Silverfish are one of the primitive insects on the planet. While they are a nuisance, they’re not generally considered harmful. Still, these insects are unwelcome guests in your home, and if you’re going to try preventing or controlling an infestation, you need to know what to look out for.

active silverfish

Silverfish are nocturnal, preferring to remain hidden in dark places during the day and emerging at night to search for food. This, combined with the fact that they move so quickly, explains why their presence can startle homeowners.

These insects are hardy pests, and as long as the conditions within your home are cozy and ideal, they can remain active throughout the year. Under the right conditions, silverfish can survive for up to three years, a long lifespan in the insect world.

What Attracts Silverfish?

There are a number of things that can attract silverfish to your home. Although, these aren’t technically things that attract silverfish, but are rather conducive conditions that can allow them to live and reproduce.

These insects thrive in humid conditions, so they’re often found in areas where water and moist air can be easily found, such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages and cabinets. They will generally seek out environments with temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees, although they can survive and develop in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food sources can help sustain silverfish that find their way into your home. These insects have a varied diet, feeding on everything from fungal molds and organic matter to carbohydrates and protein. Book bindings, paper, cardboard boxes, glue, rolled oats, dried beef and pet food are all potential food sources for silverfish.

Silverfish may wander inside your home through cracks and openings, and they can also be accidentally transported inside through boxes and packaging. Once a silverfish enters your home, an infestation can be difficult to detect because populations grow slowly. They’re also difficult to detect because silverfish are nocturnal.

Homes with cedar shake roofs are at particular risk for infestation because wooden shingles can often retain moisture, which can result in mold.

How to Identify Silverfish

Silverfish range from one-half to one inch in length and have triangular-shaped bodies. They get their name from their silvery-gray color and their habit of scurrying quickly while their tail ends wiggle behind them, almost resembling fish swimming in water. They also do not fly or jump.

They are often confused with firebrats, which are similar-looking, brownish-colored insects that thrive at higher temperatures.

How to Help Prevent a Silverfish Infestation

Getting rid of silverfish can be extremely difficult, and prevention is often the best line of defense. Keep these tips in mind to help stave off these unwanted invaders:

  • Keep food items like coffee and sugar stored in airtight containers
  • Vacuum carpets and flooring regularly to remove crumbs that may have been laid in crevices
  • Reduce moisture by repairing leaks, using dehumidifiers when necessary, turning on ventilation fans when showering or cooking and ensuring that water drains away from your house
  • Seal cracks and crevices around doors, windows and baseboards to help eliminate points of entry

Silverfish are tricky to control, so it can be helpful to contact a professional if you have them. If you think you have a silverfish problem in your home, or you want to help avoid one from happening in the first place, contact the pest control professionals at Terminix® today. The Terminix pest control plan covers much more than just silverfish as well.


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