If you enjoy reading books, or live in a home with wallpaper, you have likely encountered silverfish. These pests, which are sometimes confused with firebrats and booklice, often eat the edges of book pages, bookbindings and wallpaper glue. They can enter a home through purchased items and construction materials, and may be there for a while before you notice signs of their presence. But do silverfish bugs bite?


A: Silverfish bugs bite the surface of their food sources, but they do not bite people. In fact, these pests have weak jaws, so their bite is better likened to a long scraping motion, rather than an actual bite.


A: While they are not known to bite people, silverfish do leave traces of their scrapings on wallpapers, fabrics, paper items and bookbindings. Often these present as small, irregular holes in and along the edges of the material, and they tend to be discolored. The discoloration associated with silverfish infestations is a result of the fungi that spread as they gnaw their way across the page of a book or other similar surfaces. Slight discoloration can also be blamed on fecal matter left behind by the feeding silverfish. One of the most common signs of a silverfish infestation is seeing damage on paper or fabrics.


A: Silverfish seek out cellulose as a food source. This means they are likely to eat their way into or across paper, wallpaper and some fabrics. Silverfish are often found in cardboard boxes in attics. If these boxes are sealed with tape, they will eat the glue off of the tape. Other common storage items, such as magazines, books and newspapers, create both harborages and food sources. Silverfish also eat dead insects, dead skin cells, dust and some types of fungi.


A: Silverfish are nocturnal, so you likely won’t see them during the day, unless you have disturbed their hiding place. When exposed, a silverfish will dart toward the nearest cover, as they are not aggressive insects. Silverfish are going to run away from you, and will flatten their bodies into any nearby dark crevices or crannies.

Even though silverfish do not bite people, they can cause significant amounts of damage if an infestation grows large enough. There are multiple ways to control a silverfish problem, including the use of some insecticides. However, an insecticide should only be used as a last resort, and should be applied by a licensed professional. Call Terminix® today for your free pest estimate, and keep silverfish from biting your belongings.