Very few people like bugs, and of those who do, I doubt that they want the creepy-crawlies running free in their homes. Here in Northern Virginia, we don’t have to deal with the palmetto bugs (cockroaches’ bigger, uglier cousins) that we had in my native Florida, but we do have little nasties that they have in most of the country: silverfish. Even if you don’t know these by name, you’ve probably seen them: they are a silvery-gray color, with what looks like a tail - hence the name. 

Silverfish have been around for a long time. I’m talking 100 million years before dinosaurs! These nocturnal, wingless bugs are rampant in all parts of the United States. They like humidity, so you might find them hanging out in basements, attics, crawl spaces, and the like. It’s an unpleasant surprise to stumble into your bathroom late at night and find one of these specimens, antennae flopping, crawling around your tub! 

The easiest way to get rid of these pests is to make your house unwelcoming to them and their friends. To this end, you should aim to eradicate places that they can nest - stacks of newspapers or old magazines are one prime example. Next, cut off their food supply. Vacuum frequently to pick up any yummy crumbs, and make sure that all dry food (especially cat or dog kibble) is stored in a sealed container. Rooms should be ventilated regularly, and any leaks in either your foundation or insulating pipes should be dealt with, pronto. 

The good news is that silverfish may be creepy, but they are nowhere as destructive as other communicable forms of vermin. They cannot bite humans or animals, thanks to their tiny jaws capable of gnawing on only paper and some microscopic bits of dry food, so they don’t spread disease. This also means that they can’t destroy your foundation, a la termites. But what they can do is nibble away relentlessly at treasured books, photo albums, and important documents. They can also contaminate your dry food (bags of rice, grains, etc.) by getting into improperly-sealed containers, meaning that you have to waste money and throw them out. 

In severe cases, you can and should consult with a professional pest removal service to get your silverfish problem in check. There are also DIY extermination methods that you can research online. Silverfish may not be the nuisance that termites, fleas, or roaches are, but you don’t want them in your home! It’s best to prevent, but if they’ve already invaded, you can take steps to send them packing.