bite harmful?
Although silverfish are not poisonous to humans, their bites can cause an allergic reaction, such as causing your asthma to flare up, nose inflammation, and general itching and inflammation in the bitten area. Your pets are also safe from silverfish and in fact, cats may hunt down and kill silverfish.