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Silverfish are gray to brown and all have the same characteristic shape. Their bodies are flattened, long and slender, broad at the front and tapering gradually toward the rear. The antennae are long and slender. Three long, slender appendages are found at the rear of the body. These give rise to the common name, “bristle tails.” All silverfish and firebrats are wingless. The young look like small adults, and their development takes place without metamorphosis.


Silverfish are scavengers and will feed on crumbs, dead insects, starch, glue, wallpaper paste, and paper products. They can also stain fabric, paper, books, or wallpaper. There can be a lot of damage to these items if very large infestations have been present over a long period of time.

Populations are slow to grow, and a large house infestation usually means they have been there for a long time.

Silverfish are night insects that are often found in attics, basements, bathrooms, wall voids, subfloor areas, and cracks or crevices. They normally hitchhike into the home on food, furniture, old books, papers, and old starched clothing.

Silverfish may be found almost anywhere in the house, but are most commonly found in damp, cool locations (preferring 75 to 95% relative humidity). For example, you may find them around sinks, bathtubs, and other plumbing fixtures where they go for moisture, fall in, and can’t climb out. Sometimes they are attracted to new buildings where the walls are still damp from plaster and green lumber. Silverfish are most active at night and move very quickly, with a wiggling motion that looks like the swimming action of a fish.



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