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How to deal with silverfish in your home or cottage

If you’ve ever been irked by tiny, silver bugs gliding across the floor in your home or cottage, you’ve encountered silverfish. These wingless, carrot-shaped insects get their name from the shiny, metallic scales that cover them, and while they’re generally harmless to humans, you definitely don’t want to have an infestation of them at your cottage.

Unfortunately, if you’ve spotted some of these quick critters on your floors, there are likely many more living under the baseboards, behind the walls, and in other damp hiding places. So to help you stop silverfish from becoming an issue, here’s what you should know about these common pests—and what you can do to get rid of silverfish for good

What are they?

Silverfish, or lepisma saccharina, are flat, silvery insects that are about 1 cm long and have two antennas and three “bristles” at the rear. They’re mostly nocturnal—you’ll likely see them on bathroom floors in the middle of the night—they don’t hibernate, and they can live up to eight years. They can also be tough pests to get rid of completely, as they are able to survive Canada’s extreme cold, and they can go without food for many months.

What do they eat?

Silverfish love starch and carbohydrates, and they’ll eat everything from old books to cardboard boxes—which is bad news for the box of romance novels you keep at your cottage. They will also munch on fabrics, wallpaper, cereal, flour, food crumbs, and dead insects. Experts recommend cleaning up infested areas as much as possible, removing their food sources by vacuuming thoroughly in the kitchen, and wiping down areas like bookcases and window frames. 

Where do they like to hide?

These little bugs are attracted to moisture and love damp, cool environments. If the conditions are right, they can hide under baseboards or in the subfloor, behind the frames of doors and windows, in bookcases, and on kitchen and closet shelves. At the cottage, you might find them in dark, damp storage areas like the attic and the garage, or near humid spaces like bathrooms and basements.

Are they dangerous?

Silverfish don’t transmit diseases or otherwise harm humans. But—besides being creepy crawlies—they can also cause damage to your property if left untreated. These insects can stain and destroy paper products, fabrics, and even wallpaper.   

How can you get rid of them?

Start with Raid® Home Insect Killer, which will work right away on contact. Then do a thorough cleaning of the infested area. In the kitchen, vacuum up any dust and food debris, and wipe down surfaces like closet shelves, baseboards, and door frames, where silverfish may hide. 

You’ll also want to make your property less enticing for these little critters. Remove any unnecessary clutter and paper products like cardboard boxes and old newspapers, and place items that silverfish might be attracted to, like flour and pasta, inside airtight storage containers. And finally, during the humid summer months, use a dehumidifier to help alleviate dampness and moisture in the space.