How to get rid of silverfish with diatomaceous earth(+bonus tips)

Dave Campbell

Discover perhaps the best way to kill these creatures in your home, plus some extra tips for clearing them our completely.

To treat a silverfish problem with diatomaceous earth, sprinkle the powder in areas where they are found in your home. The powder particles have rough edges that cut through the body of silverfish, therefore killing them when they crawl over it.

This is a food grade powdery substance which can be used in eliminating silverfish. It is best in killing many crawling organisms, including these household pests. Sprinkle the powder in the dark areas of the house such as cracks and crevices, cabinets and along the baseboards.

Diatomaceous earth is characterized by sharp edges which if these beasties come in contact, their exoskeletons is punctured thus killing them and you can then remove the dead insects. When applying, ensure that you use a mask as the powder may cause some negative effects to you. In a short period, all these organisms will be no more.

picture of diatomaceous earth

Silverfish bugs are grayish blue harmless serpentine organisms found in gardens and can find their way into the house. They are unfriendly and unpleasant when in the apartment. They are notorious in eating books and other sugary substances they come across .

These pests do well in wet and similar to cockroaches, love dark places which can lead to an infestation. Because of the damages caused and their unpleasantness, it is important to treat them properly. Here are some extra strategies which can be employed, including the following:-

Making powder traps

Find out their resting place

Because silverfish are nocturnal, they can be hard to find during the day and can only be located from their excrement. This is what they leave behind when they damage books and starchy materials in the house. Isolate dark and damp areas in the house, then you will either find small holes on clothing or yellowish stains on the clothes. The holes and yellowish stains can also be found on cereals, cardboard boxes and this will be an indication that they live around there.

get rid of silverfish photograph for blogpost

Finally they are known to shedding their skin, by following tiny parts of their skin, it will help in tracking and trapping them.  They go through 17 to 66 moults in their lifetimes overall. After locating them, you can trap them with a homemade silverfish trap. Find out – are silverfish dangerous?

The homemade trap can be modified by wrapping its outside with a tape (masking) and then placing diatomaceous earth or some pieces of bread in the container. The tape enables a silverfish bug to climb and fall into the jar. The container is then left at some point where you had located them. They will climb the glass and then fall into it in order to eat bread. As they fed more and more will be joining and when you come to check, you will find them inside and kill them. Remember, the inside of the glass will be slippery hence difficulty to escape.

Newspaper traps can also be used to keep silverfish out of your house. The newspapers can be wrapped together and one part tied with a rubber band. Moisten the other end and let the paper trap rest on the areas where you had located them. They will come and feed on the newspapers and since the paper will provide food and shelter, they will eat and sleep there.

The shelter and warmth of you home is what causes them to come inside in the first place.The following day throw the paper out without unfolding them or you can burn them for effective pest control.

Silverfish Sticky traps

These are already made traps which can be accessed from a hardware store. The traps are made in such a way that they are sticky, a feature important in trapping these creatures. The traps are put at specific points where the organisms hide especially in dark spots, such as kitchen cabinets, and wet areas like laundry rooms. When they start moving around at night, they will come out of their hiding places and make their way onto the trap and they will stick there. Small pieces of starch or bread can be placed on the traps to act as bait. Put some masking tape around the outside to help them climb up. After trapping them, you can kill them with a lot of ease.

Use of repellants and insecticides

Chemicals can be used as another strategy of eliminating and extermination of silverfish from the home. There are many chemicals that are available in stores that can effectively help in removing them out of your home and may include:-

Boric acid

This is another natural substance commonly used in getting rid of them from your apartment. Boric acid is effective in killing both the eggs and mature insects. It is applied by sprinkling it in dark areas such as baseboards, bathroom, bathtub and other areas where you may have tracked them to. When the acid comes into contact with silverfish, it will kill them. It is recommended that boric acid be used carefully because if it is inhaled, it has negative effects to the lungs.

There are other sprays and chemicals which can be employed in killing them including, lavender spray, spice sachets, cedar shavings, and liquid pyrethrin among others. Remember, the chemicals used to repel silverfish may vary from place to place as their use is normally regulated. This is because some may cause adverse effects to people hence professionals may be need to apply them. Go through the label of any chemical you want to buy to get rid of silverfish to understand the procedure and any associated risks.

Prevent these insects from coming back to the house

After the above procedures for dealing with this pest problem, it is important to prevent their return. This can be achieved in the following ways:-

Dehumidifying the house

Silverfish love dark damp places around your home and if this wetness continues, chances are that after killing them they will return soon with a fresh infestation. Reducing humidity in the house is a sure way of preventing them from resurfacing. Purchase a dehumidifier and use it in reducing humidity or use the air conditioner or keep the fan on most of the times. This device will draw water droplets out of the air in a room. This will automatically reduce the amount of damp places and moisture in the home thus prevent them from returning.

dehumidifier photo

Remove food from the floor

For proper pest control, food sources, books and any other materials must be cleared from the floor. Never pile books on the floor and dirty clothes on the floor as they are likely to attract these insects into your home. Keep food sources in sealed containers made from plastic rather than wood. Beware that silverfish can find their way into cardboard cereal boxes. Old wallpapers must be replaced in order to prevent them from returning, and if you are in possession of old clothes or out of date clothes, place them in plastic bags in order to prevent invasion by silverfish. To prevent further infestations, you should do all that you can to keep particles and crumbs away from them, and keep your food source in a glass jar, glass container or storage boxes..

Vacuum your house

Vacuuming your house will reduce the food for silverfish and also suck their eggs from the carpet and any other place where they may be deposited thus denying them a good environment to flourish

When I had problems with them in my home, I found an ebook that was a great help.

Homemade remedies

Home remedies can be an effective way to get rid of these insects and do your own pest control. Some people swear by peppermint oil or another essential oil in a spray bottle as these insects don’t like the smell. Other possible repellents could be bay leaves to keep them out of your home. Also homemade sticky traps can be an effective form of pest control and silverfish removal.

If after following these tips, you are still having issues, it may be best to call an expert such as a professional exterminator.


How long do silverfish live?

I was astonished to find out the answer to this question, but apparently they can live up to 8 years, although anything between 3 and 6 years is average.

What causes them to come into a home?

They are attracted to a home when the right conditions are met i.e. there is plentiful food and water for them to survive.

Dave Campbell

I'm Dave Campbell and the owner of You can read more about me and my background on my About Me page.

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