Silverfish

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Family Lepismatidae

Appearance

What Do Silverfish Look Like?

silverfish illustration
  • Color: white to brown-grey or bluish-silver in color
  • Shape: silverfish are teardrop-shaped insects
  • Length: 12-19 mm in length.
  • Tail: Three long bristles on rear

Facts

Where Do They Live?
Capable of thriving in most climates, silverfish prefer to dwell in dark, damp areas such as basements, attics, kitchens and bathrooms. They are especially attracted to paper and damp clothing. Commonly found in stored boxes in garages and sheds.

What Do They Eat?
Silverfish are known for their destructive feeding habits, oftentimes ruining papers, clothing and wallpaper. Silverfish feed on carbohydrates, particularly sugars and starches. Cellulose, shampoos, glue in books, linen, silk and dead insects may be food sources. They have been found in unopened food packages.

How Did I Get Silverfish?

Homeowners often transport silverfish indoors unknowingly. When brought inside the home, cardboard boxes and plastic containers recently stored in infested areas can allow the pests to spread.

Warm and moist spaces, like basements and crawl spaces, attract silverfish. The pests will enter homes through foundation cracks, torn screens, or gaps around doors. Leaving dirty dishes out in the open will also lure silverfish indoors.

How Serious Are Silverfish Problems?

May Cause Allergies
Silverfish often present a mild risk to people and property. They do not transmit disease, but the pests may trigger allergies in some people.

May Attract Other Pests
Their presence sometimes attracts carpet beetles and causes unease due to their strange appearance.

May Cause Damage to Personal Items
While indoors, silverfish also eat grains and chew large holes into clothing, upholstery, or paper. In large numbers, they can cause a lot of damage. Ruined items often include stored files, books, and vintage clothes.

What Can I Do About Silverfish?

What Orkin Does
The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage silverfish. Since every home is different, the Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Keeping silverfish out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps—Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep silverfish in their place…out of your home.

For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.

Reproduction

Silverfish undergo love dances prior to mating. Males lay spermatophores, which are taken into the ovipositor of female specimens. Females’ egg numbers and habits vary, depending on species. One species lays a few eggs a day where as another species lays clusters of 2 to 20 eggs. Read more about the life cycle of a silverfish.

Signs of a Silverfish Infestation

silverfish image
Most often, homeowners detect silverfish when they find one on the floor or in a sink or bathtub. Their feeding damage also can indicate their presence, along with their tiny pepperlike feces.

Silverfish Prevention & Control in the Home

Nocturnal & Secretive
Silverfish are nocturnal and move very quickly. They are secretive, and the severity of an infestation may go unnoticed for long periods of time, allowing for exponential growth. Silverfish reproduce quickly.

Prefer Moisture
Silverfish can survive in almost any environment, but they prefer areas with high humidity. Nymphs develop faster in areas that are humid. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent an infestation is to control humidity.

  • Open vents in crawl spaces
  • In basements, use baseboards with caulking
  • Silverfish consume a variety of foods, and stringent housekeeping practices may help prevent an infestation by limiting potential feeding sites

Traps
However, if your home already hosts a silverfish population, hiring a professional who can create a customized approach is recommended. Traps and insecticides sold in stores will only kill individual insects and cannot address an entire infestation. Some people try to use cinnamon to repel silverfish from certain areas, but it does not kill the insects or their eggs.

Addressing a silverfish infestation requires treatment of both adult silverfish and their harborage. Most do-it-yourself remedies prove ineffective over time, with brief periods of relief followed by another infestation. There are a variety of silverfish traps on the market. However, these traps target individual insects and cannot prevent entire silverfish populations.

Professional Pest Control
Silverfish infestations require professional treatment. Your local pest control expert will be able to assess the situation within your home and determine the most effective methods of extermination for your specific problem. At the first sign of a silverfish infestation, contact your local pest control professional. Scheduling a home inspection may help you get rid of silverfish.

More Information