Will Silverfish Eat Clothes in My Closet?
As generalist feeders, silverfish are attracted to a wide range of food sources. The primitive insects show particular fondness for items containing high levels of starch, protein, or sugar. Silverfish eat everything from cereal and flour to the glue or paste affixed to the undersides of book bindings and wallpaper. Unfortunately, clothing also regularly forms part of the silverfish diet. Silverfish eat clothes not for the actual material, but for the nourishing substances often found in or on the fabric. The nocturnal insects feed on starched clothing to extract the starchy carbohydrates contained within. To fulfill their need for sugars, silverfish also eat clothes that are stained with spills of sugary foods or beverages.
When silverfish eat clothes, the insects tend to demonstrate a preference for garments made of cotton, linen, and silk. Silverfish are also known to feed on leather and cause slight to moderate damage to rayon. Because the mouthparts of silverfish are only capable of taking small bites and scraping edible material from various surfaces, tiny holes and yellowish stains typically make up the majority of the damage left behind on clothes. Articles of clothing stored in closets or other dark storage areas with moderately warm temperatures and high humidity are most susceptible to silverfish damage.