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Silverfish Control

Silverfish are slender, wingless insects, shiny silver in appearance, approximately 10mm long with three, long bristletails at the end of their body.
They can be found in moist places such as kitchens and bathrooms, underneath floors, sinks, in cupboards, and along pipes where they hide during the day and feed during the night.
They are extremely fast runners and are sometimes seen trapped in wash hand basins or baths where they are unable to climb out. Silverfish are scavengers and can cause damage in the home by eating materials such as wallpaper, or books and other materials that are high in protein, sugar, starch, cereals. They are easily controlled with sprays.

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  • You will usually be able to deal with silverfish on a DIY basis


  • deal with the dampness and humidity problems that have caused silverfish to take up residence
  • remove all habitat from the area that silverfish love to live in, boxes, papers etc.
  • use a vacuum cleaner to remove all debris from the area

Non-chemical treatment:

  • where there are dry conditions behind skirting, under floorboards etc. dust lightly with a silica type dust, such as Oa2ki Powder
  • where the conditions are too damp to use a dust, use a non-chemical spray, such as Oa2ki Spray

Chemical treatment:

  • where there are dry conditions behind skirting, under floorboards etc. dust lightly with an insecticidal dust such as Residex P
  • where the conditions are to damp to use a dust, use a chemical spray such as Protector C

Use pesticides safely and always read and understand the label

Silverfish are a very common household intruder. They do not carry germs or spread disease and so their presence does not constitute a risk to health


  • Silverfish are long, slim, scaly, segmented, wingless insects
  • about 12mm (0.5 inches) in length and are silvery and glistening in appearance
  • with a pair of long fine antennae at the front and three tail-like appendages at the rear
  • they feed on gums and glues of bookbinding, fragments of dead insects and may also eat textiles such as cotton and linen
  • they seldom damage fibres of animal origin such as wool or hair

Life cycle:

  • Silverfish females may lay over 100 eggs during a lifetime
  • they lay them in damp and warm places such as cracks and crevices or behind skirting boards
  • the eggs hatch after two to eight weeks depending upon conditions
  • newly hatched insects are about 2mm long and look like miniature adults
  • they live for between three or four months in warm humid conditions, but for between two and three years in cooler, dryer areas.

The presence of silverfish is an indication of damp conditions.

  • Silverfish are found in fairly moist areas ie kitchens, larders and mainly in bathrooms and basements
  • they can also be found in books and paper, damp cupboards, behind skirting boards and loose wallpaper
  • tell tale signs of silverfish include scales, excrement or yellowish stains on paper or fabric
  • they feed mainly on small food particles and the paste on the back of wallpaper that has become detached

They are nocturnal and move very rapidly when disturbed - just turning on a light can make them run for cover.

The insects and their eggs can be brought into the home in cardboard boxes, books, papers, starched and rayon fabrics and other carbohydrate materials.

Preventing silverfish from living in your home is mostly a case of controlling the environment to make it uncomfortable for them:

  • reduce available water and lower the humidity in the home with dehumidifiers and fans
  • repair leaking plumbing and make sure areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are well ventilated
  • remove old boxes and stacks of papers, magazines, books and fabrics
  • keep your home clean and free from damp


  • seal all cracks and crevices with a suitable sealant compound or decorators caulk