Southern California’s Ant & Termite Specialists since 1931
San DiegoOrange CountyRiversidePalm Springs/Desert CitiesSan BernardinoLos Angeles

Something’s fishy, but it’s not fish at all. Rather, it’s silverfish, a notorious nuisance pest. As sneaky little insects, they become a problem for Southern California homeowners when they flock to humid places indoors. Once there, they can be destructive to household property – and it doesn’t help that they’re hard to get rid of either. Learn more about this pesky fish-like creature and the best ways to thwart infestations in your home.

A Fish-Like Appearance

Part of the Zygentoma family along with the firebrat, the silverfish features three bristles at the bottom of its body. As its name suggests, it’s silver in color, and most are around half an inch in length (smaller than a dime). Because their legs are thin, they may appear to be crawling along without limbs – similar to a fish. In addition to their striking color and bristles, you’re likely to identify them by their two long antennae and wriggling movements.

Silverfish are wingless insects with six legs and two antennae that guide them as they move. Their bodies taper and curve near the end, giving them both the appearance and motions of a fish.

Why They Infest

Silverfish love humidity, and your home may provide them with plenty of it. The insect’s scientific name, L. saccharina, reflects its diet of polysaccharides, or carbohydrates. They eat products found in pantries like flour and oats, as well as ordinary items like paper and clothing. Combining their preferred climate conditions with their sugar- and starch-based diet, you’re apt to have infestations pop up in the following spots:

  • Bathroom: They love the moist conditions around the sink and bathtub.
  • Basement/Attic: They look for cluttered spots in which to hide, as well as paper and clothing to eat.
  • Kitchen: They prefer moist conditions around the sink, and seek pantry items to eat.

How They Infest

Most silverfish infestations begin outside. In Southern California’s winter when the weather is wetter and more humid, it may as well be a silverfish paradise. They find their way inside as they look for similar conditions; the controlled climate and variety of dark, uninhabited spots help them sustain populations. This environment also allows them to stick around when the weather becomes drier in the summer.

Silverfish can get into homes in a few different ways. Most commonly, they do so by squeezing through cracks and openings – remember, they’re smaller than a dime. They’re also known to crawl into boxes and bins that are brought into the home, letting them set up shop where the items are later stored (common places include basements, attics, and garages).

Silverfish sustain indoor colonies as they: 1) Get inside via openings in the home or boxes that are carried in 2) Gather in dark, moist, and humid places with access to food 3) Increase population size by laying eggs in cracks and crevices.

Their Assets, Your Obstacle

Silverfish’s meager proportions are big in helping them get in and live in our homes. In addition to that, they also have several other beneficial characteristics that support infestations and population growth. With their antennae helping them feel their way, they run fast (often with a stop-and-go motion), letting them get away from predators and quickly escape our view.

They may make a mad dash when they need to, but silverfish are still secretive creatures. They’re nocturnal, preferring the dark, and usually only seek out food while we’re asleep. In addition to staying in lesser-inhabited locations, they’re known to hang out in nooks and crannies, where females lay eggs. Put it all together, and they can live and reproduce right under our noses without us even knowing it.

A Few Potential Problems

Silverfish cause a multitude of problems once inside. Most of their effects are mild, but they can become detrimental over a long period of time. Here are the most frustrating issues they cause for homeowners:

  • Damage items: With a taste for household items like paper, glue, and cotton, silverfish can be quite destructive to many of your belongings.
  • Endanger our health: Although they don’t spread viruses, they often trigger allergic reactions and spread harmful bacteria.
  • Attract other pests: Pests above them in the food chain, including spiders, earwigs, centipedes, and carpet beetles, are lured inside with silverfish as bait.
  • Reproduce quickly: Their eggs hatch in as few as 20 days, exponentially expanding their populations and the problems they cause.

Creating a Silverfish-Free Zone

Surefire silverfish prevention tips: 1) Make things less hospitable by removing moisture and cleaning potential hiding places 2) Stow away sustenance by keeping food containers sealed and getting rid of messes and dirty dishes.

If your home offers silverfish the conditions they crave, the best way to combat them is by eliminating humidity and potential hiding places. Install a dehumidifier to dry out damp areas, and get leaky pipes and dripping faucets fixed. Check potential habitats for any signs of their presence (again, they’re sneaky), cleaning at-risk areas frequently. To prevent them from getting in at all, seal entry points and install covers on vents.

When it comes to food, keep containers (specifically, of flour, sugar, and oats) closed and clean up any spills or crumbs. If you currently store paper items like books, magazines, and files in the basement or attic, consider moving them elsewhere to avoid supporting silverfish. Without food sources, the insects will starve, forcing them to move elsewhere.

DIY: A Not-So-Effective Choice

If silverfish have infested your home, setting traps, baits, or pesticides, seems like an obvious solution. Yet, do-it-yourself pest control is only beneficial when dealing with a few insects. Trapping them in inescapable glass jars or with sticky traps is only a temporary reprieve. With silverfish’s isolated lifestyle and high reproduction rates, populations usually need help from professionals to guarantee full eradication from your home.

The Right Company for Silverfish Control

When you and your family are tired of living alongside silverfish, the experts at Lloyd Pest Control are ready to remove this nuisance pest once and for all. With the right technicians for the job, we’ll assess your infestation, then apply treatments to eliminate adults and eggs from your home. Let us be your silver lining when dealing with silverfish. If you need help eliminating this insect (or another irritating pest) in Southern California, contact us and get a free quote.