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Silverfish: What Are They And How To Get Rid Of Them


To some people, insects are already a part of their lives and seem to have come to expect them inside their homes. They have learned to adjust to having these unwelcome visitors by having their insecticides ready. Insects, when outdoors, can be beneficial to the ecosystem in many ways: by pollination, by being food to other beneficial animals, and by being natural predators of other more dangerous pests themselves. Indoors, they are simply pests. 

Among the household pests that bother homeowners is the silverfish. These insects infest kitchens, bathrooms, and dark areas in the house. They can also be found under the sinks, in storage boxes, bookcases, old stacks of magazines and newspapers, behind the wallpaper, window or door frames, and wall voids. They love to feed on starch, and are very destructive to books and paper where there is glue on them, fabrics, cereals, and other dry stored food, clothes, bathroom products, and plant materials. They are not only a nuisance, but their damages can also be costly. 


As household pests, silverfish are among the most common in the United States. They are considered as nuisance pests and are not really harmful to humans. Unlike their fellow pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches, and mice, they do not transmit any disease. They are nocturnal, so they prefer to look for food at night and stay in dark places during the day.

As pests, they damage food, especially sugary and starchy ones that are found in our kitchens and pantries. They also do so much damage to books, papers, important documents, photographs, cardboard, and even clothing. A lot of people really suffer from the presence of these insects alone.

Silverfish are small insects; they grow only to a maximum of 2.5 cm in length. They are silver metallic in color, and their appearance somewhat resembles a fish. They have very long antennae, as long as their bodies. Aside from looking like a fish, they resemble the appearance of a fish, and they also move like a fish with its wiggling motion; thus, their name. They run fast, which is their protection from predators. Their extraordinary quickness applies only on horizontal surfaces; they are not capable of climbing walls, unlike most other insects.

Since they are nocturnal and prefer dark places, they are not immediately noticeable. By the time you realize that you have silverfish at home, it would be highly likely that their population has increased.      

Signs Of A Silverfish Infestation

One good indicator that you have silverfish in the house is the small holes and scrapes on paper, books, and magazines. Another indicator is the presence of yellow stains on clothing made of synthetic fibers. You may also chance upon them scampering around the house.  

A silverfish infestation also tells us something about the state of our house. In particular, when you have silverfish, it means you have a damp problem. Silverfish love damp places, and you might be giving them a very nice place to stay. Fix leaking pipes, if any. Use dehumidifiers and improve ventilation.

Types Of Silverfish

There is not just one type of silverfish in the United States. Below is a list of the types of silverfish:

Bristletail - These are the ones that are usually referred to as silverfish. They have three tails at the end of their abdominal segment, hence the name bristletail. Their bodies are cylindrical in shape. Usually found outdoors, they prefer grassy areas or wooded areas. They can be found under decaying leaves, under rocks, under logs, and under stones. They feed on dried beef, beef extract, and other items that are high in protein.  

Jumping bristletail - This type of silverfish are small. They have strong legs and abdomen, allowing them to become jumping insects and resemble a shrimp because of their hunched backs. Like the bristletail, they also have three long and thin tails at the end of their abdomens. They do not have wings so they cannot fly. They have large eyes on top of their heads. Their scales look coppery metallic when under the light.  

They have different food preferences diet compared to the other silverfish. They prefer dead leaves, rotting vegetation, and other decaying organic matter. They live under rocks, logs, leaf litter, stones, and other moist areas.

Firebrat - Firebrats have long and thin bodies with hairs that look like spikes. They have yellowish plates that look like scales. They have three long and thin tails found at the end of their abdomens. They do not have wings so they cannot fly but they move quickly and can run very fast. They are mere nuisance pests and do not hurt or bite humans.  

They prefer to be indoors and near warm areas, like ovens, furnaces, and stoves. We can also sometimes see them in between the pages of books because they feed on the glue that holds books together. Libraries are some of their usual victims. They also eat fabrics made from plants. Cotton and linen are part of their diet.  

Grey silverfish - The gray silverfish are solitary insects that have flat bodies, three thin tails found at the tip of their abdomens, and a pair of long antennae. They have slippery scales that cover their bodies and that prevents larger insects from getting hold of them. This is to protect them from predators. Aside from that, they can run very fast and can outrun any threat. They can be found in dark, warm areas of the house, like inside ovens, clothes dryer, bathroom vents, furnaces, and fireplaces.

They are attracted to sweet and starchy foods. For this reason, they can be usually found in the kitchen and pantry where flour, sugar, potatoes, and other items full of starch are found. Aside from food, you can also find them in between the pages of books because they feed in the glue that is used to hold the pages together. It is also worth noting too, that gray silverfish can live without food for months.  

They can hide in cracks and crevices because they are so thin. They are also nocturnal, so we do not always encounter them.

Four-lined silverfish - This type of silverfish can be identified by the 4 lines in their abdomen. They are much stouter, longer, and less shiny than the common silverfish. They infest our homes and can be found anywhere, like the basement, attic, and wall voids. They can also be found in flower bed mulch. They feed on our stored dry foods, as well as paper, magazines, and books.


Silverfish nuisance pests that nobody wants to have. They can destroy our belongings if not checked.

Before you do, and if you have the time, you may follow these simple tips on how to get rid of the silverfish yourself.   

  1. Remove clutter around your house. Silverfish love hiding in old newspapers, magazines, and books.
  2. Invest in dehumidifiers, and improve ventilation to remove your damp problems. Silverfish prefer damp places.
  3. Seal off cracks and crevices.  Silverfish are so thin that they can fit into small cracks. These cracks and crevices can either be used as their entry points, or as hiding places where they can lay their eggs.  
  4. Use diatomaceous earth. These are made up of fossilized remains of diatoms. Diatomaceous earth is powdery materials that resemble little shards of glass that can cause small cuts into the bodies of insects. When silverfish crawls on them, it would cause tiny cuts which would make them bleed and dehydrate them to death. Apply these in the evening since silverfish are nocturnal. You can buy diatomaceous earth from a local gardening store near you.  
  5. Keep dust and debris to a minimum by using a vacuum cleaner to vacuum carpets, flooring, and upholstery.  
  6. Reduce their food sources. Keep flour, sugar, potatoes, and other starchy and sweet foods in a sealed container.  
  7. Fix leaking pipes and faucets. This would reduce water sources that silverfish like. Keep gutters free of debris.  
  8. Use sticky traps. As bait, you may use a small piece of bread and put it beside the trap. The bread would attract silverfish.  
  9. Use insecticide. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Be sure to store these insecticides out of the reach of children and pests. Once emptied, dispose of the container properly.  
  10. Try using boric acid. Sprinkle this on areas you often see silverfish. This can kill silverfish and their eggs. Be careful not to inhale this as it is harmful to the lungs. 

To get rid of silverfish, you may want to enlist the services of the best pest control management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Home Services.  

Follow These Tips For A Silverfish-free Home

If you are still having silverfish problems, call Go-Forth Home Services. At Go-Forth Home Services, we have a team of expert technicians who are highly skilled and well-trained, using only the latest and most advanced equipment in the business.  

Go-Forth Home Services is a family-owned business that has earned the trust of residents and business establishments in North Carolina for more than 50 years. For inquiries, or to set an appointment, you may call (877) 274-1475. Their friendly operators are standing by and always ready to assist you.