Characteristics, Habits, and Geograpy

Silverfish, alternatively known as paramites, fishmoths, or carpet sharks, are nocturnal, wingless insects approximately 1/2 to 1 inch in length. They have lengthy antennae, and elongated, flattened bodies with abdomens that become thinner at the end. The name “silverfish” comes from the insect’s typical coloring of silvery-blue, and from its way of wriggling as it moves, which gives it a fish-like appearance. Despite this unusual method of crawling, however, silverfish can actually move quite quickly.

Silverfish feed on materials containing sugars, starch and cellulose, including paper, photographs, mold, book bindings, glue, sugar, coffee, carpet, clothing, hair, and other common household items. They can cause extensive damage within the home, and are commonly considered pests. Silverfish have been known to live for as long as one year without eating.

Silverfish prefer warm, humid habitats, and are commonly throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia.

Damage Signs

Homeowners who have silverfish infestations are likely to spot the insects in areas such as bathtubs, bookcase shelves, basements, sinks, garages, attics, behind baseboards, and other dark, warm, moist areas. Other signs of infestation are holes in wallpaper and clothing chewed by silverfish. These holes are also sometimes accompanied by yellow stains.

Outdoors, silverfish can be found in the nests of other insects and of birds, beneath tree bark, and in the siding of houses.


Homeowners looking to eradicate silverfish from their homes may find that dehumidifiers are helpful, as a lack of moisture in the air will discourage the insects from remaining in the home. Fixing leaky pipes, carefully sealing up food, and eliminating any containers of standing water will also help to get rid of silverfish. Using a narrow vacuum head to vacuum areas around trim, baseboards, and cracks will often remove some of the insects. Additionally, silverfish are susceptible many insecticides currently on the market.