We got a call last week from a homeowner who had what she thought was a silverfish problem in her bathroom. When our technician arrived to perform his pest control inspection, he easily located the infestation, but the pests weren’t silverfish at all; they were earwigs. We can totally understand the confusion; a lot of people tend to get these two pests mixed up. Both silverfish and earwigs look a lot alike and they even behave similarly; enough so that we thought we’d explore the differences between silverfish and earwigs to help out anyone who may have come upon one of these pests and can’t determine which insect they’ve got residing in their home or on their Northern FL property.
Earwigs are nocturnal insects that have smooth, long bodies with a pair of almost curved pincers on the tail end of their abdomen. They are reddish brown and range in size from .25 inches to .5 inches in length. You can find some earwigs that have wings, while others don’t, but the winged variety rarely ever flies. Their bodies are hard, similar to the bodies of beetles.
Silverfish are also nocturnal insects and they like to stay hidden from humans. They have an oval, elongated body with six legs and three straight appendages on the ends of their abdomen that are soft and almost hair-like. Silverfish are longer than earwigs, at around .75 inches long. When they run, their movements appear similar to that of a fish. There are no species of silverfish that have wings, but even without wings they can move very quickly! Their elongated bodies are what make them look so similar to earwigs, but they are more silver/tan in color. If you were to rub a silverfish with a tissue, you would find the scales would leave a mark on the tissue, similar to what happens when you touch a moth.
Do earwigs bite? Yes, they can use their pincers to pinch you and it can be a painful pinch. They are not known for transmitting any diseases with their pinch and they are not poisonous.
Do silverfish bite? No, silverfish do not bite.
Earwigs and silverfish both can be found in moist environments. Earwigs are typically found outdoors in very wet areas, including in the grass under rocks, beneath wet mulch or in piles of decaying leaves. When found indoors, they’ll be near sinks, in bathrooms, attics or any other area of high moisture.
Silverfish are commonly found in basements and attics; both areas of a home that offer the dampness that these insects need.
Earwigs like to feed on live or decaying vegetation and some species of earwigs will hunt insects and other arthropods for food.
Silverfish will feed on paper items as well as sugars and starches.
As you can see, there are quite a few differences between earwigs and silverfish, but until you’ve seen them both together, you may still find it difficult to determine which of these pests you have inside your home. Check out our earwig pest identification page and our pest identification page for silverfish to get closer looks at these pests!
If you have any questions about the pests you’re seeing inside your home or you would like to schedule your first appointment with our professional and qualified technicians to help you get rid of silverfish or get rid of earwigs, please give us a call! We’d be happy to discuss your pest problem and advise you on a solution for taking care of your pest concerns. Contact McCall today for more information on earwig control, silverfish control or any other pests that are bothering you!
Locally owned and operated, McCall Services provides pest control in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala, Tampa and Tallahassee as well as throughout Northern Florida.