In people’s homes, silverfish and firebrats feed on starchy materials, such as book bindings, paper glue, wallpaper paste, pasta, etc. Their diet is extremely varied and they can survive solely on dust.
These insects can cause damage to a library’s books and archives. These generally harmless creatures are introduced into homes with boxes that have been stored in damp basements or storage areas.
To eliminate silverfish or firebrats, the first thing to do is correct excess moisture problems. Repair leaky faucets, ventilate bathrooms and wrap or insulate pipes that have excessive condensation. Get rid of damp or mouldy books and boxes. Vacuum regularly to remove food and insect eggs.
Sticky traps can be used. Diatomaceous earth is recommended for infestations; repeat applications may be necessary, because it absorbs moisture and loses its effectiveness in damp areas.
Silverfish and firebrats can be easily trapped by wrapping the outside of a glass jar with masking tape. The insects will climb up the taped surface, but become trapped in the jar because they have no traction on the smooth glass. Set the trap upright wherever you have seen silverfish or firebrats, preferably in a corner. Add soapy water to the jar to kill any silverfish that you have trapped.
Infested items such as clothing and books can be bundled up and placed in the freezer, or outside in the winter, for several days. Freezing will kill all life stages.