Silverfish Control

Silverfish are wingless insects that are typically smaller than 2 inches long. The insect derives its name from is silver-like color combining both light gray and blue along with its distinct movement pattern that resembles a fish. The abdomen of a silverfish is tapered further giving the insect a fish-like appearance.


Silverfish come in many different varieties yet all share a common appearance. Slight color variations may be present, but all exhibit the same basic features. Two long cerci adorn their head and the abdomen contains one terminal filament that protrudes between the left and right cerci.

The silverfish has two compound eyes that are very small, unlike other members of the same family. In most cases, similar insects will have no eyes. This is a characteristic that is unique to the silverfish insect in comparison to its common relatives.

Silverfish are a wingless insect and use a wiggling motion as means of transportation. This wiggling motion is often reminiscent of a fish. Silverfish are very good runners and use this benefit to escape common predators including spiders and centipedes. However, without appendages, silverfish can’t climb with the same speed and it is limited to horizontal surfaces.

The silverfish is a nocturnal insect and will avoid light and lighted areas whenever possible. For this reason, they can mostly be found under sinks and in basements, where water is readily present. Because these areas are often under-inspected, silverfish populations have a tendency to grow unaccounted for.

Silverfish are partial to food sources that contain polysaccharides, or starches and dextrin laden adhesives. For this reason, silverfish are often responsible for damage to carpets and book bindings. Silverfish will also damage wallpaper in order to get to the adhesive underneath.

Though the silverfish can contaminate food sources, they do not carry any known diseases and therefore cannot transmit them to humans. Their consumption of many household items has made them a common household pest. To avoid silverfish infestations, proper prevention must be exercised.

The silverfish has many known predators. The most common predators of the silverfish are earwigs, centipedes and spiders, namely the brown recluse. This reason alone warrants the removal of the insect from homes to avoid more dangerous insects from arriving.

Life Cycle

Silverfish do not procreate through direct fertilization methods. The mating habits of a silverfish can be broken down into three distinct parts. In the first segment of the silverfish mating ritual, a male and female silverfish will rub their antennae together. During the second stage, the female will flee from the male before returning for the third and final phase. In the final phase, the male will begin vibrating his tail onto a female silverfish to release spermatophores, which the female will receive through ovipositors without direct fertilization.

Depending on the conditions in which the eggs are deposited, hatching may not happen for nearly 60 days. Under optimal conditions, the eggs may hatch within 19 days. Female silverfish have been found to produce up to 3 eggs per day or release clusters between 2 and 20 eggs.

Silverfish can produce eggs year-round, unlike other insects that have specific mating periods. When young silverfish emerge from the eggs, they will resemble a full grown silverfish in a much smaller size and white coloration. After undergoing several molts, silverfish will become full adults.

The life span of a silverfish can range anywhere between two to eight years. This length of time is dependent on environmental factors and the species of silverfish. Humid conditions are favorable for the silverfish, but they have been known to thrive in nearly any environment.


Silverfish are a primarily nocturnal creature. For this reason, you are likely to find them in dark places with an adequate supply of water. Among the most common places to find them are attics, basements, kitchens, bathrooms and anywhere moisture may be retained. Silverfish can also commonly be found outdoors in Oklahoma.

Homes that feature cedar shake roofs are often capable of having more serious silverfish infestations. This is often attributed to the mold types that form within this particular type of roofing. This can also be an attributed to untreated wood, as the wood, when untreated, is more susceptible to holding moisture.

When silverfish have food readily available, they are more prone to flourishing. With that in mind, it is important to make sure food sources are eliminated to alleviate the silverfish population within a home. If silverfish are not present, proper precautions can ensure infestations don’t happen.

Damages Caused by Silverfish

Silverfish leave behind scales when they molt. Finding these scales or droppings within food would be a less than exciting experience. Though this is a scenario that is commonly faced by homeowners plagued with silverfish problems, the damages these insects can cause are much more extensive.

Silverfish secrete a yellow substance that can leave stains on walls, personal items and clothing. This is impossible to avoid in most cases when silverfish are present. This phenomenon can also be seen with other insects and rodents.

Irreplaceable family photos and important documents aren’t immune from the damage a silverfish can cause. Because of the silverfish’s affinity for products containing paper, keeping these documents and pictures in a safe location is essential. This can easily be done with airtight Tupperware or storage containers.

Magazines, newspapers and books are also a target of the silverfish. This can cause many problems for a library that can potentially become infested. In the home, these items should be kept in enclosed cabinets or plastic storage containers.

Signs of Infestation

Homes infested by silverfish are likely to show several signs of the insect’s presence. However, the best indicator that silverfish are present in the home is actually seeing them. The most common place to see a silverfish is within a bathtub. Because the surface is smooth, the silverfish is ineffective at getting an adequate grip to exit the tub and will become trapped.

If a home has wallpaper, random holes may also indicate a silverfish presence. This is due to the silverfish eating through the wallpaper to feast on the glue that adheres it to the wall. Often these holes will be accompanied by yellowed stains.

Holes in clothing may indicate the presence of a silverfish or a common clothes moth. Both can leave yellow stains on the clothing, but the common clothes moth is notoriously difficult to get rid of. In cases of famine, silverfish will sometimes also eat leather products.

In an outdoor setting, silverfish will often be found inside other insect nests scavenging for food. It is not uncommon for silverfish to also be inside of birds’ nests. Perhaps the most common place silverfish are found outdoors is within the siding of a home or beneath fallen tree bark.


Though not harmful to humans, the appearance of a silverfish causes it to be a notoriously feared insect. If a homeowner spots a silverfish within their home or has a full blown infestation, professional help may be needed. To keep silverfish from entering the home, several preventative methods can be put in place.

Lavender and Citrus Sprays

Many reports have shown that silverfish are unlikely to stick around if lavender or citrus is present. By strategically placing lavender around food sources or spraying hiding spots like crevices with citrus oil, silverfish will be more likely to stay away. Not only does this remove the insect, but the room is left with a pleasant smell!

Sticky Traps

Because the silverfish is wingless, it must crawl on its belly in order to get from food source to food source. Sticky traps can be effective in eliminating small amounts of silverfish that may wander into a home. The traps can lure silverfish in due to their starchy glue and paper construction.

Remove Food Sources

Silverfish are more likely to enter a home and flourish if a plethora of food sources are available. Since silverfish are known to eat newspapers and the glue on books, keeping these items off of the floor and out of reach is a necessity. It is also important to remove cardboard boxes from the home that are not being used.

Properly Store Food

Silverfish are also known to eat common pantry foods, such as cereal. If silverfish are present within the home moving these items to airtight plastic containers, instead of the standard cardboard box, can help remove food sources that silverfish can utilize. This is also important to ensure food is not becoming contaminated by the insect.

Remove Moisture Sources

Excess moisture is the biggest reason for silverfish to infest a home. Several steps can be taken to ensure silverfish are less likely to enter your home. Using a dehumidifier can help remove moisture from the air that can cause condensation. Installing a bathroom fan to remove moisture caused when showering will also help deter excess moisture issues.

Fix Leaky Pipes

When pipes within a home leak, excess moisture is readily available for silverfish to thrive. This is common in areas such as basements and under sinks where maintenance is often forgotten. Inspecting pipes and fixing any leaks will help deter silverfish from staying within a home.

Seal Cracks

Silverfish are small insects and can easily penetrate a home through cracks or crevices that may found within the foundation. Using caulk and weatherstripping can ensure these access points are cut off. When silverfish utilize cracks to get into a home, they can lay eggs and further, or begin an infestation problem.

Insecticide Use

Silverfish will die when they come into contact with insecticides such as permethrin and deltamethrin. However, when using insecticides, it is important to trust a pest control specialist. This can ensure the job is done safely and effectively.

Common Associations

Silverfish are sometimes mistaken for a few specific insects that share similar qualities and features. The two that are most likely to misidentified as silverfish are the firebrat and house centipede. Though the insects have some similarities, the species are different.


The firebrat is a bristletail, just like the silverfish, causing them to often be confused. Both have a tendency to find their way into homes as a nuisance pest. The firebrat is shaped like the silverfish but exhibits a mottled, patchy color of black and white. Firebrats tend to prefer eating rayon, while silverfish will only slightly damage it.

House Centipede

The house centipede exhibits a similar shape to the silverfish but has many more legs as traditionally seen with the centipede. The house centipede has 15 slender legs that are encircled by dark and white bands. House centipedes are rarely seen within a home because they prefer dark, undisturbed areas, but occasionally they will be found trapped within a bathtub or sink.

Ask the Entomologist

Along with jumping bristletails, silverfish predecessors are often considered the earliest insects. These primitive ancestors evolved, at the latest, during the mid-Devonian period. However, some estimate they may have been around during the Silurian era, making them over 400 million years old!

Why Arrow Exterminators?

We hope this information helps you prevent silverfish infestations and keeps your home free from infestations all year long. If you are struggling with a silverfish problem in your home or business, give us a call or visit our website to start a no obligation silverfish evaluation. The talented technicians at Arrow Exterminators can identify any type of pest and identify the best course of treatment to get rid of it. We’ll create a custom pest control plan to make sure we eliminate every last one from your home and keep them away for good! You can call our trained pest control experts at any time with questions about pest control methods or pest prevention techniques. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more pest prevention tips and tricks. Contact Arrow Exterminators and our silverfish control experts will get you the help you need right away. Whether it’s a private residence, dormitory, hotel or any other type of property. Arrow Exterminators has been eliminating silverfish all over Oklahoma since 1952. We know silverfish control.

If you’re experiencing a problem with silverfish, contact us to schedule your free no obligation evaluation.

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