If you’ve ever had to go down into your basement or run to the bathroom late at night, you may have had an encounter with some rather unsavory creatures.

One of the more frightening unexpected house guests commonly found in Northeastern Pennsylvania is the silverfish. These old-world insects can give unsuspecting humans a shock, but they are not dangerous as they look – at least not to people.

So, what exactly are silverfish, and how can you keep them out of your home?

These shiny gray insects have been around for millions of years.

What are silverfish?

Named for their metallic appearance, silverfish look like they came out of the Jurassic period. These shiny gray insects have been around for millions of years and are known for their fish-like shape and movements.

They can be anywhere from ½ inch to 1-inch long, including their stringy antenna and bristly tails. While they are usually silver, these insects can also be brown, and they frequently shed their skin.

Silverfish are typically more active at night and tend to stay hidden.  Their favorite places are humid, moist areas in the home, including basements, attics, and bathrooms. Once they have made their way inside, they can hide out anywhere, including light fixtures, ceilings, and soffits. 

Are silverfish harmful?

While these insects may look frightful, they aren’t dangerous. Silverfish don’t bite, and they aren’t classified as poisonous. Also, if you find a few in your home, you don’t have to worry about contracting a deadly virus. They aren’t known to carry any deadly diseases, though their shedding skin can trigger allergic reactions. 

Silverfish molt their skin and often leave feces, tiny, black pepper pellets, in their wake. While not harmful on a grand scale, these irritants can cause allergies to flare up.

So, what’s the problem with silverfish?

While they may not be harmful to us, silverfish can damage plenty of other things that you might miss. Quite the nuisance, these insects will eat just about anything, particularly cereal, books, wallpaper, clothes, and even insulation or human hair.

They aren’t exactly picky when it comes to nourishment. Silverfish consume sugar and carbs, so they eat a wide array of foods. 

Depending on what they “sink their teeth into,” silverfish can destroy some things you love around your home. Additionally, they tend to leave yellow stains, scales, and feces on any materials they touch. You might find feeding marks, holes, or other signs that silverfish have inhabited your home. Now, the question is, how do you get them out?

be sure to take the proper steps to protect your home and discourage any unwanted visitors.

How do I get rid of them?

The best way to keep silverfish out of your home is to prevent them from getting inside in the first place. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Since silverfish like to stay hidden away in the dark, damp parts of your home, you may not even know they are there.

They are flat and fast, so it can be difficult to know if you have an infestation. Keep an eye out for warning signs, like yellow markings, scales, or feeding marks in your belongings. 

To discourage any unwanted house guests, you want to make your home inhabitable for them. Keep any possible food in closed, air-tight containers. This doesn’t just mean pet food, cereal, or other carbs in your kitchen. If you are storing books, clothing, or in an attic or basement, it’s best to keep them in sealed containers as well. If you can avoid it, don’t store any items that may be a silverfish delicacy in the basement, attic, or garage. 

To stop them from getting inside, be sure to perform regular maintenance on your home’s exterior. Check for and seal any open areas, cracks, or holes any pest may slip through. Silverfish are small and do not need much space to sneak inside.

Even the smallest crack should be sealed. Use caulking and paint to seal any open areas, and screens for any spots that cannot be closed off. Additionally, be sure to clean gutters frequently and ensure water is draining properly to avoid moisture build-up.

Inside, if you have an unfinished basement, you can line dirt floors with plastic sheeting to keep dampness at bay. You can also use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture, especially during the warmer seasons. It’s also a good idea to vacuum other areas of your home frequently to pick up any possible “snacks” left behind.  If there’s no food, water, or privacy, the silverfish will look elsewhere for a home.

If all else fails or you have a sizeable infestation, you can refer to a pest control expert to help you get rid of silverfish for good.

Though silverfish may look frightening, they are nothing to be afraid of — that is, unless you don’t want them ruining your possessions or aggravating your allergies. Just be sure to take the proper steps to protect your home and discourage any unwanted visitors.

Keep an eye out for any warning signs that might raise some red flags and make repairs where necessary. As always, if you suspect you have an infestation, reach out to a pest control expert to help you fortify your home and put a stop to those slippery silverfish.



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