What is a Silverfish?

Updated: Apr. 26, 2023

Despite their creepy appearance, silverfish aren't known to bite or carry any pathogens that cause disease.

So you go to pour a late-night bowl of cereal, when a bizarre insect comes flying out of the box. The scenario is enough to make you scream and run from the kitchen — surely you’ve lost your appetite. The pest is likely a silverfish.

The fact is, silverfish and these other pests could be be hiding in your attic or under your sink right now.

What is a Silverfish?

Silverfish are ancient shiny gray or silver insects that are thought to be one of the oldest in the world. Measuring anywhere from one-half inch to one inch long, they’re wingless creatures that shed their skins throughout their adult lives.

Despite their creepy appearance, silverfish aren’t known to bite or carry any pathogens that cause disease. But while they’re not harmful to human or animal health, they can wreak havoc on your home.

Here are 13 things in your house attracting pests like silverfish.

Most active at night, these insects come flying out of that book you pick off the shelf for a bedtime read, that box of cereal you’re craving, or out of a drawer in your bathroom as you reach for the toothpaste.

Those silverfish are snacking on sugars and carbohydrates when you disturb them, chowing down on cereal, books, wallpaper, insulation, tissue, newspaper, cardboard and clothing. It’s unsettling and also a damaging because silverfish can put holes in your favorite things.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

To keep your belongings safe from these creatures, you’ll want to limit their food sources by keeping dry goods in airtight containers and vacuuming the floor and upholstery regularly.

Other helpful precautions include making sure the outside of your house and any open areas like gaps between walls and ceilings are caulked, well-painted and properly sealed. Dehumidifiers in damp areas can also help remove the moisture that silverfish enjoy.

Whether silverfish, cockroaches or something else, if you’ve got some unwanted visitors at your house, here’s the ultimate guide to dealing with ants, mice and other pests.