Silverfish Control: Protect Your Home


As the name implies, silverfish are silver or gray insects that move from side to side in a manner that resembles the motions of a swimming fish. These cosmopolitan pests are found throughout the United States. They prefer habitats around room temperature with high humidity and are known to feed on a variety of foodstuffs. A nuisance pest, silverfish can be quite annoying in libraries, museums, and homes, as they feed on paper and the glue in book bindings.


What Do They Look Like?

Size: The common silverfish is about 1/2 an inch in length, but may grow as long as 3/4 of an inch.

Color: Deriving its name from the color of its body, the silverfish typically appears shiny silver or pearl gray.

Characteristics: Slender, flat and “carrot shaped,” the silverfish body gradually tapers from the front to the rear where a trio of long, thin, tail-like appendages extend. The insect also has two long antennae which, when combined with the tail appendages, nearly equal the length of the body. Nocturnal by nature, silverfish are fast-moving but do not possess wings for flight.

Geographic Range

With a worldwide range, silverfish can be found throughout our primary service area in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, as well as the rest of the country.


What Do They Eat?

Silverfish can go for long periods of time without nourishment. When the pests eat, they tend to prefer foods high in carbohydrates and protein, such as cereal grains, dried meat, dead insects and, at times be cannibalistic on their own. In the home, silverfish may attack and eat synthetic fabrics, silk, the glue contained in book bindings or wallpaper, and paper products.


Silverfish lay their eggs in cool, moist, and dark places, such as cracks, crevices, and other narrow spaces near sources of food. Each female lays between 1 to 3 eggs per day which hatch into nymphs that look similar to adults.

The specific length of time between birth and adulthood depends on various environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and food availability. Silverfish nymphs molt up to many times a year, and maturation may take anywhere from three months to three years. Silverfish are long-lived insects, with adults enjoying a lifespan of up to three years.


  • Look for silverfish in basements, storage areas, closets, and crawl spaces.
  • May notice holes at irregular intervals in books or wallpaper, sometimes accompanied by yellow staining.
  • Remain alert for tiny fecal matter that looks like specks of pepper.
  • Silverfish are often found in areas of high moisture, including bathtubs and sinks.

Problems Caused by Silverfish

Primarily just a nuisance, silverfish are not known to transmit any diseases or cause structural damage to homes. For the most part, homeowners, museum workers, and librarians detest the creature because of its appetite for books, paper, and similar artifacts. In these situations, damages can be costly, especially if rare or antique pieces are fed on. Though rare, the accumulation of dead silverfish and their scales may lead to allergic reactions, as well as provide a food source for the damaging carpet beetle.

Signs of Infestation

Outside of seeing the insects scurrying from place to place indoors, the most common sign of a silverfish infestation is the damage they inflict upon book bindings, wallpaper, and certain fabrics found around the home. The emergence of small, unconnected, and irregular-shaped holes and staining may hint at the presence of the silverfish.

Prevention Tips

As silverfish prefer dark and moist hiding places, eliminating their favorite environmental conditions can help prevent the insects from infesting. Reroute drainage away from the home to reduce damp conditions in basements or crawl spaces, keep interior floors clear of debris and use a dehumidifier to lower the relative humidity within the structure. Keep all dry goods in properly sealed containers, and store books in a moisture-free environment.

Tips for Removal from Home

Silverfish can be difficult to eliminate with sticky traps and other store-bought baits. While infestations may not reach large enough numbers to draw notice, the insects are resilient and sometimes return even after they are believed to be eliminated. To ensure complete eradication from the home, call Western and we’ll come out for a free inspection.