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Silverfish Extermination Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Silverfish are small, wingless insects with a silvery-gray color. These pests are common in homes, where they feed on various items, including paper, book bindings, and even clothing. While they do not carry diseases, silverfish cause significant damage to your home, from eating holes in carpets and clothing to destroying important documents and contaminating food. Silverfish can be difficult to control once they enter a home because they reproduce rapidly. It is important to prevent silverfish from entering your home in the first place. If you find silverfish in your home, contact a professional exterminator to get rid of them.
Costs vary depending on the severity of the infestation, location in your home, and the treatment option used. The national average cost to exterminate silverfish is between $200 and $700. Most people pay around $400 to get rid of a moderate infestation in a 2,000 sq.ft. home with diatomaceous earth and a follow-up visit. At the low end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay around $150 for a single visit from a pest control technician to apply insecticide to a single room. At the high end, you can pay up to $9,000 to get rid of a severe infestation in a 3,500 sq.ft. house through fumigation.
Silverfish Pest Control Price
|Silverfish Exterminator Cost|
|National average cost||$400|
Silverfish Pest Control Cost by Home Size
While most silverfish pest control services are charged on a treatment basis, you can expect costs to vary between $0.10 and $0.35 per sq.ft. The biggest factor is the location’s size. The number of rooms that require extermination affects the amount of time and effort required to eradicate the silverfish population. The smaller the area, the less expensive the treatment will be. Similarly, the type of home plays a role in the extermination costs. Houses with multiple floors or difficult-to-reach spaces require special treatments or equipment. The table below shows the most common house sizes and the cost of silverfish extermination with pesticides or diatomaceous earth.
|Home Size||Cost per Treatment|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$100 - $350|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$150 - $525|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$200 - $700|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$250 - $875|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$300 - $1,050|
|3,500 sq.ft.||$250 - $1,225|
Silverfish Treatment Cost by Method
Depending on the method used to exterminate silverfish, your costs will range between $150 and $6,000 per visit. The primary treatment plans for exterminating silverfish include pyrethrins and diatomaceous earth. More severe infestations may require fumigation treatment. Pyrethrins are chemical pesticides. Diatomaceous earth is a natural material harvested from lake bed sediment. Fumigation uses chemical gases to exterminate silverfish. For safety reasons and maximum effectiveness, these substances should only be applied by professionals. Below is a table with the prices for a 2,000 sq.ft. home and information about each method.
|Treatment||Cost per Visit|
|Pesticide (Pyrethrins)||$150 - $300|
|Diatomaceous Earth||$200 - $400|
|Fumigation||$2,000 - $6,000|
A single visit to treat a home with silverfish pesticide costs between $150 and $300. With very few exceptions, exterminators treat your home for silverfish with pyrethrins. Pyrethrins have been a common ingredient in insecticides since the 1950s. These pesticides are safer than others, but they are still dangerous to children and pets if directly ingested. Silverfish reproduce quickly. They sometimes enter the home by transport in unopened food from the grocery store. It’s common to require recurring treatments.
Silverfish Diatomaceous Earth
Applying diatomaceous earth costs between $200 and $400 per visit. If you don’t want to spray pesticides in your home, some exterminators perform their treatments with 100% all-natural Diatomaceous Earth. As a natural pesticide, DE is nearly as effective as pyrethrins. An exterminator inspects your home, identifies the infestation source, and then sprinkles it over the entire area. DE only works if it physically touches the silverfish. That’s the primary difference between treating silverfish with pesticides and treating them with DE. Pyrethrins work even when they’re only in proximity to silverfish, but DE must make physical contact with the insect to be effective. For a single application, an exterminator inspects your home, identifies the nesting area, and covers the room with DE.
If you have a 2,000 sq.ft. home, expect to pay $2,000 to $6,000 for silverfish fumigation. Silverfish are difficult to control once they establish themselves in a home, but fumigation can effectively eliminate them. This method involves using a fumigant or gas to kill the silverfish and other pests. The sulfuryl fluoride gas penetrates all the cracks and crevices where silverfish hide, killing them on contact. The gas does not leave an odor or a residue. You will not find a company that specifically fumigates for silverfish, but any termite fumigation company provides the service you need.
Silverfish Extermination Cost by Frequency
Usually, pest extermination companies charge $150 to $400 for the initial visit and recommend a recurring plan to ensure silverfish are exterminated from your home. Companies offer several silverfish plans, most being on a per visit, monthly, or quarterly basis. It is recommended to hire a silverfish extermination service once a year to ensure your home is clean and pest-free. However, you should hire a pest control service more often if your home is prone to infestations.
During a quarterly treatment, the technician will apply pesticide to your home’s interior surfaces once every four months. This kills any silverfish that are present and prevents future infestations. The exterminator can identify and treat any potential infestations before they have a chance to take hold. A monthly silverfish extermination service is the most expensive because the technicians come more often to your home. However, it will ensure that your home remains completely pest-free. Here is how much you can expect to spend on a recurring plan.
|Frequency of Visits||Cost per Year|
|Annually||$150 - $400|
|Quarterly||$300 - $700|
|Monthly||$500 - $1,250|
Silverfish Extermination Cost by Level of Infestation
Depending on the level of silverfish infestation, your costs range between $150 for a small infestation and $8,000 for a severe infestation. Silverfish feed primarily on carbohydrates and protein, which they can find in items such as paper, fabrics, and leather. Since silverfish are small insects, they can squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices around your home. This means that they can infest even the smallest homes.
If you notice silverfish near food sources, such as kitchen cabinets or pantries, or see them scurrying across floors or walls, you may have a small infestation. You may be able to get rid of them by using traps or sprays. If left untreated, a single female silverfish can lay up to 50 eggs in her lifetime. An infestation can quickly get out of control if left unchecked. When the infestation is medium, a pest control company would have to have follow-up visits to eliminate the silverfish. When you see silverfish frequently walking on your walls, floors, clothes, or bedding, you have a large infestation. This is a job only licensed pest control technicians can handle through multiple visits. It is important to hire a professional to help you eliminate the silverfish.
|Infestation Level||Cost per Treatment|
|Small||$150 - $400|
|Medium||$280 - $700|
|Large||$600 - $8,000|
Silverfish Pest Control Cost by Location
Depending on the room you want to remove silverfish from, your costs range between $200 and $800 per treatment. Silverfish are often found in areas with high humidity, such as attics, basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. However, they can spread to other areas of the home, including the bedroom, closet, and attic. They may spread to the carpet and any other areas with enough humidity and food. Even your home’s light fixtures and walls can be a breeding ground for silverfish. Remember that even if you have only seen silverfish in one small area of a room, the exterminator treats the entire room and, in some cases, adjacent rooms.
|Location||Cost per Treatment|
|Light Fixtures||$200 - $350|
|Bedroom||$200 - $400|
|Kitchen||$200 - $400|
|Closet||$200 - $400|
|Wardrobe||$200 - $400|
|Bathroom||$200 - $700|
|Carpet||$300 - $800|
|Attic||$300 - $800|
|Wall||$300 - $800|
Cost to Get Rid of Silverfish by Company
Depending on the extermination company, you can spend between $500 and $1,250 on an annual pest control plan that includes silverfish extermination. A number of companies offer silverfish extermination services in the U.S. The most popular are Rentokil, Orkin, and Terminix. These companies use various methods to control silverfish populations, including baiting, traps, and chemicals. In addition, they provide advice on how to prevent silverfish from returning in the future. Here are the most popular companies that provide these services and the average cost of each.
|Company||Annual Pest Control Plan Cost|
|Terminix||$500 - $700|
|Orkin||$550 - $950|
|Rentokil||$600 - $1,250|
Silverfish Infestation by Type
Six types of silverfish may be identified. They all look very similar but can be distinguished by slightly different markings and colorations. Since all silverfish have the same life and reproduction cycles, there is no price difference for exterminating the various types. The cost to exterminate silverfish depends on the treatment.
Gray Silverfish are also known as long-tailed silverfish and paper silverfish. They grow up to two inches in length, making them the largest of the species. Their bodies are gray to dark gray with a sheen but no distinctive markings. You most commonly find them in dark drawers and cupboards where food crumbs and paper are abundant.
The Four-Lined Silverfish has four black lines running down its back. They can be as long as an inch and a half making them bigger than other silverfish. This type of silverfish is distinctively tan with a gray cast. They prefer temperatures that are slightly warmer than other silverfish but still prefer high-humidity environments. Four-lined silverfish are especially common under roof shingles and in attics.
Firebrats get their name from their love of heat. If you have a silverfish problem in your chimney, fireplace, or oven, you’re probably dealing with Firebrats. These insects also like nesting near heating ducts, making it difficult to know that you have a problem. The Firebrat’s elongated and oblong bodies have a yellow sheen.
Even though the Bristletail Silverfish is the most common subspecies, it is unlikely that you’ll find them in your home. They prefer to be outdoors and do not often venture inside. Their favorite environments for living and nesting include under tree bark and decaying leaves. The Bristletail Silverfish’s eating preferences are distinctly different from other subspecies that more frequently invade homes. They eat mostly algae, mosses, and lichens that grow in woody areas.
Common Silverfish are silver to gray, with no other distinctive marks on its segmented body. It is wingless and only an inch in length. They prefer to live indoors in dark, humid spaces with access to food. You most often find Common Silverfish living in kitchens, damp basements, and bathrooms. Individually, it’s easy to catch a Common Silverfish in a trap, but just one sighting in your home usually indicates a bigger problem that should be treated by a professional.
The Jumping Bristletail (aka jumping silverfish) is a subspecies of Bristletail Silverfish. These are some of the smallest silverfish measuring just under an inch. Their smooth bodies are either silver or black, with no defining markings. Like regular Bristletails, they’re probably not causing problems in your home. They prefer to live outside under rocks and trees. A Jumping Bristletail gets most of its cellulose from decaying leaves.
Signs of a Silverfish Infestation
Silverfish are insects found in all 50 states. So, it is very common for a few to make their way indoors, particularly if they find a food source. If they locate food and the conditions are just right, they move in permanently and begin breeding. If this happens, you may notice a few insects as your first sign. They may be in the bathroom or another damp area or near a food source, such as books, wallpaper, lumber, newspapers, cereal boxes, or bags of flour. If you see a few silverfish in one area, look more closely for an infestation. When silverfish molt, they leave behind a casing (shed skin), which may be near the area where they eat. Their feces are small dots that look similar to pepper.
You may also see these near areas where they have been eating. Places, where they have been invading, will have yellow stains, especially on clothes and papers. If you spot small holes in your flour bags, cereal boxes, curtains, or books, these can be signs of silverfish. If you look at the area where the hole leads, you may find the insects themselves. Silverfish are nocturnal, so you are most likely to spot them and signs of their activity at night. They are likely to live in damp, dark, and quiet places, such as bathrooms, attics, basements, closets, storage rooms, and some kitchen cabinets.
All About Silverfish
Silverfish (aka fish moths or urban silverfish) are small, wingless insects with six legs and a metallic sheen. They are between 0.5 inch and 2 inches long and move in a fish-like manner, hence their name. Silverfish can be grey, white, light brown, silver, or yellow. These nocturnal insects are often mistaken for earwigs, but unlike the common “pincher bug,” silverfish do not bite people or pets.
Silverfish Life Cycle
Silverfish live between two and three years. In that time, females lay up to 100 eggs. It can take up to 43 days from the point of fertilization for eggs to hatch. Silverfish have a three-stage life cycle, which means that they start in eggs, hatch as nymphs, and mature into adults. Once hatched, nymphs look identical to their parents. They molt (shed their skin) many times before they are full-grown adults. For silverfish to mature into adults takes around four months. Unlike most insects, silverfish molt throughout their adult life. The skin they leave behind is a common allergen for humans.
What Do Silverfish Eat?
Silverfish are not harmful to your family, but they can be destructive to the paper, clothing, and wallpaper in your home. These insects eat items with cellulose, the most common complex carbohydrate. Cellulose is found in a wide variety of household items. These items include the fruits and vegetables in your kitchen and the adhesive used to bind packaged food, books, and wallpaper. Sometimes silverfish even enter the house through unopened boxes of packaged food. When they enter your home, they seek out dark crevices with plenty to eat. You’ll most likely find them in bookshelves, linen cabinets, and kitchen drawers and behind wallpaper.
Where Do Silverfish Lay Eggs?
Silverfish lay eggs in nests. The most preferred places for nests are dark, humid crevices in attics, basements, and around heating/cooling ducts. Kitchen cabinets are also preferred because forgotten crumbs offer a constant food source. Nests are extremely hard to spot because of their remote location and because they are so small. Silverfish eggs are only 0.5 ml long. Hiring a professional is the best way to identify and treat an infestation.
What Attracts Silverfish?
All subspecies of silverfish are attracted to dark, damp places that offer an ample source of cellulose. Any environment with at least 75% humidity will be preferable to the insects. Silverfish also love areas where they won’t be disturbed. Areas attractive to silverfish include drawers, closets, and unopened boxes.
Are Silverfish Dangerous?
Silverfish bugs pose almost no harm to both people and pets. They are not poisonous, do not bite or sting, and do not transmit diseases. They have very little jaw strength, which makes it almost impossible for them to bite anything. You do not need to be concerned about yourself or your pet being injured in any way by silverfish.
The only minor safety consideration with silverfish in your home is allergens. Silverfish molt (shed their skin) up to 50 times in their lifetime. They leave many casings around in addition to their droppings. If the shed skin is not removed through routine cleanings, it could irritate the lungs, sinuses, and skin of people with severe allergies or asthma.
Silverfish Damage Repair Cost
The real issue with silverfish is the damage they can do to your property. Clothes, curtains, newspapers, books, and grains are some household items silverfish eat. Because they live for up to three years and reproduce as many as 50 times during those three years, they can quickly overwhelm a home. What do silverfish damage? They damage almost everything in a home, including clothing, antique books, wallpaper, and in some cases, lumber. If the wallpaper or walls in your home are stained from the silverfish, you can hire a painter to add a new coat of paint for $40 to $60 per hour. However, if the damage is more serious, installing a new wallpaper may be the better option. This would cost $800 to $1,200.
Unless the clothing is made from silk, which contains cellulose, silverfish damage to clothes is inadvertent on the silverfish’s part. They do not eat cotton, wool, and polyester. However, they eat the tiny bits of food residue and crumbs the washing machine missed. While they attempt to eat the food lodged deep in textiles, they chew through clothing and ruin it. To repair minor clothing damage from silverfish, expect to pay between $25 and $100. The silverfish may also stain your upholstery, requiring upholstery cleaning services that cost $100 to $250. However, if they cause damage to the upholstery, you will have to reupholster your furniture, which can be expensive. For instance, reupholstering a couch brings your costs to $750 to $3,500.
Wood also contains cellulose, so silverfish may cause wood damage. However, it is not necessarily costly to repair. Silverfish have very little jaw strength, so when they scrape the surface of lumber, the damage is cosmetic at most. If you notice the top coat of your furniture has been damaged, you can hire furniture refinishing services to give your items their old shine back.
How to Prevent Silverfish
Prevention takes many forms depending on the location of the silverfish, how many there are, and your geographic location. The exterminator may suggest storing food in airtight containers and ensuring that crumbs and food residue are always cleaned up. To reduce the humidity and overall water usage in your home, run a dehumidifier in damp areas, insulate pipes to reduce condensation, and seal up any water or moisture leaks. In the attic, you can also install vents and attic fans to reduce humidity buildup. In the basement, cover dirt basement floors with plastic to seal them, treat any mold or mildew, and seal up cracks around your home where the silverfish may be entering. Throwing out old newspapers, boxes, and other piles will give insects fewer places to hide. Lastly, be diligent about regularly airing out closets, clothing, trunks, and other storage areas.
Once you have done all this, consider placing a silverfish deterrent like cinnamon or boric acid around your home. These have varying degrees of effectiveness and may not kill the insects. Silverfish mothballs are another repellant. Place them all around the areas in where you suspect a problem. Cedarwood and cedar oil are also repellents because the smell is noxious to silverfish. Spread the scent around your clothes, books, and other silverfish-friendly items to keep them away. Anything stored in an infested area, including boxes and plastic containers, allows the pests to spread.
Extermination is only one piece of the puzzle for completely ridding your home of silverfish. Most exterminators advise you on the best methods for preventing silverfish. Otherwise, the exterminator may need to make monthly visits to keep them away. Silverfish prevention and control require you to be proactive. Even If you see silverfish but do not think that you have an infestation, you can use silverfish bait traps to eliminate the few you see.
Silverfish vs Earwig Control Cost
Earwig extermination costs $100 to $400. The average cost to get rid of silverfish is $200 to $700. Silverfish and earwig are often lumped together because they are both small, wingless, and have long bodies. However, there are several differences between them. The most distinguishing feature of silverfish is their long antennae, which are almost as long as their bodies. Earwigs, on the other hand, have much shorter antennae. Silverfish are covered in fine scales, whereas earwigs have hard wing covers. Silverfish are attracted to starchy foods, whereas earwigs feed on plant matter. While both can be nuisances, understanding their differences helps you better identify and control these creatures.
|Pest Insect||Cost to Exterminate|
|Earwig||$100 - $400|
|Silverfish||$200 - $700|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
It is a good idea to hire a house cleaning service after exterminating the silverfish, which costs between $150 and $250. Dead silverfish may be left around after the extermination and need to be removed. While these pests do not carry diseases, they leave behind stains and feces. You may wish to hire cleaners to remove these. They may also leave torn cardboard, pieces of clothing, and residue from the items they nibbled.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Inspection. Most professional extermination companies provide a free inspection that determines the type of silverfish you have in your home, the severity of the infestation, and the best method to exterminate the bugs.
- License. Professionals that provide pest control are required to have a pest control license, also known as a commercial applicator license. Make sure the professional you are hiring has the proper license to perform the pest control safely and efficiently.
- Fumigation gasses. Direct exposure to the chemicals used in fumigation is harmful to humans, pets, and birds. However, when the process is done safely, it causes no harm to the inhabitants or the surroundings.
- DIY. While using natural repellants like boric acid, cinnamon, and citruses is safe to do on your own, when your infestation is medium or large, hiring a professional to exterminate the silverfish is recommended.
- Travel fees. When you hire silverfish extermination services, you also need to consider the travel costs. Some companies charge an extra fee if you are located outside their area of operation or in a remote area. This fee ranges between $40 and $75, depending on your location.
- Extermination guarantee. Ask if the extermination professionals offer an extermination guarantee. This includes the extermination and additional treatments that ensure the silverfish will not appear again in the foreseeable future.
- Is it bad to have silverfish?
Silverfish do not carry diseases, but they can do a lot of damage to your home, including books, wallpaper, curtains, clothes, and some food items.
- Do silverfish have nests?
They do not nest, but they can occupy large areas, especially when the area is quiet, dark, and damp.
- What causes a silverfish infestation?
Most silverfish are lured into your home by the smell of food. They like grains and carbs and are attracted to these things.
- Do silverfish go in beds?
Silverfish prefer quiet, dark, damp spaces. So, it is unlikely that they will visit a frequently used, dry bed.
- What scents do silverfish hate?
Silverfish are not fond of spicy aromas. Cinnamon, cloves, and other strong-smelling spices may keep them away.
- Where do silverfish come from?
Silverfish enter your home through gaps in your exterior building material, searching for dark, damp places to lay eggs. They can also hitch a ride in or on unopened food packaging from the grocery store.
- What temperature kills silverfish?
Silverfish are incredibly resilient. They can withstand a wide temperature change. However, immature silverfish (nymphs) will not survive temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 112 degrees Fahrenheit.
- What do silverfish droppings look like?
Silverfish droppings are tiny black specks that resemble ground black pepper.
- How do silverfish get in the house?
Silverfish enter through small holes in the facade of the house or gaps in the building’s exterior. They can also enter on unopened food packages from the grocery store.
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- FIXR Cost Guides and Cost Database.
- Healthline. “Repel and Prevent Silverfish in Your Home."
- Healthline. “What Are Silverfish and Can They Hurt You?"
- National Pesticide Information Center. “Pyrethrins."
- Orkin. “Are Silverfish Bugs Dangerous?"
- Orkin. “Silverfish Facts and Information.”
- PennState Extension. “Bristletails (Silverfish and Firebrats)."
- The Spruce. “How to Control Bugs That Eat Clothes.”
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.