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What is the Best Method of Silverfish Extermination?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

Finding the best method of silverfish extermination usually requires a basic understanding of the insect’s feeding and nesting habits. Silverfish typically feed off of starch or glue-based materials and often enter a structure in search of moisture. Silverfish usually nest in dark, out-of-the-way areas such as pantries, wallpaper, boxes, books, and cabinets. They are often brought into a home in books and cardboard boxes, but may also enter through gaps around plumbing. A combination of several different silverfish extermination methods generally works best.

Silverfish are very common in Europe, North America, and Australia and resemble tiny, silver-colored fish. These insects eat starch and glue-based materials and require a good source of moisture for survival. They have been known to live in homes for up to one year without eating. Effective silverfish extermination typically requires the removal of all sources of food and moisture. A paste made of flour and water may be used as bait to draw the insects out of their hiding places for extermination.

Talcum powder can help get rid of silverfish.
Talcum powder can help get rid of silverfish.

The primary locations of the insects must be determined before beginning any type of silverfish extermination. Inspect all pantries, closets, plumbing cabinets, cardboard items, and books for signs of infestation. Repair all plumbing leaks and seal the gaps around them with expandable foam to get rid of excess moisture. Replace cardboard boxes with plastic bags and containers to eliminate food sources. Seal any separated wallpaper seams and install additional lighting in dark areas to take away hiding places.

Cardboard boxes encourage silverfish.
Cardboard boxes encourage silverfish.

A combination of two particularly effective methods can be used to provide the best silverfish extermination results. The first method is spreading ordinary talcum powder along baseboards and corners. As noted above, Silverfish require a sufficient amount of moisture to stay alive. The powder will usually absorb most of the moisture from their bodies when they come into contact with it. Borax powder can be twice as effective by poisoning the silverfish as well. Plain powder may also be placed inside of cabinets and pantries.

Small, portable insect traps, the second method, should also be used in combination with powder for comprehensive silverfish extermination. These traps typically have a sticky, glue-like surface and are known to attract silverfish. Once inside, the silverfish are immobilized by the glue and can be easily disposed of. These nonpoisonous traps can be placed in food storage and preparation areas with no adverse effects. It is best to leave the powder and traps in place for at least a month to allow any silverfish eggs to hatch.

Discussion Comments


To exterminate the silverfish as well as harmful pests from home, the best method one can go with the healthy extermination is the hiring a pest control service. A professional pest control exterminator knows all the safety measures and can safely remove pests from the home.


You could always try Diatomaceous Earth.


@turquoise-- Have you checked your kitchen sink and drain for damage? Fixing damage and cleaning up water should be enough to kill silverfish.


@turquoise-- If you don't want to use chemicals, the best way to exterminate silverfish and prevent them from coming back is to make the environment inhospitable to them.

You can do this by de-humidifying your home, keeping the house clean and storing things like newspapers and books in closed containers or zip-loc bags without openings.

Silverfish cannot live in dry environments and if they can't find food, they will have to move on.


My cabinets are full of silverfish. It seems like they came suddenly with spring. I've already cleaned all the cabinets and placed talcum powder. But they're still there!

I don't want to use pesticides and I don't want to deal with traps. Is there anything else I can do get rid of them?

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    • Talcum powder can help get rid of silverfish.
      By: fet
      Talcum powder can help get rid of silverfish.
    • Cardboard boxes encourage silverfish.
      By: imstock
      Cardboard boxes encourage silverfish.