Silverfish: Swimming into a Bathroom Near You
Are you familiar with silverfish? If not, the name doesn’t help much. Neither silver nor fish, these tiny insects are much more annoying than helpful. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid getting them so you — hopefully — never even have to worry about them.
What Is a Silverfish, Anyway?
So if a silverfish isn’t silver or a fish, then what is it? It is a teardrop-shaped insect up to about ¾ inches long with three long bristles on the end. They live in pretty much any climate, but they prefer dark, damp areas. Since we don’t have dank, cold basements in Arizona, where you’re most likely to find silverfish here is in attics or crawl spaces, kitchens, and bathrooms. If you have a home gym or pool and tend to throw wet towels and clothes into the hamper, that’s also a great place for them to thrive.
As for food, silverfish feed on carbohydrates. They like sugars, starches, and cellulose, so items such as shampoo, glue in books, linen, silk, and dead insects are good sources of food for them. Silverfish have also been found in unopened food packages, presumably making their way inside during the production process.
Do You Have Silverfish in Your Home?
When you see one or two silverfish on the floor of your bathroom or in the tub, the likelihood is that you have more, perhaps even an infestation.
Since silverfish are nocturnal and secretive, you may not even find any until you already have a problem. In fact, you might find their damage first. Remember that silverfish eat carbohydrates, so they might be causing damage in your home by eating paper (including wallpaper!) and clothing. Look for infestations in areas where it’s dark and/or wet, such as basements, attics, kitchens, bathrooms, gym rooms, and laundry rooms.
Prevent the Silverfish Invasion
Although silverfish can live anywhere, including arid Phoenix, they prefer a humid climate. That’s why they’re so happy in rooms that have water. One way to ensure that you don’t have to deal with a silverfish infestation is to control humidity in your home. Thankfully, our natural surroundings do a good deal of this, but ways you can help include:
- Keep wet areas well ventilated by turning on fans when showering or in closed laundry rooms.
- Hang up wet clothes and towels until they’re dry before putting them in the hamper.
- Transfer freshly washed clothes from the washing machine to the dryer quickly; don’t let them sit in the washer overnight.
- Keep crawl spaces and attics well ventilated.
If you do believe that you have a silverfish infestation, you need to address both the adults and their eggs — and these insects reproduce quickly! One species lays a few eggs a day, whereas another lays clusters of 2–20 eggs. So your problem may double daily until you take care of it. Store-bought treatments don’t often work because they only attack one silverfish at a time rather than addressing the entire infestation.
Even though silverfish have a funny, ironic name, they’re nothing to laugh about. If you’ve found one or two silverfish in your home, you likely have more.