The 411 on Silverfish


Silverfish are household pests, ranging from 12 to 19 mm in size and presenting in a variety of colors including white, brown-grey, and bluish-silver. These pests are wingless with a flat appearance and 3 thread-like tails. Their bodies are covered with scales they use as protection from their predators. Their size and shape allow them hide in small spaces.

Silverfish feed on starch and sugar and find a plethora of food options to feast on in your home. They commonly eat paste from book bindings, photos, clothing, carpets, bedding, curtains, old papers, wallpaper paste, shampoo, dead insects, pasta, flour, cereal, and other common starches. For this reason they are often found in kitchens and pantries.

Silverfish also like to inhabit dark, damp areas and will also be found in bathrooms, basements, attics, and laundry rooms. When they aren’t indoors, these creatures live in the soil around your home. Dry weather will send them inside in search of a more humid environment; conversely, excessively wet weather will also send them inside to keep from drowning. They enter your home through gaps and cracks in the walls and foundations and through unsealed doors and windows.

Silverfish are shy and will usually hide from humans. They are also extremely fast, a skill they use to escape predators. They can’t bite; their jaws aren’t strong enough to pierce human skin. They will cause damage to your home, however, by chewing fabrics (curtains, bedding, etc.), contaminating food they are eating, and triggering allergies (usually by shedding scales).

Common signs of silverfish include:

  • Holes, notches, etches, etc. on surfaces where they feed
  • Yellow stains or discarded scales
  • Feces in the form of tiny black pellets

One or two silverfish aren’t usually a threat to your home; a bigger infestation can cause issues. You can prevent silverfish by:

  • Sealing the exterior of your home
  • Ensuring door sweeps and screens are in good working order
  • Keeping the perimeter of your home clean and dry
  • Using a dehumidifier in damp areas like basements and crawlspaces
  • Clearing out cluttered areas of your home
  • Removing piles of wet leaves from your yard
  • Storing firewood off the ground
  • Cleaning out closets and cabinets and dusting bookshelves
  • Storing food in airtight containers

If you have a problem with silverfish or any other pest, contact your local pest control company for a thorough evaluation.

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