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Silverfish – What They Are, Where They Come From, Do They Bite?

Silverfish are animals that you will not find outdoors in a natural setting. They prefer the darkness and moisture they can find in your attic, for example. Their prefered food is starchy or contains cellulose, such as paper, and would rarely go looking for it outdoors.

What are Silverfish and Where Do They Come From?

Being such picky about their food, they will not do much harm or damage to your home but they are still a nuisance. Silverfish are quite fast and move around the house a lot, but generally, they will not be in your way. But this makes them hard to exterminate. Because applying insecticides to an area where you’ve noticed silverfish does not guarantee you that they will go there again.

Silverfish are shaped like teardrops, with three bristles on its rear, and can reach up to 19mm in length. The most common colours they can be is either blue and silver, or brown with some grey.

Silverfish can thrive in a variety of climates but where they thrive are dark and damp areas. As already mentioned, they live indoors, which means that the places they are most likely to infest are your attic, basement, bathroom, garage. They seek boxes, paper, damp clothing.

Some of the things they can feed on in your house are: wallpaper, papers, cardboard boxes, the glue in books, linen, other small dead insects, foods rich in carbohydrates.

Sings of silverfish infestation

As soon as you spot one silverfish, that means there are more. But of course, they may be an infestation without you seeing an individual. Sings that can tell you have a silverfish infestation are the following:

  • Cracks and crevices – you may notice an increase in gaps and holes in skirting boards, window sills.
  • Shed skin – as the silverfish life cycle progresses, they shed their skin. At the nymph stage, they are more likely to shed skin and the places where you can easily see it is the bathroom or the kitchen. But since it doesn’t happen in big quantities, the shed skin often gets mixed with general dust and dirt on in the house and goes unnoticed.
  • Yellow stains – this can be seen in places the silverfish have been passing through. Yellow stains can be found on books or near them, on papers, wallpapers, even your clothing, if you see such mysterious yellow stains appearing, be sure that there are silverfish involved.
  • Damages – since this type of pest feeds on adhesives and glue, you will see holes in places such as storage boxes and papers, wallpapers, books, linen, also they may attack your food- cereal, oats, flour.
  • Droppings – this is the sign of most pest infestations. With silverfish, their droppings are rather characteristic and can help determine if it is silverfish. Their faecal matter is black and spherical, looks like pellets, or pepper. You can find droppings near boxes or food or even books.

What Are Silverfish Attracted To?

What Do Silverfish Bugs Eat?

  • Cereals
  • Fabrics – cotton, silk, linen
  • Paper materials
  • Books
  • Glue or book bindings
  • Carpets
  • Other dead insects

The feeding habits of silverfish are distrustful of the things they feed on, and this makes them a very annoying pest. They will not cause serious damages to your home but will be enough to ruin a lot of your belongings.

Silverfish can infest places like your laundry room, bathroom, attic or basement, or the kitchen. They prefer humid and damp areas to live in but they would survive in other environments as well.

Do Silverfish Bite?

Do Silverfish Bite People?

Silverfish, even though considered by some to be poisonous centipedes, are not dangerous at all. They are neither poisonous nor do they carry diseases. And they do not seek people to bite them. They are more scared of people than people are of them, and will hide if they are disturbed.

Silverfish can move fast and hide in the smallest crevice where a person will not reach it. Usually, they are active at night and they come out in the search for food and they stay away from people.

Even if it happens that a silverfish bites you, they are harmless.

What Does a Silverfish Bite Look Like?

How to identify Silverfish Bites?

Even though it is very unlikely that a silverfish will touch you or bite you at all, it can happen. And when it happens you might not even feel it. But don’t worry. They are not poisonous.

There are, however, some problems a silverfish bite can cause to people with allergies. The easiest sign to spot is red dots on around the bite.

Other and more serious silverfish bite symptoms:

  • bronchial asthma
  • nose inflammation
  • sharp pain around the bite
  • itchiness

An allergic reaction can also occur if you ingest a silverfish or its faeces.

Are Silverfish Harmful to Cats?

Silverfish are not harmful to cats or dogs. They are neither poisonous nor do they carry diseases.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish?

Boric acid is poisonous to insects and it causes them to starve and dehydrate. Sprinkle some powder around their hiding places or feeding places and you can be sure that some of them will ingest it and die. It is an excellent way to get your home rid of silverfish without using harsh pesticides. Keep it away from pets though!

Cinnamon is a natural and very safe way to get control the silverfish population in your home. It is a home remedy with a pleasant scent that is not dangerous to humans nor pets. How it works is just by putting cinnamon sticks in the drawers, cabinets, the bathroom, or near cracks and crevices where you have spotted silverfish.

Citrus scents and fruits also serve the same purpose. They are a great natural remedy to eliminate this pest. Essential oils can be used as well, or the peels of the fruit. Place them or spray with the scent in places where you suspect silverfish are hiding or go to eat.

Note- Do not use it on the fabric as it can cause damage to the cloth.

Lavender essential oil can also be used to repel silverfish, but it is not recommended to be used on linen. And there are other smells that repel this pest.

Also, naphthalene balls placed strategically around the house, the attic, the cupboards, and the basement can also prevent silverfish from settling inside of your home.

Do’s and Don’ts when you have silverfish infestation


  • Buy a dehumidifier and place it in the bathroom, the basement or any room with high humidity.
  • Keep your house clean and do not hoard unnecessary old newspapers, letters, books and magazines.
  • Keep basements, storage spaces, attics dry and clean.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices on walls, window sills, and around pipes.
  • Use moth repellent tablets in cupboards and wardrobes to keep not only months but silverfish away as well.


  • Don’t leave your bathroom wet, mop it to prevent humidity.
  • Do not leave rubbish or food around the house.

What Keeps Silverfish Away?

Best Silverfish Prevention & Control Methods

Lower humidity levels

Silverfish can survive up to a year without food as long as they have water. Water is essential for their survival and cutting them off will decrease their population a lot. So, remove water sources by fixing leaky faucets or pipes, and closing drains. Keep bathroom well ventilated so it doesn’t stay wet and moist for a long time.

Keep the house clean. Do not store a lot of papers, letters, books in a place where no one touches them or cleans them. Vacuum and sweep your home regularly.
Remove wallpapers if you have any. The silverfish are attracted to the wallpaper glue and will destroy your wallpaper to eat it.

Fix small cracks and crevices in walls or floor, or near doors because they make for perfect hiding places and for perfect nests to lay eggs.

But, if you are already struggling with a silverfish problem, hiring a pest control expert will be the most effective way to get rid of them.

Some home remedies can help kill a few specimen but they will not be as efficient for a big infestation.

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