Silverfish are small, starch-loving insects that like to chew their way through your books, clothing, glue, and flour.
They can’t cause you any harm, but they can definitely destroy your belongings.
What are the best traps for silverfish? The best traps for silverfish are those made with diatomaceous earth, which is a harmless, natural substance that will kill bugs quickly. Store-bought sticky traps or traps made with a jar, tape, and bait are also effective. Pesticides should only be used as a last resort.
It’s important to choose the right solution for your home. Some solutions might not be as effective for large infestations while others aren’t safe around children and pets.
Knowing all your options will help you make an informed decision about what to use in your home.
Best Practices for Preventing an Infestation
Silverfish love dark, moist environments that contain plenty of starches. Libraries, attics, closets, and pantries are where you’ll most likely find them.
(Is it harmful to have silverfish in your home? Find the answer here.)
Sealing starches in air-tight containers and keeping rooms dry are great ways to keep the pests out.
Silverfish are appropriately named because of their metallic silver color and the way that they move around like a fish.
They’re usually no bigger than 1 inch (25 millimeters) long and are usually found in dark, damp locations.
Find out exactly why you keep seeing them in your house here.
Another common silverfish is the gray silverfish (Ctenolepisma longicaudata).
You can tell this one apart from the other because it appears to be covered in hair and is a bit browner than the other.
You might confuse a firebrat with silverfish because they’re incredibly similar. The main difference is that these insects prefer hotter temperatures.
If you find them in your home, it’ll likely be around the boiler or the oven.
You can use the same removal and prevention methods for these insects as you would for silverfish.
The best way to keep silverfish out of your home is to keep the area dry and your starches in air-tight containers. Follow these tips:
- Store pantry items in containers – Cereals, flour, sugar, and anything else that has a chance of not being properly sealed should be stored in air-tight containers so silverfish won’t crawl in.
- Use a dehumidifier – Humid rooms will attract silverfish like crazy. If you frequently find them in your home, use a dehumidifier in the rooms that get them the most.
- Store unused clothing in containers – Moths are usually the source of trouble in closets, but silverfish can chew up your clothing, too.
- Don’t let clutter pile up – A stack of paper or a pile of laundry is enough to attract silverfish. Make it a habit to declutter regularly so the bugs won’t have as many places to hide.
- Clean your home routinely – Vacuuming, disinfecting walls and common hiding spots (this article tells you how to do this with bleach), and using essential oil sprays will help keep them away.
For an in-depth look at how to prevent silverfish, head over to this article.
What to Look for in a Silverfish Trap
There are several traps on the market that you can choose from, and you can even create your own traps.
You should consider what type will be effective in the area, if they’re safe around the members of your household, and if they’re easy to use.
Types of Silverfish Traps
There are four types of silverfish traps from which you can choose.
- Sticky traps: When silverfish walk on the adhesive, they stick to it and won’t be able to escape.
- Bait: Baits attract silverfish and are usually toxic. Once they eat the bait, they will die shortly after.
- Poison: Poison can be a bait trap or an insecticide. Some sticky traps might be poisonous as well.
- Mechanical killer: Diatomaceous earth is a mechanical killer, meaning that as silverfish walk across it, the powder injures them and causes them to die slowly. Some mechanical killers contain pesticides.
- DIY: The most common DIY trap is a jar with tape on the outside and bait on the inside. The silverfish crawls up the jar, falls in, and is unable to crawl out.
Not all traps will work in every area, so you need to consider how it will affect the room you’re going to put it in.
If you have children or pets, you won’t want to use a trap that contains toxic chemicals.
If you have a silverfish problem outside, you might find that indoor traps aren’t as effective in a larger area.
Be sure to read the directions of the trap before you deploy it in your home to make sure that it’ll be able to get the job done.
Safe for Use Around People and Pets
Many people rely on chemicals to eradicate their silverfish problem since the nocturnal insects are so difficult to find.
Be sure you read the ingredient labels so you know exactly what you’re putting in or around your home.
Pesticides are highly toxic and can be dangerous to anyone in the area while you apply them.
It’s always best to use nontoxic, natural traps that won’t cause harm to anyone that comes into contact with it.
Ease of Use
Reusable traps are a good way to save money, but there’s the task of having to clean out the trap.
If you don’t like to get in close proximity to silverfish, then you probably won’t want to use a reusable trap. However, you’ll only have to buy new ones occasionally.
If you go the DIY route, you may never have to purchase one again.
Disposable traps are inexpensive and don’t require you to get closer than you want to be to the silverfish.
You can put on a glove, grab the trap, and quickly toss it in the garbage.
Sticky traps won’t look pretty because you’ll have to see several silverfish caught in the trap, but luckily these traps are usually used in dark corners of the house.
Other disposable traps are bait and mechanical killers that you sprinkle on the ground.
The silverfish will either eat it or walk across it and will die within the next few days.
Soon, within the surrounding area, you’ll see dead silverfish, which will need to be disposed of properly.
Best Indoor Silverfish Traps
The following products are the best traps to use indoors for silverfish.
Since you’ll have to place these inside your home, it’s recommended to choose something that will be safe for your household.
Diatomaceous earth is probably the safest and most effective natural method of getting rid of silverfish there is.
It’s not necessarily a trap, but it can be used as an efficient way to kill the insects.
To use diatomaceous earth, sprinkle it around where they like to hide.
You can leave a shallow pile of it with bait in the middle (you can use flour, cereal, or damp paper) to create a trap.
Diatomaceous earth works slowly. The particles in the powder injure the insects by tearing up their exoskeletons. They lose moisture, and if the dust sticks to them, it will dehydrate them.
You’ll likely find dead silverfish near where you sprinkled the dust. The dust is made from fossilized algae and doesn’t contain anything toxic.
This particular bag by HARRIS comes with a duster to make it easy to apply.
It’s food grade and organic, so you can feel safe when using this product around children and pets. While it harms the silverfish, it won’t harm you.
- Nontoxic and completely safe to use.
- Can be applied anywhere silverfish are found.
- Bag comes with a handy duster for easy application.
- Must have piles of dust around when using.
- Doesn’t kill instantly.
This sticky trap is an easy way to get rid of silverfish. The silverfish crawl across the surface and get stuck.
They’ll eventually die there, and once the trap is full, you can toss it out and replace it with a new one.
This GreenWay trap folds into a triangle with the adhesive on the inside. This design makes it easy to discard – you never have to touch the bugs.
There’s also a bigger surface area for catching the insects too.
Because of the design, you can lay it down on the ground or stand it up in the corner, so you can be sure to catch the critters from wherever they’re hiding.
The adhesive is nontoxic and safe to use around pets and children. Replace the traps every two months or whenever the trap is full.
- Design makes it easy to use.
- Nontoxic and can be used anywhere indoors.
- Can also be used for other insects.
- Only lasts two months.
InTice is a toxic bait that silverfish will eat. It will kill them in just a few days. The directions state to apply it again after a week if you still have insects in your home.
InTice is made with boric acid, which is a highly toxic, but naturally occurring, chemical.
Since boric acid occurs naturally in nature, it’s not the worst chemical to use in your home, but you shouldn’t use it in areas that can be reached by children or pets.
You shouldn’t use this chemical in kitchens or any other location where food is prepared.
You can also use this outside as well, but take note that it will kill several other insects, including snails.
If you like to keep certain critters alive, be mindful when you choose to use this product.
- Kills silverfish quickly.
- Easy to use.
- Can also be used outdoors.
- Toxic – not safe for human or animal consumption.
DIY Jar Trap
A jar trap is an excellent way to make a trap for silverfish for a cheap price. If you already have the materials at home, then you won’t have to spend any money at all.
You will need:
- A glass jar.
- Tape (packing tape is best).
- Bait (starchy, such as flour).
To make this trap, wrap strips of tape around a glass jar so that the adhesive is facing outward.
Place starchy bait on the inside and set the trap where you usually find silverfish.
Silverfish will be able to crawl up the jar, but they won’t be able to crawl out because of the slick walls of the jar.
You might want to wet the bait since silverfish enjoy moist environments. Flour paste, wet newspaper, or wet cereal would work well.
Check out this article to discover what other foods and materials attract silverfish.
- Costs little to nothing.
- Can easily make as many as you need.
- Use whichever bait you have available.
- Will have to empty out the silverfish if you want to reuse the trap.
Best Outdoor Silverfish Traps
Silverfish are more commonly found inside than outside because they’re nocturnal and love dark spaces.
If you spot silverfish outside, they’re probably on their way inside, so it’s important to stop them before they become a problem in your home.
If they do wind up inside, read through our guide on getting rid of silverfish quickly and easily.
There aren’t as many trap options for outdoors as there are for indoors, but there are still some great options that might work for you.
If you spot some silverfish scurrying around your home, you need to create an appealing area for them to gather so you can dispose of them all at once.
To do this, roll up a newspaper and place it outside where you’ve seen silverfish. Wet it with a hose and leave it for a few days.
Once you’ve noticed that silverfish have moved in, you need to discard the newspaper.
You can either stomp all over it to squish the pests and throw it in the dumpster or burn it.
Whichever way you choose to get rid of them, it should be away from your home so they don’t find their way inside.
- Simple process that won’t take long.
- Allows you to dispose of multiple bugs at once.
- You don’t have to get too close to them.
- Requires you to attract them to get rid of them.
- Potentially dangerous if you choose to burn it.
Natural Debris Traps
Even though homes are generally more attractive to silverfish, there are plenty of places they like to hide outdoors.
You can use these hiding spots to your advantage to get rid of them.
Locate where they like to hide. It’ll usually be in piles of leaves or grass clippings, under stones or wood boards, or sometimes beneath outdoor rugs.
You can even set up a sticky trap inside the leaf pile or near the stones.
- Inexpensive method.
- Makes use of where they’re already gathering.
- Rain will make these areas more attractive.
- Raises the risk of them entering your home.
Cimexa is an insecticide dust that can be applied in cracks and crevices to kill silverfish. It’s odorless and long-lasting.
It can be used indoors, but we’re recommending it for outdoor use since the dust can cause irritation when used indoors.
While this isn’t quite a trap, you can use it where the silverfish like to hide to kill them.
If you find the eggs they lay, this can be dusted on them and it will kill the silverfish soon after they hatch.
This product contains chemicals and shouldn’t be used around children or pets.
- Kills silverfish quickly.
- Kills them soon after they hatch.
- Can be applied in cracks and crevices where they live.
- Not safe around people and animals.
- Can leave dust residue.
You can make a bigger version of the DIY jar trap to use outdoors.
Find a tall plastic container or a 5-gallon bucket. Wrap tape around it like you would the jar and place water and starch inside.
Leaves and grass clippings will work well outside since they match the natural environment.
Silverfish can’t crawl up slick surfaces, so try to find something that their feet won’t be able to grab onto.
This trap might attract other bugs and mosquitoes if there’s water in it, so check it daily and empty the contents once you see insects living in it.
- Easy way to trap many silverfish.
- Using leaves means you don’t have to buy bait.
- Can attract other pests.
- Might not work if the container is too tall.
Silverfish are attracted to moisture, starches, and dark places, so you should find a trap that will work well with these conditions.
Sticky traps are easy and inexpensive to use and won’t leave a mess behind.
Diatomaceous earth is highly recommended because it’s completely natural and won’t harm you, but it will leave a mess behind.
There are several pesticide options you can choose, but they do pose a risk to people and pets.
They can be super effective in a short amount of time, but it’s best to save these as a last resort since they aren’t the safest option.
If you’re interested in finding other prevention methods and elimination tips, be sure to read through all of our featured silverfish articles. You can find them here.