Q: Every once in a while I see a silverfish in my house. How can I get rid of them?
— Opal Shively, Cuyahoga Falls
A: People sometimes think silverfish come from the plumbing, since they’re often found in sinks or bathtubs. What really happens is the insects venture into sinks or tubs in search of water and can’t get out.
Silverfish like damp, cool places, such as basements, laundry rooms and bathrooms. They also like to eat the starch in wallpaper paste, book bindings and sometimes fabric, as well as cereal grain products and dried meat.
You don’t need to use an insecticide for an occasional silverfish sighting, the University of California’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program says. Instead, focus on blocking the insects’ access to your house and eliminating their sources of food, water and shelter. Insecticides won’t be effective anyway unless you’ve addressed those problems first, the IPM program says.
Fact sheets from several university extension services recommend keeping basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms, spaces under sinks and especially shower stalls clean and dry. Fix sources of dampness, such as leaky plumbing or condensation.
Using dehumidifiers or ventilating fans can help. So can lowering the temperature in the house.
Periodically clean out closets, cabinets and other storage areas and remove old stacks of papers, magazines, books and fabrics. Store those types of items, as well as grain products and dried meat, in tightly sealed containers if you can.
To keep silverfish out of the house, caulk or seal cracks and openings, such as the spaces around window casings and door frames, along baseboards and around pipes.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.