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January 10, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

What steps can I take, and what products can I use, to successfully eliminate silverfish from my house for good?

In particular, how can I store (truckloads of) books so that silverfish can't snack on them? What else will they eat once the books are gone?
posted by freshwater_pr0n to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh, I hate those nasty little buggers.

The only thing that ever worked for me was replacing my plumbing and reducing the moisture in my house with a dehumidifier. If they are already in your books, you might be screwed. Store your books in a well lit, dry area of your home. The damn things love book binding glue, lay tons of eggs, and can go for weeks without eating.

There are a number of insecticides that work, a Google search should provide a link. Be sure to treat between walls and floor boards since they like glue so much. If you think they've gotten into your walls, you'll need to drill holes and treat inside the wall. Even if the insecticide works, you've still got to deal with old pipes and moisture to prevent re infestation.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:15 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: After/while they eat your books, they will eat newspaper, paper bags, anything with glue, the starch in your clothes... They live in dark, damp places. So, dehumidify, light everything up as best as you can, and use boric acid to poison them.
posted by Houstonian at 10:23 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Houstonian has the answer. Also, you can treat your yard to reduce the numbers living outside -- I use triazicide or spectracide for full-yard treatments, and then you just have to deal with the ones living inside your house. The answer for inside the house is to dehumidify and get the books properly aired out on shelves in a well-lit room with a dehumidifier. If they're in boxes in a dark basement, they're bug-bait.
posted by SpecialK at 10:54 AM on January 10, 2010

Books don't do that well in moist environments, anyway, so getting rid of moisture is really important. If the books are boxed, they should be off the floor on pallets - you can find free pallets on craigslist. Hose pallets off and dry thoroughly unless they are pristine. I found that moving air helped reduce mildew, and running a fan is relatively cheap, in addition to the dehumidifier. Here's some info.
posted by theora55 at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2010

Best answer: Diatomaceous earth is excellent. Non-toxic, inexpensive, and it works!

Get the food grade one, not the pool one! You can buy it from Dirt Works, and other places. I found some that also has pyrethrum in it, GREAT for bed bugs, carpet beetles, etc.

Safe around kids and pets, you just sprinkle it around where you see the bugs, and they walk through it, and... die...

When I buy old books, I put them in a plastic bag and then pop them into the freezer for a week or so. That helps kill of any living bugs in them.

With a large number of books, I would put them in plastic bins to store them after I was sure they were clean and dry. Some Arm and Hammer or borax sprinkled over them, then shake the books gently by the spines to get all the dust and stuff off.
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had an exterminator treat my new-to-me house for them - they were EVERYWHERE - how the previous bookworm owners lived with that level of infestation I don't know. He had me remove all of the switch plate and electrical socket covers and shot the white powder he used to kill them inside the walls. He said that treating just the interior of the room wouldn't touch them. They live in the walls, generally the higher up in the structure the better. I wish I could tell you what the white powder was, but they were completely eradicated. but whatever you use, get it inside the walls.
posted by cecic at 11:52 AM on January 10, 2010

Yes, be sure to check/treat anything that's affixed with any type of glue, like kitchen counter-tops and such. (This is anecdotal advice from years ago when I lived in DC, but those were the kinds of places I'd find them.)

Thank god I've never seen them here -- holy hell they are nasty! Good luck!
posted by trip and a half at 4:48 PM on January 10, 2010

Yes, be sure to check/treat anything that's affixed with any type of glue
Note that plywood or particleboard -- which most of your house is probably clad with -- is glue.

Don't just treat for bugs, treat the perimeter of the house and then find where the humidity or water is coming from that's attracting them indoors.
posted by SpecialK at 5:57 PM on January 10, 2010

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