Do Silverfish Bite?

Do Silverfish Bite People or Pets?

Silverfish possess mouthparts that enable consumption of various household items the primitive insects use as food sources. The weak mandibles of silverfish, however, only allow the small insects to bite off tiny particles, scrape the surfaces of food sources, and chew. Thus, despite having mouthparts with chewing capabilities, silverfish seldom pose a biting threat to other animals. In fact, silverfish rarely if ever bite humans or household pets and instead prefer to chew on starchy items. Unlike other common pest insects, silverfish neither bite to feed nor in self-defense. When startled or disturbed, the nocturnal insects simply flee quickly and find another dark hiding place.

The mouthparts of silverfish, while not a threat to humans, are nonetheless capable of damaging a range of common household items. Silverfish eat materials containing protein, sugar, and starch. Pantry staples like cereal and flour regularly make up a significant part of the insect’s diet. Silverfish also often use their mouthparts to chew holes into book bindings or wallpaper and scrape the glue or paste off the other side. The potentially destructive insects feed on starched linens and other fabrics such as cotton and silk, as well. Damage caused by silverfish generally takes the form of small holes and yellowish stains created as the mouthparts of the insect scrape across the material.