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How to Keep Silverfish Away From Your Books and Papers

Dec 29, 2022

Have you ever looked through an old book or a stack of papers, only to find a small silver or gray insect scurrying out from between the pages?

If this has only happened to you once or twice, you might believe it’s an isolated incident– that bug just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… right? 

Actually, silverfish are drawn to paper and other starch-based materials– and they can live anywhere in your home.

What is a silverfish?

Silverfish are small insects that can live both outdoors and indoors. They’re typically drawn to locations that have a high level of moisture or humidity, like basements and bathrooms.

They’re pretty small, usually about half an inch long. They don’t fly, but can move quickly and climb well.

Are silverfish dangerous?

While silverfish look creepy and crawly, especially to people who naturally dislike insects, they are not actually dangerous to humans.

They don’t bite or sting and are unlikely to transmit any kind of bacteria or disease. They don’t eat other insects, and are just motivated to find food and water to support themselves.

While not dangerous to people, silverfish can be a nuisance by eating important papers and other materials. You might even notice holes in clothing caused by hungry silverfish!

What do silverfish eat?

Silverfish have been around for a very long time– an estimated four hundred million years. They can survive on many different types of food, but can also survive for days at a time without food if necessary.

They prefer starchy materials, like paper or glue, but they can also eat carpeting, wallpaper… and even hair.

These materials give them the carbohydrates and protein that they need to survive. They’ll also eat human food if they can access it; sugary foods are particularly appealing to them.

Where do silverfish live in the home?

Due to the wide variety of foods that silverfish can survive on, they can live virtually anywhere in your home. They can also live outside. One of the things that makes silverfish a particularly stubborn pest to deal with is their ability to thrive in all kinds of conditions!

However, you’re most likely to find them in humid environments where they can access a good food source. If you have boxes of books or papers in the basement of your home, you’re essentially providing an all-you-can-eat buffet to any silverfish who pay your home a visit!

How can I keep silverfish away from my books and papers?

If you look through old books and papers and notice yellow stains, scratches, or droppings, it’s likely that silverfish have been snacking on the pages.

You can prevent silverfish from entering your home by carefully inspecting paper-based items that you bring into the home.

Moving a cardboard box into your house from outdoors, or from a basement or garage, is likely to bring some hitchhiking silverfish along with it– so check it out carefully and try to shake it off to discourage them from catching a ride!

Additionally, keeping books and papers in airtight plastic containers does a great job keeping silverfish away from them.

Should I call professional pest control to handle silverfish?

Even though silverfish aren’t an active threat to your safety, they can still cause damage to your important possessions– like treasured old books, letters, and photographs.

If you’d like to safely take care of your home’s silverfish infestation, contact West Termite & Pest for a free consultation today.

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