Silverfish are common indoor insects that can invade various parts of your home, especially the bathroom. While they are normally harmless and not destructive, in large numbers, silverfish can cause discomfort, allergies and damage to some of your items.
To get rid of silverfish from your bathroom, you can use traps, or chemically destroy them using household bleach and other chemicals. You can also use repellents to naturally send them away from your house.
Read for details including what attracts silverfish to your bathroom, the possible dangers of an infestation and tips to prevent them.
What are Silverfish?
Silverfish, scientifically known as Lepisma saccharinum, are a species of small wingless nocturnal insects that infest your bathroom and other areas in your house.
Silverfish get their name from the color of their scales, which are silver or metallic brown, combined with the fish-like appearance of their movements.
They have a shiny, teardrop-shaped body with two antennae and three long bristles at the tail end. This six-legged insect is often mistaken for a centipede and can grow between 13–25 mm (0.5–1.0 in) long.
They eat matter that contains polysaccharides, which include glue, paper, sugar, hair, carpet, and dandruff.
Bristletails are another name for silverfish because they have three long bristles on the end of their body or paper fish, since they feed on starch in papers.
Why Silverfish in My Bathroom-What Attracts them?
Silverfish prefer wetness, gloom, and silence. Because of these conditions, restrooms are the perfect area for silverfish to hide, sleep, and reproduce. This is the main reason the bathroom attracts silverfish.
Silverfish feed off sugars and starches, and some of your bathroom essentials contain these ingredients, which might be why they are also attracted to the bathroom. For instance, toilet paper contains starch, and you might be using sugar scrubs in the bath too.
Causes of silverfish in the bathroom
Silverfish may infest your bathroom due to the following reasons:
Damp conditions in the bathroom: if surfaces in the bathroom are often moist and not dry, then silverfish are likely to get into your bathroom.
Dark and warm spaces: If your toilet has many warm and moist spaces, an attractive breeding ground for silverfish, they can start invading your space.
Lack of cleanliness: The lack of strict cleanliness in the bathroom can also attract silverfish inside your space. Dirt and crumbs in your bathroom are like inviting silverfish to feast on your area and take refuge there.
Where Silverfish Hide in the Bathroom
These insects love damp, warm and dark places. In the bathroom, you may find them in the following places :
- Bathroom drains since they love the darkness, moisture, and warmth of the bathroom drains.
- Wall cracks and crevices because they are dark
- Under the carpet, since it is dark and warm
- Pipes since they are dark, warm and always moist.
- Under clothes and fabrics which are present in the bathroom.
How to get Rid of Silverfish in Bathroom Naturally
There are several natural remedies that you can use to get rid of silverfish. You can either use the natural food or organic products available that irritate and repel the silverfish, or you can use traps to get rid of them.
Setting up of Traps
As for setting up the traps, there are various ways you can set them up,
The Jar Method
What you need for this method is a jar and bait, which can be food that attracts silverfish, like bread.
Put small bread pieces inside the jar and tape the outside part of the jar with paper tape. The jar can be slippery, and the tape helps them crawl through the jar and get inside it.
Place the jar where you spot the silverfish hiding in your bathroom.
The idea behind this silverfish trap is for the pests to climb on the jar searching for food. But once they fall inside the jar, they get trapped because the inside is slippery, preventing them from getting out.
The Newspaper Method
Another efficient way to get rid of silverfish is using an old newspaper that this pest loves.
Roll a piece of old newspaper and use rubber bands to hold both ends, so they don’t unfold.
Moisten the newspaper roll a bit and leave it where the silverfish frequent in your bathroom.
Wait for the silverfish to feed on the newspaper and hide inside it. Eventually, they get trapped in the rolled paper.
Leave it for at least 24 hours, and do not forget to throw it away afterward. You can do this trick for several days until you are confident that there are no silverfish in your bathroom anymore.
Mix flour and water into a paste with or without boric acid.
Next, apply the paste to an index card or a wallet-size piece of cardboard.
Allow the paste to dry to a sticky consistency, then place the trap in a spot where you have seen silverfish or suspect they may be hiding.
Check it frequently.
Since Silverfish feed on starch, they are attracted by the flour and eventually stick to the paste.
Essential Oils and Other Natural Repellents
There are many all-natural, organic, and non-toxic compounds that repel silverfish. While they aren’t going to kill them, they can help you starve out an infestation by repelling the insects. These repellents include:
Cedar oil and cedar shavings are common natural insecticides. Silverfish do not like the woody smell of cedar shavings. This smell irritates them and this makes them run away.
Put cedar shavings and/or oil in the infected areas. The silverfish get irritated because of the smell and eventually evade the bathroom.
Dried Bay Leaves
The oils and aroma of bay leaves make them a useful way to get rid of silverfish in certain areas.
For this method:
Crush the leaves into small pieces or powder or grab a few dried bay leaves and place them anywhere you’ve seen silverfish signs in the bathroom.
The oils in bay leaves repel silverfish and have proven to be powerful pest deterrents.
Silverfish also despise the smell of cinnamon.
Put ground cinnamon, cinnamon oil or cinnamon sticks in infected areas and watch your bathroom become free of silverfish and the smell of cinnamon drives them away.
The citrus scent of orange and lemon peel repels silverfish.
If you use peel, you must replace it regularly. You can also make a citrus spray using lemon juice and water and spray the area.
Silverfish also hate the smell of cucumber. It can be used as citrus fruit peels.
Dried cloves contain eugenol, which repels silverfish. Place whole cloves in the infected area.
Salt attracts silverfish. Eating it causes them to become dehydrated and die. Salt also absorbs dampness in the area, which makes silverfish evade the area, as they love moisture.
How to Kill Silverfish with Chemicals Once and for All
You can chemically kill silverfish in your bathroom using killer insecticides or household chemicals such as bleach. Following are details
This method helps stop silverfish from breeding.
For this method, follow the steps given:
Pour a good amount of bleach where silverfish may likely be hiding, like in drains and sinks.
Leave it throughout the night before flushing the drain and sink with water.
This is an all-natural powder that is produced from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae or remains of plankton. It looks like talc powder. This substance is also effective against many types of insects. The fossilized diatoms that make up this insecticide are sharp and hence cut the exoskeleton of the insect.
To use it against silverfish:
Sprinkle the powder in your bathroom around the usual hiding spots of silverfish. Include the corners and the carpets if you have them in your bath.
Leave the powder overnight before you vacuum it the next day.
Boric Acid & Borax
Boric acid and borax are two different formulations of the same compound. while Borax is a mineral that is taken straight from the ground (a form of the element Boron) and usually used in cleaning products, boric acid is its extracted, processed and refined form
You can use both of these formulations to eliminate silverfish effectively, but remember to handle them with care since they can cause skin irritation. Have a good pair of gloves and goggles.
Pour a boric acid solution around sinks, drains, and under your bathtub.
Sprinkle it on cracks and crevices where you spotted any silverfish in your bathroom.
For borax, sprinkle it behind books, in crevices, in cabinets and closets, on windowsills and under carpets where silverfish are.
Leave the borax indefinitely. The silverfish like its sweet taste, crawl through it, then eat the substance while grooming their legs. Unlike other pesticides, the continued presence of borax also kills larvae and discourages re-infestation.
propoxur is like pyrethrin in that it’s effective against a variety of insects, silverfish included. But while both kill adult silverfish on contact, neither one works to eradicate eggs. For that reason, using propoxur often requires a sustained campaign, particularly in the case of severe infestations.
Sprays that include the following ingredients can be effective against silverfish. These include:synergized pyrethrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, tetramethrin and phenothrin.
Insecticides that contain pyrethrin liquid are also effective against silverfish. Follow these steps to use it against those wiggly pests.
Spray the insecticide wherever you think the silverfish are hiding around your bathroom.
Make sure you cover and spray their common hiding spots.
When using this insecticide, keep your pets or little kids out of the bathroom for a few hours, as it can be highly poisonous.
Like all insects, silverfish can be managed through various poisonous pest control methods. Foggers, bombs, and targeted sprays are all options for coping with a silverfish infestation.
Silverfish is a hard insect to get rid of and for this reason, it is better to prevent and ensure it never comes to your house, or it never comes back again if it was there.
There are various ways to keep silverfish away from your bathroom. These include:
Reducing the number of environments suitable for silverfish to live in is an easy way of preventing them from entering the home.
Removing piles of wet leaves and keeping wood off the ground and away from the home can encourage silverfish to find shelter elsewhere.
Sealing up any gaps, cracks, and holes in basements, attics, foundations, or outer walls can prevent silverfish from finding way into the home.
Eliminating any damp areas in the home can also discourage silverfish from settling inside.
Keeping basements, attics, bathrooms, and kitchens clean and dry may help prevent them from living in these rooms.
Use a dehumidifier to bring down the moisture content of the air in your home.
Remove food sources for silverfish, such as dust and debris, by cleaning out closets and cupboards and dusting bookshelves.
To prevent silverfish from getting into food products, store the products in glass or plastic airtight containers.
Earwigs, centipedes, and spiders are natural predators of silverfish. Letting house spiders remain in the home can keep the number of silverfish down naturally.
Are Silverfish Dangerous?
While they do not bite, sting or transmit diseases, in large numbers, silverfish can cause not only discomfort but also destroy your valuable belongings.
They feed on starch and hence can feed on any item that contains starch including tissue paper, books or magazines left in the bathroom, or even soap.
They can sometimes trigger a person’s allergies. The scales that silverfish shed contain a protein called tropomyosin, which can combine with other allergens and sometimes cause allergic reactions.
A person may also be allergic to silverfish droppings, yellow excrement, and skin molts.
Silverfish can also contaminate food products, such as flour and meat.
More on Insects, Bugs & Pests in the Bathroom
- How to Get Rid of Gnats in Bathroom Drains & Sinks
- Why Roaches in Bathroom- At Night, Baby & Adults- Get Rid & Prevent
- Fruit Flies in Bathroom-Why and How to Get Rid & Prevent
- Ants in Bathroom-Why, How to Get Rid & Prevent
- Little Tiny Black Worms in the Shower-Causes & How to Get Rid
- Brett, C. H. 1962. Damage by and control of silverfish and firebrats. Pest Control 30(10):75–78.
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