Silverfish are odd insects. Their bodies look like a cross between a shrimp and some bacteria you’d observe under a microscope. Silverfish are lumped in with other wood-destroying insects because they can ruin the cosmetic appearance of your wood, but they are less of a threat to the structural integrity of your home than termites or carpenter ants.
Silverfish might make a home out of wood furniture or beams in your house, but they’re more likely to target your clothing, books, wallpaper, and curtains for a snack. And since they gobble up paper, they’re good candidates for contaminating food like cereal as well.
Basically, even though they won’t bring down your house, Silverfish are a pest you don’t want around. They live long lives and breed rapidly, so if you spot one in your home, your walls are likely crawling with the things.
What do silverfish look like?
Silverfish are .5 to 1 inch long, nocturnal, and like 75 – 90 percent relative humidity. Silverfish have tear-shaped bodies, six legs, three-pronged appendages on their backside, and two long antennae on the front. You usually will not see them unless there’s a large population of them around.
Where they live
Silverfish hang out wherever the humidity and food sources are. Most often, you’ll find them lurking in your bathroom or basement. They’re content to lay around in their shelter whenever they’re not eating, so if you catch one running around, it’s likely on its way to or from grabbing dinner.
What they eat
These insects can eat almost anything with starch or sugar, including non-food items like paper, glue, carpeting, drapes, cotton products, dead bugs, and more. Because they’re small and chew through cardboard and paper, they occasionally contaminate food.
How they get in your home
Silverfish are tiny, so they can slip through cracks in the wall or follow plumbing lines to break into your house. However, the most common way they get in is by hitching a ride with the homeowners. Silverfish are known to hide out in books, art, packing peanuts, and other packaged items, so it’s not uncommon for them to move into your home at the same time you do.
Signs of a silverfish infestation include:
- Spotting holes on clothing, curtains, books, etc.
- Yellow stain marks on clothing, walls, books, etc.
- Cosmetic damage to wood items or furniture.
- All these signs are even more likely to be silverfish if discovered in or near a humid area like a basement or bathroom.
Prevention and removal
The best DIY step you can take toward preventing and getting rid of silverfish is placing a dehumidifier in silverfish hot spots like the basement. This is best as a preventative measure. If you’ve seen silverfish in your home, they’re likely living in your walls, which will require professional pest control removal.