Silverfish, also called “bristletails,” are shaped like a flattened carrot and are silver or gray in color. They grow to be between ½-¾ of an inch long and have three tail-like appendages at the tip of the abdomen. Silverfish are very active at night and can run very quickly. They are usually found in areas with relatively high levels of humidity and moisture, and their flat bodies allow them to live in very tight spaces such as bathrooms, attics, garages, crawl spaces, and basements. These are especially vulnerable to silverfish activity. Silverfish feed on foods with carbohydrates and proteins including paper, small insects, and paste in addition to other things commonly found around homes such as cereal, clothing, and insulation.

Not sure if you have silverfish at home? Or maybe you want to learn more about how silverfish control works. Check out the following information to clarify some questions you may have.

Library Shortcuts

Where do silverfish 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 silverfish 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.

Why do I have silverfish in my house?

Silverfish find their way indoors while searching for warmth, moisture, and food. Easy entry points exist around your home such as windows, door frames, utility pipes, and shake roofs. They can also be brought in as stowaways in boxes or packages. Although silverfish don’t cause structural damage or pass on diseases to humans, they do cause damage to books, wallpaper, paper goods, and sometimes clothing.

Once the silverfish have established themselves inside, they can live for several weeks without any food source or water and have an average lifespan of 3 years. However, if they find an abundant food source, they’ll stay close by. Silverfish breed indoors, laying eggs every day, placing them in cracks behind electrical sockets, tiny cracks and crevices around your home, and even behind wallpaper.

Should I be concerned about silverfish?

Silverfish aren’t known to bite or attack humans and pets or spread diseases. Because they eat mold, persistent silverfish activity can be indicative of mold problems, water damage, or broken/leaking utility pipes. Although they are not a threat to humans or pets, they may cause the following:

  • Silverfish often present a mild risk to people and property. They do not transmit disease, but this pest may trigger allergies in some people.
  • Their presence sometimes attracts carpet beetles and causes unease due to their strange appearance.
  • 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.

How to identify a silverfish infestation?

Silverfish can be found almost anywhere, but they prefer damp environments with moderate temperatures such as basements, laundry rooms, and under sinks.

Since Silverfish travel long distances looking for food, it may be challenging to know the exact source of silverfish infestations.

Silverfish prefer dark and moist environments (75 – 97% humidity). Some of their preferred habitats are basements, kitchens, sinks, bathtubs, bookcases, closet shelves, behind baseboards, wall voids, and sub-floors. The following are some signs that could help you identify a silverfish infestation:

  • Silverfish molt throughout their lives. Finding their cast skin is a good indicator that Silverfish are present.
  • Finding small irregular-shaped holes in fabrics is a common sign of Silverfish. Irregularly shaped holes in wallpaper is another indicator because they like to eat the glue.
  • Silverfish may leave a yellowish stain on the fabric. Firebrats will feed extensively on rayon, whereas Silverfish usually damage it only slightly.
  • Outside, Silverfish may be found in nests. These nests can belong to other insects, birds, and mammals. They also live under tree bark and mulch. They are sometimes found in wood shingles or sidings on houses.

Can I get rid of silverfish myself?

Since silverfish are nocturnal, spending their days hiding in small spaces, it is hard to get rid of an existing population without professional pest control. The best way to reduce the silverfish populations in your home is to create an environment that is not desirable for breeding.

Tips to prevent silverfish

To prevent silverfish you should make sure that you do all that you can to prevent the buildup of moisture, humidity, and mold in your home. This can be achieved by keeping up with regular maintenance and sanitation. Reducing the storage of clutter and cardboard boxes (which can lead to mold problems) is also helpful. However, it is difficult to eliminate their food sources because they are so disposed to eat paper and glue that holds wallpaper together.

Want a Free Estimate?
Need to Schedule Service?
Have a Questions?

    Preferred Contact:


    Our silverfish control process typically consists of the following stages:

    • Confirm or discard the existence of silverfish on the premises through an inspection
    • Identify the factors that may be causing and contributing to the infestation
    • Offer pest control programs to get the problem under control
    • Treat the existing population and prevent future infestations

    What our clients are saying

    Our Partners and Awards

    Service area

    New Jersey:

    Ocean County

    Essex County

    Passaic County

    Morris County

    Hudson County

    Bergen County