Are Silverfish Harmful to People?

January 2019

Silverfish, one of the oldest insects on the planet, look scary but aren't harmful to humans. They're neither poisonous nor prone to biting. However, they can be damaging to important items that you've stored in your home. Learn more about these prehistoric pests and what to do if you find them.

What Are Silverfish?

Silverfish are your least favorite surprise when you pull a box snacks out of the pantry in the middle of the night. They’re the frightening little bugs that you might find in a box of old books in the attic.

Silverfish are nocturnal insects that have existed on earth since before the dinosaurs. They appear silvery or grayish-blue, giving them their name. A silverfish will have a long, flat body, large antennae and similarly-long rear appendages. These bugs thrive in areas with moisture and warmth, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, attics and basements.

Are Silverfish Harmful?

Silverfish are not a risk to humans or pets. Despite their threatening appearance and startling speed, these insects don’t bite and are not dangerous.

Silverfish are not poisonous and they don’t carry diseases. They’ll most likely flee if you find them in a kitchen cabinet or a shelf in the garage.

However, silverfish molt frequently as they grow and continue to molt as adults. The exoskeletons that they leave behind after molting can collect if unnoticed and cause irritation in people with allergies. Pet owners should prevent their pets from eating these bugs, though they aren’t disease carriers.

Items At Risk of Silverfish Damage

Silverfish aren’t harmful to people but they can damage things you cherish. You might see these bugs near their preferred food sources while they're active at night. Silverfish consume mainly carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches. They have diverse diets that go beyond the food in your pantry to include common and potentially important household items.

Silverfish will eat many things, from pantry items and uncovered leftovers to magazines and clothes. Especially at risk are boxes of these materials in storage areas—attics and basements—that are typically humid and poorly ventilated. Damp clothes and clothes with stains are also more attractive to silverfish.

Silverfish can be damaging to some of the most important and sensitive things you've stored. Boxes of essential documents, precious collections of photos and closets full of stored clothes are all at risk of being damaged by silverfish.

Because silverfish eat starch and cellulose, they will damage books and newspapers, eating the glue in the covers and bindings of your favorite novels.

These pests can also eat through cardboard to get to pantry items such as sugar, cereal, rice and more. For this reason, it's important to seal foods in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids.

In addition to stored clothes, other items of various fabrics are at risk of silverfish damage. You might find holes in bedding, tablecloths and curtains with starch or adhesives in them if silverfish are present in your home.

Silverfish won't cause structural damage to your home but they are drawn to newly built homes and recent renovations. The fresh adhesives used in construction are very attractive to these pests.

Call Aptive Environmental for Effective Silverfish Control

Preventing silverfish means eliminating their sources of food, moisture and warmth. Make sure your storage rooms (basement, crawl space, attic, garage) are well ventilated to avoid humid environments. Store food and other important items (photos, documents, etc.) in sealed containers. Silverfish are fast, adaptive pests—controlling an infestation might require help from the professionals.

If you've found silverfish or signs of silverfish damage in your home, call Aptive. Our team has the tools and expertise to solve your pest problems with professional, effective methods. We provide convenient, professional pest control that’s customized to the size and shape of your home.

Protect your home by calling your local Aptive Environmental branch today.

Recommended Reading

Pest Control: The Lifecycle of Pests

Pests are a nuisance to homeowners, and can cause a lot of damage to property, as well as health risks to humans and pets. To effectively control pests, it is important to understand their lifecycle and behavior. In this article, we will explore the lifecycle of...

Feb 17, 2023

Data, Patterns, and Pest Control

As a leading pest control provider, Aptive service professionals encounter all kinds of pest activity across the country. Our ability to monitor this pest activity has provided valuable insights into understanding the prevalence of specific pest types at different...

Aug 1, 2023

Jumping Spider Control: Effective Methods to Eliminate and Prevent

Jumping spiders may seem harmless, but they can quickly get out of hand. With their swift movements and sharp vision, jumping spiders can be a nuisance and even pose risks to you and your surroundings. That's where effective jumping spider control methods come into...

Jul 26, 2023

Brown Recluse Spider: Facts, Bites & Control

Did you know that brown recluse spiders, also known as violin spiders, are among the most common venomous arachnids found in the United States? These elusive creatures are famous for their distinctive violin-shaped markings on their bodies. Brown recluse spiders...

Jul 14, 2023

Ultimate guide to identifying, preventing, and treating earwigs

Did you know that there is an insect with a rather peculiar name that often sparks curiosity and even fear? Meet the earwig, a nocturnal creature belonging to the order Dermaptera. With elongated bodies and distinctive pincers called cerci at their rear end, these...

Jun 19, 2023

Carpet Beetles: Identification, Prevention & Control Tips

Did you know that there are tiny creatures lurking in your home that can cause significant damage to fabrics and other materials? These are carpet beetles, small oval-shaped insects with a varied color pattern. There are several species of carpet beetles, but the...

Jun 12, 2023

Flea Bites: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Have you ever noticed a red bump on your skin that is itchy and painful? If so, you might have been bitten by a flea. Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals, and their bites can cause discomfort and irritation. In this article, we will...

May 31, 2023

Get Rid of Silverfish: Your Ultimate Guide!

Silverfish are common household pests that can be found in dark and damp areas of your home, such as basements, attics, and bathrooms. They are named after their silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like movements. These insects have a three-stage life cycle: egg,...

May 25, 2023

The Short Lifespan of Flies

Flies have a relatively short lifespan, typically living for only a few weeks to a few months, depending on the species. Their lifespan is influenced by various factors, including temperature, humidity, and availability of food and water. Flies lay their eggs in...

Feb 15, 2023

What Attracts Ants to Your Home?

Ants are small, seemingly harmless pests, but without proper treatment they can quickly become a massive nuisance. Oftentimes, homeowners don’t know where to start with ants and typically try solutions that only temporarily fix the problem. It can be difficult to...

Nov 22, 2022

How to Pest-Proof Your Garbage Cans

Depending on where you live, you may be familiar with managing pest-ridden garbage cans. What many city-dwellers and suburbians don’t realize though, is how easy it is for their own trash cans to become home to opportunistic pests. Allowing bugs to live in your...

Oct 20, 2022

Take back your home with pest control today.

Pin It on Pinterest