Industry News

The simplicity and complexity of managing silverfish

By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.

Sometimes a situation requires removing a few silverfish from your customers’ property. Because you caught the infestation early, the problem is solved. However, an infestation can be very costly to combat if they’re not treated properly from the start.

When approaching a silverfish infestation, you must be prepared to fight it for as long as a year. If you are successful, ongoing inspections and periodic treatments may still be needed. Not following through can almost guarantee a return. Silverfish require labor-intense procedures, such as:

  1. Sealing interiors, including small cracks around interior windows and door frames, basements and ceiling moldings. Attics must be baited on top of and below insulation.
  2. Dusting behind exterior roofs and wall shingles.
  3. Removing or minimizing any mulching adjacent to a structure.
  4. Using sticky traps to pinpoint where additional work may be necessary.
  5. Trimming tree limbs away from a structure to enable air flow.
  6. Avoiding storing materials in cardboard boxes, including in the garage.
  7. Looking for the unexpected, especially if wooden shake exterior siding and/or roofs are present.

The NPCA (NPMA) Field Guide to Structural Pests supports that where “there is an abundance of moisture, cellulose, starch and dead insects,” silverfish are likely to exist.1 Watch the video below to see why it’s so important to be critical when looking for hidden pests:


Here are a few examples of my most memorable silverfish jobs:

  1. A multi-complex apartment building in New Jersey had about 50 wood-shingled apartments with silverfish on the interior walls. The flat roof of the building had stacks of newspapers sitting on it that showed signs of being present for years. Silverfish were found in and around the newspapers. The apartments had window air conditioners, and a visit on a warm summer night revealed silverfish were also crawling into some of the apartments via cracks around the units.
  2. When high-rise apartments sprung up in Toronto, many had silverfish populations before they were available to rent. Toronto PMPs eventually discovered that the apartment builders were unknowingly bringing silverfish in with the insulation during construction.

These situations required following the procedures listed at the beginning of this article. If you don’t follow up on a silverfish job or follow the appropriate steps, history will repeat itself.


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1 Smith, E.H. and Whitman, R.C. (1992). NPCA (NPMA) Field Guide to Structural Pests.

Syngenta hereby disclaims any liability for Third Party websites referenced herein.

©2018 Syngenta. For Life Uninterrupted™ and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368).

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