silverfish

Hi. I know this is a gardening newsgroup, but does anyone know how to rid my house of silverfish? I know they like dampness,and in the warmer months I run a dehumidifier all the time and keep my humidity low, but here in the north(where it's snowing today!) the heat is still on and they have started coming out already. Is there a spray I can use or poder that will keep them out of the house? Thanks for any input. CG in NY
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This website recommends a shitload of products to control them: http://www.bugspray.com/articles98/silverfish.html The usual professional control is pyrethroid insecticide dusting, including inside walls (through drilled holes). The claims that pyrathrins are safe to breathe strikes me as dubious, especially since acute toxic poisoning of humans & pets is well documented from people using it as a flea control, at concentrations as small as 0.15%, causing "cutaneous paresthesias, upper respiratory tract irritation, dyspnea with productive cough, and repetitive vomiting and diarrhea."
Most other chemical choices would be even worse, but one of the least harmful controls is evaporative pest strips such as Vapona. The chemical is EXTREMELY toxic & skin-contact with the strip itself is very hazardous, & if a child or pet gets hold of the strip (some brands look like tasty cheese), then bad news all round. But it is physically impossible to deliver a harmful dose to people or other mammals through inhalation, so properly used with radical attention to all the label wornings, a pest strip should not be people-safe. Evaporative pest strips treat an entire room for 30 days, floor to ceiling, & work pretty darned well on silverfish, mites, lice, fleas, mosquitos.
There are organic control options. Whole cloves are said to shoo away silverfish, though I suspect that's merely a legend. Boric acid powder definitely discourages them.
The best control is to remedy damp conditions, which might not be possible if their primary population is in a damp attic or basement, but should be easy if their primary population is in the kitchen & bathroom. Also get a hand-held little vacuum cleaner & vaccuum the areas around sinks & cabinets to remove all loose food particles & silverfish eggs. You can make a silverfish trap to assess the degree of infestation as well as getting rid of the adults: Get a jelly glass or small jar & tape the outside so silverfish can climb up & into the jar; use a little fine flour as bait. They cannot climb glass so will not be able to get out, & can be flushed down the toilet.
Silverfish in the garden do only good & help sustain a rich loam; garden silverfish or firebrants do not need control. In the house is another matter. They eat starch & decaying matter. They do NOT eat modern books as chemical-vendors pretend -- in the old days when books were glued with flour-based starchy pastes silverfish were a problem, so can still be a problem for OLD books eating all the glue out of the spine resulting in loosened sewn-signatures, but modern books are never glued with starch & silverfish are not attracted to them at all. They do NOT eat paper as the chemical vendors claim. But kitchens, laundry rooms, & bathrooms are rich sources of several kinds of starch unless the human inhabitants are radically about cleanliness.
-paghat the ratgirl
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:) Hi. I know this is a gardening newsgroup, but does anyone know how to rid my :) house of silverfish? I know they like dampness,and in the warmer months I :) run a dehumidifier all the time and keep my humidity low, but here in the :) north(where it's snowing today!) the heat is still on and they have started :) coming out already. Is there a spray I can use or poder that will keep them :) out of the house? :) Thanks for any input. :) CG in NY :) Unless they are in mass numbers, there may be no need to do anything at all. They won't damage your clothing and paper damage I see is usually old papers that are stored in the attic or that has gotten wet at one time. They are usually originating from the attic/wall space brought in with the building materials, especially in the era of wood shingles. I have seen the best results with Pro-Zap brand pest strip, placed in the attic, especially above the areas where they are seen inside. I rarely use more than one in an average sized attic, the most I have used have been three in a very large home. The dozen or so times I have put them out I have been surprised with the positive results, though I don't have enough faith in them to charge for a "silverfish service" with warranty. Another seemingly effective product is DEKKO Silverfish baits. They will be placed in areas silverfish are found..closets, storage chests, file cabinets, dresser drawers. Both products can be found at Pest control Supply Houses or over the web, though you will be paying three times the costs if getting them over the web. You can treat around the wall penetrations with various dusts that help will stop them from entering the home, though they may push them to other penetrations like light switches and fixtures. Liquid treatments can also be made around certain penetrations, but once again won't be the cure.
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Not a spray, but bait packs. They are small pieces of cardboard that contain a powder (20% boric acid powder). I have a lot of books and don't want to risk silverfish damage to my books so I place these bait packs on the book shelves behind the books. It has worked.
Silverfish will eat any paper they find in a dark out of the way place. When you see old papers with pieces missing, it was the silver fish that ate it.
I bought mine from "Walter Drake".
They are available at:
http://www.wdrake.com/product_detail.aspx?item_no 05048
24 packs for $10.
If you google "silverfish packs" you will find others.
http://www.mileskimball.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&iProductID341
has 24 packs for $8, a better buy.
http://store.doyourownpestcontrol.com/cgi-bin/pestcontrol.storefront/EN/p roduct/KB153-6
has 144 packs for $40, a good buy for large quantities.
For complete product details check:
http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Product.jsp?REG_NR 031300001&DIST_N R0313
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Silverfish eat paper that is already damp & decaying, not otherwise. Libraries of antiquarian books can have all the starchy glue eaten out of the spine, & become "shaken" or "loose" in the binding, & they can get under the cloth & loosen that from the bookboards; but the pages of such old books are themselves unharmed & can be rebound. Silverfish have even eaten the starch out of certain types of paint & canvass sizing, leaving the paper or canvas that the painting was done on unharmed while eradicating the artwork, & may eat the coloring off of valuable ephemera. But in the mainly only if paper is damp & moldy -- in essence, already destroyed -- will silverfish eat any of it.
When actual holes appear in books, paper, block prints, & so it, it is the work of Sitodrepa paniceum or drugstore-beetle larvae, or sundry species Anobium beetle including the "furniture beetle" that can drill through a whole row of books & right through the bookshelf while its at it; the Mexican book-beetle (Catorama mexicana), or for old leather books with holes in the leather, Dermestes lardarius or Larder Beetle that drills meat & leather; & many other sorts of larvae that look like minute mealworms & which collectively gave rise to the common name "book worms," meaning persons of beetle larvae that devour books.
Silverfish are not a problem for modern books which are not glued with starch & they do not eat paper. Bookworms however remain a problem since they do eat paper.
Silverfish are primitive critters older than the dinosaurs. They are thought to never stop growing & in theory can become extremely large though they rarely live long enough to prove it. I once found a huge two-century-old leather-bound book from Germany (of illustrated marchen) & as I was delicately turning the pages to amaze at the artwork, there dropped from out of the spine into my lap a silverfish an inch & a half long & as big around on the big end as my thumb. I almost peed my pants.
-paghat the antiquarian bookseller

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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote:

Silverfish love newspaper in our basement. The basement is damp in the summer, but the paper doesn't decay on its own. We have a dehumidifier in the basement. They seem to keep nibbling at the edges until big sections are missing.
One trick that helps is to moisten a newspaper (so that it was damp but not soaking) roll up the newspaper and tie it with an elastic. Do this at night and the next morning slowly open up the newspaper (it should be full of silverfish) next either burn the newspaper or empty into a garbage can outside the house. Do this every night until the newspaper no longer has any silverfish in it.
Actually the common term silverfish includes: Silverfish - Lepisma saccharina L. Four-Lined Silverfish - Ctenolepisma quadriseriata Long-Tailed or Gray Silverfish - Ctenolepisma longicaudata Esch. Firebrat - Thermobia domestica
According to the Ohio State University, silverfish and firebrats eat: glue, wallpaper paste, bookbindings, paper, photographs, starch in clothing, cotton, linen, rayon fabrics, wheat flour, cereals, dried meats, leather and even dead insects.
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William Lyon simply has that wrong. I see the claim that they eat paper made time & again but not by anyone who has actual direct experience as a paper archivist. When stated CORRECTLY the most that will be claimed is silverfish eat "paper surfaces" (because they eat the sizing off photographic papers or drygum off of wallpapers, but not the paper itself).
I have dealt in antique ephemera & rare books for thirty years, & have an extensive antiquarian book stock right now if you'd like to buy something old & rare & truly interesting. I have helped restore book collections after flooding & after poor storage caused them to be damaged by damp or insects. I have never seen a book nor even a pulp magazine in which the PAPER was damaged by silverfish. So I maintain there are no silverfish eating your newsprint as you misdiagnosed. If it were insects at all, it could be lots & lots of varieties, including cockroaches, but the presence of silverfish doesn't mean they eat newsprint because they don't.
What you describe doesn't even sound like insect damage; what appears to be edge-eaten newsprint is caused by oxygen in contact with the acidic bonding agents in cheap paper, which react to oxygen and/or ultra violet light, "brittling" the edges of the paper so that it chips away irregularly or turns to dust. People frequently believe insects or mice did it, but it is a natural decay process for pulp paper. This doesn't happen with acid-neutral papers but only with pulp papers that used acid bonding agents, & the center of the pages are less apt to be damaged because they are not in contact with oxygen or ultraviolet the way the edges of a stack of papers or a bound pulp magazine would be.
The RARE instances when silverfish eat paper is when the paper is wet & partially decayed (because they eat the starch byproducts of mold & mildew growing on paper); heavily foxed (because they eat the starch byproduct in the foxing microorganisms); or when paper is heavily contaminated with dextrose or starch or has been coated with paper sizing (which is pure starch but is not ordinarily used on book papers, but is on photographic paper or artists' paper) or which is moldy & already ruined.
It is similarly falsely claimed that "booklice" (psocids) eat paper, but all they eat are the starch in bindings or the byproducts of any mold or fungi that has already attacked books. If they ever ate a "hole" in a page it would be the same way a silverfish might do it, by eating the starchy spot caused by fungal "foxing" inside books, & rarely even that since it is antique glues they are after foremost.
I've done a LOT of practical & applied research on archiving books & paper; I have personally handled thousands upon thousands of books the glue of which had been entirely eaten away by silverfish, & never seen even moderate evidence of their having eaten the paper per se. Papers & books properly stored in low humidity & low-end room temperatures, silverfish are not a problem, but many libraries & books get stored in seasonally hot humid basements, & the older books with starchy glues will attract booklice & silverfish. Their search for starch in vintage books can be extremely harmful & cause entire bindings to fall apart, & weaken binding cloth by eating the sizing agent (starch) or eating the inked letters & designs out of cloth embossures without harming the cloth. The paper of such ruined books is generally perfectly all right & can be rebound, unless also afflicted with foxing or fungus. The worst I've seen silverfish do is when paintings & ephemera with unusual ink mixtures or paints get eaten off the surface of the paper, but of the paper itself not a nibble.
That comes direct from an archivist & antiquarian bookseller with decades of experience. William Lyon knows a great deal about insects & has knocked off a couple hundred of these "Bug FAQ" sheets assisted by students. He knows nothing about paper, paper preservation, or the specific problems insects present to archivsts.
-paggers
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I feel I have to jump in here (this is one of those YMMV situations). 30-some years ago, I sub-let a basement apartment from friends, who warned me that the suite had silverfish. It wasn't a huge problem for them, since they had cats who would playwith/eat them, and keep them under control. Nevertheless, they mentioned it to me. I should mention that this apt was in an old bldg that was steam heated - in fact, the feed pipes ran along the ceiling in my main hallway. It was always hot as hell, and dry as the Sahara. To cut it short, I had put a paper lantern shade on my bedroon ceiling light fixture, which proved to be a silverfish buffet. After a few months, it was full of holes. Oddly, (thankfully) when I moved out of there, they didn't follow me.
(paghat) wrote:

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In article <pighash-
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com says...

Do you have a URL for that info?
Thanks...
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@THAT-DOMAIN-IN.SIG says... :) In article <pighash- :) snipped-for-privacy@news.isp.giganews.com>, :) snipped-for-privacy@aol.com says... :) > snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote: :) > :) > > Silverfish eat paper that is already damp & decaying, not otherwise. :) > :) > Silverfish love newspaper in our basement. The basement is damp in the :) > summer, but the paper doesn't decay on its own. We have a dehumidifier :) > in the basement. They seem to keep nibbling at the edges until big :) > sections are missing. :) > :) > One trick that helps is to moisten a newspaper (so that it was damp but :) > not soaking) roll up the newspaper and tie it with an elastic. Do this :) > at night and the next morning slowly open up the newspaper (it should be :) > full of silverfish) next either burn the newspaper or empty into a :) > garbage can outside the house. Do this every night until the newspaper :) > no longer has any silverfish in it. :) > :) > Actually the common term silverfish includes: :) > Silverfish - Lepisma saccharina L. :) > Four-Lined Silverfish - Ctenolepisma quadriseriata :) > Long-Tailed or Gray Silverfish - Ctenolepisma longicaudata Esch. :) > Firebrat - Thermobia domestica :) > :) > According to the Ohio State University, silverfish and firebrats eat: :) > glue, wallpaper paste, bookbindings, paper, photographs, starch in :) > clothing, cotton, linen, rayon fabrics, wheat flour, cereals, dried :) > meats, leather and even dead insects. :) :) :) Do you have a URL for that info? :) :) Thanks... :)
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2108.html http://entowww.tamu.edu/fieldguide/aimg2.html
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http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2108.html
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