Silverfish are attracted to humidity, darkness, and the carbohydrates in starchy material. To keep them out, deprive them of these things. Make sure your basement is dehumidified, dry, and well-insulated. Keep anything you’re storing in the basement in hard plastic containers, and elevate those containers off the ground.

If you have silverfish, chances are they’re hiding in your basement. Basements are a silverfish paradise because they provide all the food, shelter, darkness, and humidity the pests could want. Keeping these pests away from your home means finding a way to make your basement less appealing. Here’s what you should know to do exactly that:

What are silverfish?

Silverfish are several different species in the Zygentoma order of insects. The most common silverfish is the Lepisma saccharina. Silverfish are small, silver or grey insects with no wings, long antennae, and even longer bristles on their tails. The insects’ shiny scale-like segments and distinctive zigzag movement patterns make them resemble fish or shrimp.

Silverfish aren’t dangerous, but they can be slightly destructive when they feed. They could feed on stored food, books, boxes, clothing and other fabric, and a wide variety of other materials. As they feed, they’ll damage the material they feed on. They’ll also leave behind droppings, shed skin, and other waste products. 

Silverfish in a basement corner

Why are silverfish in my basement?

Silverfish are attracted to warm, humid environments. They need a 70 to 80℉ environments to stay fully active. The more humid the environment, the longer they can remain active. Their ideal environment has 75 to 95% relative humidity. Basements are frequently the only part of a home that satisfies both of these requirements at once.

Most silverfish species are naturally nocturnal. They spend days hiding and come out at night to forage for food. To hide out successfully, they like to live in dark, secluded places where they won’t be bothered while they rest. If they can rest and hide around their food sources, that’s even better. The pests aren’t particularly picky when it comes to food. The stuff in your basement usually does nicely.

How do silverfish get into my basement?

Silverfish either sneak into homes themselves or you accidentally transport them inside yourself. They’re flat, thin, flexible pests and they can easily squeeze through tight places. Some follow utility lines like plumbing pipes until they reach small gaps they can follow into a home. They may also follow drafts coming from frames, base boarding, or the foundation.

People frequently transport pests inside because they don’t realize the pests (or their eggs) are hiding in their boxes. Silverfish spend days remaining perfect still in cramped, dark hiding places. They’ll frequently hide in commonly-transported materials such as cardboard, paper, boxes, bags, books, and more. After you inadvertently bring them inside, they’ll spread out, eat, grow, and mate inside your home. 

Silverfish on a book

Where do silverfish go once they’re in my basement?

Upon establishing themselves, silverfish spread throughout your basement. Often, the pests work themselves into the most secluded, humid, hidden corners in order to eat and hide continuously. Look for them beneath cardboard boxes, nestled in bookbinding and other stored paper products, and even inside storage materials. Female silverfish also lay their eggs in small crevices near food sources in secluded places.

If you’re unsure if you have an infestation, start looking for them by unpacking anything you’re storing in your basement. Go through all the cardboard boxes, paper or plastic bags, or other storage containers you keep downstairs. Silverfish usually nestle themselves in food sources to hide during the day. They might suddenly run away from you when revealed. Make sure you check beneath furniture and in corners, too, especially around utility lines. 

How can I can keep silverfish out of my basement?

Controlling humidity is the best way to control silverfish. If you can dry the pests out, they won’t be able to live in your basement. Look for drafts, plumbing leaks, runoff, and other sources of excess moisture. Make sure pipes and fixtures don’t drip condensation and keep all storage materials dry. Replace weatherproofing once every couple of years, and make sure your basement is very well insulated. Consider investing in a dehumidifier if you’re having trouble keeping things dry.

While you’re patching drafts, look for other possible cracks and gaps. Check around door and window frames, base boarding, utility lines, and the foundation If a gap is large enough to see, it’s probably large enough for the pests to exploit. Finally, make food as inaccessible as possible. Elevate all storage material and keep paper, fabric, and other starchy materials in hard plastic containers. If silverfish have nothing to eat and nowhere to hide, they won’t stick around.

 

Once established, silverfish can be very difficult to remove. They’re small, fast, sneaky, and very good at finding the best hiding places in your basement. Don’t worry, though: as good as silverfish are at hiding, we’re even better at finding them. 

Give Griffin Pest Solutions a call any time you want to wipe out your infestation once and for all. Our experts will help you keep silverfish out of your basement–and the rest of your home–for good.

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