This Holiday Season, Keep The Silverfish Out Of Your Pantry

December 3, 2019

No, silverfish are not pets you feed in an aquarium. They are not even welcome at home. Silverfish are in fact nuisance pests that should be kept away because of their bothersome nature. They infest kitchens, bathrooms, and dark areas in the house. They are also found under the sinks, in storage boxes, bookcases, old stacks of magazines and newspapers, behind the wallpaper, window or door frames, and wall voids

Silverfish are called as such because of their wiggling movement that resembles that of a fish in the water. It also has a silvery, metallic appearance. Silverfish are also known as “bristletails” due to their three long appendages that look like bristles at the rear end of their bodies.  

Silverfish are present all throughout the United States and prefer moist, humid areas. Silverfish are shy creatures and tend to hide from humans.

Silverfish do not bite, nor do they transmit diseases. They are just nuisance pests that you would want to get rid of.  


Silverfish are as long as 12 mm to 19 mm. They are shaped like a teardrop, as is often described. Some say they are shaped like a carrot; and of course, most people liken them to a fish.  They have flat bodies, typically silvery in color, with long antennae attached to their heads. They have small, widely separated compound eyes.  

Aside from looking like a fish, they also move like a fish, what 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. They are nocturnal, making them unnoticed during much of their stay inside the house.  By the time you realize that you have silverfish inside your house, it would be highly possible that their population has increased.      


Silverfish will breed in different areas. These areas include wall voids, attics, basements, under flooring, and many others. After the male and females mate. female adult silverfish can lay up to 60 eggs. These are laid in crevices. The eggs are white and oval in shape and .8 mm long. This takes from 2 weeks to 4 months to hatch. After they hatch, they become nymphs.  Nymphs are white in color and already resemble the adult silverfish. Even as they molt, they develop a metallic shine and a grayish appearance.  They become adults after 3 months to three years. hey molt around 60 times in their lifetime and are the only creatures that molt even when they are adults.  Silverfish get to live for up to 3 years.


Silverfish are shy and are nocturnal creatures. They do not need to eat or drink daily, but need a high humidity environment of 70  to 90 percent; they thrive in areas that have room temperature of 70 to 85 degrees F.  During the day, they hide in cracks and crevices. They also prefer areas around the house such as kitchens, bathrooms, under the sinks, basements, garages, shake roofs, attics, bedrooms, storage boxes, bookcases, old stacks of magazines and newspapers, behind the wallpaper, window or door frames, and wall voids.  

They are also known to invade offices, stores, and libraries. They are usually introduced inside buildings through cardboard of cartons of books that have come from infested places. They move fast and are good climbers.

Silverfish are attracted to sweet and starchy foods. That is why they can be usually found in the kitchen and pantry where flour, sugar, potatoes, and other items full of starch are found.

Silverfish feed on paper, books, documents, photographs, cardboard, and even clothing. They damage food, especially sugary and starchy ones that are found in kitchens and pantries. They prefer protein to carbohydrates. They even eat their own kind. 

An adult female silverfish can lay 1 to 3 eggs daily, laying them on cracks and crevices. It will take 3 to 4 months to develop under favorable conditions. A silverfish can live up to 3 years.  

Silverfish Infestation Signs

Since silverfish are very shy and nocturnal, they can go unnoticed. However, we can always look at these signs to know if they are present inside the house.  

If you see black pepper-like pellets, these could be silverfish feces. Another good indicator that you have silverfish in the house is the presence of small holes and scrapes on paper, books, and magazines. These could be feeding marks left by silverfish. Yellow stains on clothing made of synthetic fibers are also signs that could give them away.  

Silverfish love damp places, so their presence also tells us that our house may have a damp problem.  

Types Of Silverfish

According to the trusted exterminator for bugs in North Carolina, Below is a rogue's list of the types of silverfish that are usually infesting homes in North Carolina:

1. Bristletail - Bristletails are the ones that are also known as silverfish.  They have three tails that look like bristles at the end of their abdominal segment, that is why they are named as such.  Their bodies are shaped like a carrot; some say it is like a teardrop; some say they are like fish. Usually found outdoors, they prefer grassy areas or wooded areas but they also find their way inside homes through cracks and other openings. 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.  

2. Jumping bristletail - These are small types of silverfish. They have a strong abdomen and legs. The strength of these body parts allows them to become jumping insects and resemble shrimp because of their hunched backs. Like the bristletail, they have three long and thin bristle-like tails at the end of their abdomens. They cannot fly because they do not have wings but can crawl rather quickly. They have large eyes on top of their heads. Their scales look coppery metallic when under the light. They have a different food preference compared with 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.

3. Firebrat-  Firebrats have long and thin bodies. Their bodies have hairs that look like spikes, plus they have yellowish plates that look like scales.  They have three bristle-like tails found at the end of their abdomens. They are not equipped with wings so they cannot fly, but they move quickly and can crawl very fast.  They like to be indoors and near warm areas, like ovens, furnaces, and stoves. They are also sometimes seen between the pages of books. Firebrats feed on the glue that holds books together.  They are commonly found in libraries. They also eat fabrics made from plants. Cotton and linen are part of their diet.  

4. Grey silverfish - These are solitary insects, have flat bodies, three thin tails that look like bristles found at the end of their abdomens, and a pair of long antennae.  They have slippery scales that cover their bodies. This has its own use, as it helps prevent larger insects from getting hold of them and protecting them from predators.  Aside from that, they can crawl 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.

Silverfish Control

There are DIY methods to control that you can employ in getting rid of silverfish.  Here are some tips you can use to get rid of them.

1. Since silverfish thrive in damp areas, try to invest in a dehumidifier.  

2. Repair leaky pipes and drains.  

3. Remove clutter around your house.  Silverfish love hiding in old newspapers, magazines, and books.

4. Keep food items like flour, sugar, potatoes, and other starchy and sweet foods in sealed containers.

5. Use sticky traps.  You may use a small piece of bread and put it beside the trap.  The bread would attract silverfish.

6. Use diatomaceous earth.  These are made up of fossilized remains of diatoms.  Diatomaceous earth resembles little shards of glass that can cause small cuts into the bodies of insects.  When silverfish crawl on them, it would cause tiny cuts that would make them bleed to death. Apply these in the evening since silverfish are nocturnal.  You can buy diatomaceous earth from a local gardening store near you.  

7. Use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum carpets, flooring, and upholstery.

8. Seal off cracks and crevices.  These are possible entry points for silverfish.

Save yourself from all the worries from pests this coming holiday season. This season is best spent with family, not with pests. If you have these unwanted pests in your home, be sure to contact the best pest control management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Pest Control

Go-Forth Pest Control is the leading pest control company in North and South Carolina, with 60 years of solid experience tucked under our belts. 

For more information, or to set an appointment, just dial 336-841-6111.  Our friendly operators are standing by.

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