getting rid of silverfish without hurting spiders?
August 14, 2019 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to get rid of silverfish without hurting the local spiders? Diatomaceous earth seemed promising, but it's bad for spiders.

I have a lot of books, and I recently found a small number of silverfish in the book boxes. (Only 3 or 4 in about 70 boxes of books - but I'd prefer zero.) (Also, I know silverfish often like humid places; I don't think my storage space is particularly humid, so that's good.)

Is there any way to get rid of the silverfish (and anything else that might eat my books) without hurting the local spiders?

Also, if you've used diatomaceous earth, can you tell me more about how it's supposedly safe around children and pets, but it's recommended that you use a face mask when setting it out? I don't have kids or pets, but I'm wary about breathing the stuff in as it sits around waiting for the silverfish.

posted by kristi to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Although the powder is non-toxic, it might be accidentally inhaled when laying it out for pests. This isn’t hazardous but could irritate the nasal passages." Source.

Re: spreading vs sitting: When you're spreading it you're creating a degree of diatomaceous earth dust because you're shaking it out of the container, moving it around, and so on. So it might make you sneeze or whatever.

When it's just sitting there, no dust--thus, no problem.
posted by flug at 10:35 AM on August 14, 2019

Spiders will go where the prey is, so if you're able to eliminate prey in your book boxes then the spiders won't even bother and you won't be hurting them.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:14 AM on August 14, 2019

In my experience, killing all the silverfish works. By that I mean, most pests you can't eliminate by killing the individuals, either because there is always a new supply from outside, or because they lay millions of eggs. But I can see a significant difference between when I am home, and kill silverfish as I clean, and when I am not home, and the kids clean less and are less vigilant.
posted by mumimor at 1:47 PM on August 14, 2019

Best answer: My son (15) hates silverfish with a white hot passion and he read that cinnamon and cedar shavings work so he put little dishes of those in places he saw silverfish and according to him after a week no more silverfish. That was over a year ago and i haven't heard him mention them again, and i know he changes out the dishes periodically.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:40 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Searching for more info on the cedar and cinnamon approach led me to info on creating traps, so I'm definitely going to try a trap and a bunch of cinnamon and see what happens.

(Apparently spiders don't like cedar or cinnamon either, but at least it won't hurt them.)

Also: all my books will now smell like cinnamon! Heh.

These are all super helpful - thank you!
posted by kristi at 2:36 PM on August 16, 2019

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