Actual Size: ½ to ¾”

Characteristics:  Flattened body, metallic steel gray; covered with dull gray-silver scales

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Tails: 3

Habitat: Usually in moist or humid areas in properties, including basements, bathrooms, etc.


  • Also known as firebrats.
  • Do not have wings and move in a quick fish-like manner.
  • Known for destructive feeding habits, damaging clothing, paper, and wallpaper.

Silverfish in North Carolina

Silverfish and firebrats have enzymes in their gut that digest cellulose, and will inhabit bookcases, closets, and places where books, clothing, starch, or dry foods are available. Both silverfish and firebrats are capable of swift movement and their ability to move sideways or even jump when disturbed. Since the bodies of these insects are flattened, they can find harborage in very small cracks and crevices, even within narrow book bindings, the loose pages of books, and corrugated cardboard.

Because there are many different types of beetles in North Carolina, they can be difficult to distinguish, however our common beetle species can help with this.

Silverfish Habitat

Silverfish consume both carbohydrates and proteins, and can also be cannibalistic, eating cast skins of dead and injured individuals. These nocturnal insects cannot survive without humidity and will hide during the day in high moisture areas like laundry rooms, under kitchen and bathroom sinks, and in crawl spaces. Silverfish are pests of paper, particularly paper with a glazed finish. They are especially fond of the sizing in paper products, which may consist of starch, dextrin, casein, gum, and glue.

Silverfish Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Silverfish do not have wings and instead of moving from place to place by flying, they move in a very quick fish-like manner. If the object they are hiding beneath is moved, they will dart toward another secluded place.  Silverfish do not bite or sting, but they can cause significant damage to personal items and food sources. Silverfish have weak jaws, causing them to scrape instead of bite. Their scraping activity results in holes in fabric and clothing, and discoloration of books, paper products, and wallpaper. Silverfish can contaminate dry foods such as cereals, flour, pasta, and pet food. If you have excess silverfish in your North Carolina property, contact your local exterminators for help.

Silverfish Bites

Silverfish are not known for biting humans or animals. When confronted or disturbed, their primary defense mechanism is to quickly flee from the source of disturbance.

Are Silverfish Dangerous?

In general, silverfish are not considered dangerous to humans or pets in terms of transmitting diseases or inflicting harm but they can cause significant damage to personal items, food sources and structures due to their feeding habits.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish?

If you discover a Silverfish infestation in your home, there are several methods you can employ to manage and control their population:

  • Reduce Humidity: Silverfish thrive in humid environments, so reducing indoor humidity levels can discourage their presence. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas and ensure proper ventilation to decrease moisture buildup.
  • Seal Entry Points: Prevent Silverfish from entering your home by sealing cracks, gaps, and openings in your home’s foundation, walls, and doors. This helps create a barrier that prevents their access.
  • Remove Food Sources: Store food items in airtight containers and remove or secure items rich in carbohydrates, such as paper, glue, and cardboard boxes. Reducing their access to potential food sources can discourage their presence.
  • Professional Pest Control: In severe infestations, you may consider contacting your local Bug Out pest control experts to get rid of silverfish

Silverfish Prevention Tips

Preventing silverfish infestations is key to protecting your property:

  • Keep Areas Dry: Inspect and maintain areas prone to moisture, such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Fix any leaks, improve ventilation, and ensure proper drainage to reduce humidity levels.
  • Declutter and Clean: Reduce clutter in storage areas, as clutter provides hiding places for silverfish. Regularly clean and vacuum your home to eliminate potential hiding spots.
  • Store Items Properly: Store books, documents, clothing, and other susceptible items in plastic containers or sealable bags to protect them from silverfish damage.

Frequently Asked Questions


Should I be Worried if I Have Silverfish?

While Silverfish are not harmful to your health, their presence can be concerning due to the potential damage they can cause to personal belongings and structures. If left unchecked, they can multiply and become a larger problem.

Why Should You Kill Silverfish?

Killing Silverfish may be necessary if their presence becomes a significant problem, leading to damage or infestations of personal items and structures. Control measures are often taken to protect your property long term.

How Harmful are Silverfish?

Silverfish are not physically harmful to humans or pets, but they can be harmful to books, paper products, fabrics, and other items they feed on. Their feeding habits can lead to material damage over time if not addressed.