Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

What Are Silverfish and Are They Harmful

Despite their lustrous name, few bugs can create as visceral a reaction as silverfish. Although the critters are only 3/4 of an inch long, they have extended curved antennae, six long legs, and three lengthy bristles on the rear. The silvery-grey-to-blue insects wriggle like fish across the floor and definitely carry a large “ick” factor.

The fact that silverfish haunt the same environments as cockroaches doesn’t help their image. You can find silverfish in the dark damp corners of basements, laundry rooms, kitchens, attics, and bathrooms. They’re not as fast as cockroaches, but they’re pretty quick and usually get out of a room before you ever see them.

The scientific name for silverfish, L. saccharina, indicates that they dine on sugar and starches, which they readily find in an average home. Silverfish are attracted to the glue used in book bindings and on wallpaper. They also find sustenance in paint, paper, photographs, plaster, sugar, coffee, carpeting, and clothing. And here comes the ick factor; silverfish will dine on the dandruff and hair they find on the floor.

Silverfish have been around for millions of years and are some of the oldest creatures to ever colonize dry land. While spotting one might cause you to run from the room, silverfish are not harmful to humans. They don’t bite and they are not disease vectors like cockroaches. They can cause property damage, nibbling away on walls and household items. But unless you have a rare, major infestation, silverfish are mainly nuisance insects. If you’re troubled by silverfish dry out moist areas with fans or dehumidifiers. Repair leaky pipes, throw away boxes filled with damp clothes, old papers, and books, and make sure you have proper ventilation in the bathrooms. These remedies will not only prevent silverfish infestations, they will prevent long-term damage to your home.