Do Silverfish Bite People? Revealing the Truth About Silverfish
Eek! What’s that?
Nobody wants to see an uninvited house guest. Especially when it slips away and you know its lurking.
Silverfish tend to do exactly this. Not to mention, they look like something otherworldly and they can ruin your property too.
But do silverfish bite? Are they harmful to people or pets? Or are they nuisances that don’t warrant much panic at all?
These are important questions to ask, especially when you see one scurry across your wall. So continue reading and we’ll reveal the truth to you about silverfish.
What Are Silverfish?
The silverfish has a fairly off-putting appearance to it. In fact, they look a lot like venomous centipedes. They go by other names as well, including carpet sharks, paramites, Lepisma saccharina, and fish moths.
The silverfish is a wingless insect. It’s shaped sort of like a carrot and their small bodies are an overall silver color with gray scales. They move quickly in a swervy, fish-like motion.
It also has a tail with three prongs. You’ll likely notice their protruding antennas too. You can find these insects on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.
Do Silverfish Bite People?
For as scary as they may appear, you will be happy to know that no, silverfish do not bite people. They are much more afraid of you then you are of them. And if you go after a silverfish, they will scurry off to safety at lightning speed.
In fact, you’re more likely to end up just hurting yourself trying to catch one of those little things. These insects love to hide in crevices and cracks that people can’t reach. They go out at night to eat and hide during the daytime.
So What Do Silverfish Eat?
A silverfish won’t bite you, but they will bite your stuff. They love to eat items that contain polysaccharides. Examples are dextrin and starches in adhesives.
Silverfish may very likely be found eating away at your books, carpet, coffee, glue, paint, photos, sugar, bindings, clothing, dandruff, hair, paper, and plaster. They’ll also damage your wallpaper so they can eat the adhesive paste.
They’re also known to harm people’s tapestries as well as things made out of linen, cotton, and silk. They’ll also eat leftover bread crumbs, dead insects, and even their own molted exoskeletons. If it’s really hungry, it might even eat synthetic fabrics and leather.
If they have access to water, a silverfish can even live up to a whole year without eating any food.
Silverfish tend to make small holes in the things that they bite and they can also leave behind yellow stains. It would be wise to search for them in places that are damp and dark. This can be in garages, underneath sinks, and in bathrooms.
You can also find them in your plumbing and piles of linen or clothes. They also like to build their nests near their food sources. Although silverfish are essentially harmless to people, they can cause allergic reactions such as rhinitis or bronchial asthma.
Will a Silverfish Bite Your Pet?
Similar to centipedes, a silverfish may appear poisonous to both humans and their pets. However, they really just like to munch on starchy foods. So unless your pet is an old book, you can rest easy knowing that they have no interest in taking a bite out of your furry friend.
They’re actually very harmless insects and don’t even use their mouths in self-defense.
Also, silverfish are nocturnal, so you’re likely only going to see them in the daytime if you disturb their hiding place.
How to Prevent Silverfish from Living in Your Home
Even though silverfish aren’t harmful, they can still ruin your stuff and just gross people out in general. Luckily, there are measures you can take to reduce your chances of a silverfish invasion.
Keep Your Papers Neat and Tidy
As we said earlier, silverfish love to eat old papers. You certainly don’t want to leave old mail, books, or newspapers lying around your home. Try your best to keep your floors clean and free of things that could be considered food for a silverfish.
Store your mail and other papers in closets, shelves, storage containers, or cupboards. If you get a box in the mail, throw it out after you open it. Leaving out and on the floor can easily attract silverfish.
And definitely don’t keep wet paper lying around.
Store Your Off-Season Clothing
Is the sun finally coming out and bringing rising temperatures with it? Don’t just throw your winter clothes off into a pile somewhere. Silverfish love damp basements and dark closets.
Try to store your off-season clothes in sealed bins with tight lids or in plastic bags. The silverfish won’t be interested in trying to eat your plastic.
When you vacuum your carpets and baseboards, you can easily end up sucking out potential food sources as well as silverfish eggs. Vacuum once a week or more to keep your home tidy and silverfish-free.
If you want, feel free to sprinkle some baking soda on your carpets for a few hours and then vacuum it. This is going to help your machine suck up any silverfish eggs lying around.
Also, thoroughly wipe down your kitchen counters and clean up any food crumbs.
Get a Dehumidifier
As we stated, silverfish love dampness. They love eating damp things and living in damp places. By reducing the humidity levels in your home with a dehumidifier, you are creating a less inviting space for silverfish to live in. If you don’t have access to a dehumidifier, try to keep your fans or air conditioner on.
Seal and caulk the holes in open vents, crawl spaces, and the basement in order to control the moisture levels.
Silverfish prefer to live in damp places, so you can get rid of humidity in your surroundings by using a dehumidifier which reduces the humidity level in your house. If you do not have access to the dehumidifier, you can keep the air conditioner or fans on. Control moisture in the basement, crawl spaces and open vents by caulking and sealing the holes.
Install a Bathroom Fan for Your Shower
Any bathroom with a shower in it should have a bathroom fan. This is going to help you greatly reduce the humidity in your bathroom and eliminate lingering moisture. Opening your bathroom windows is another great way to encourage ventilation and keep silverfish away.
If silverfish have already invaded your home, you’re going to have to do more than just practice preventative measures. Let’s looks at some helpful options.
Sprinkling boric acid in areas where you often see silverfish is one popular solution. It has low toxicity but can still kill off silverfish. You can also buy traps that contain boric acid to get rid of your silverfish problem.
There’s also the diatomaceous Earth solution. These are small silicate shells made of tiny sea diatoms.
They are lethal to a variety of insects and work by penetrating the pest’s exoskeleton and dehydrating them. You should spring this in cracks and crevices but make sure that your children and pets won’t breathe it in.
Pyrethrin is a chemical pesticide but it’s also considered less toxic than other toxins and is also biodegradable. This is because pyrethrin comes from the seeds of the pyrethrum plant. Pyrethrin is the active ingredient in a lot of tick and flea pet collars.
While there is no 100% safe pesticide, pyrethrin is definitely one of the more attractive options.
Call in the Pros
The best way to make sure you get rid of all the silverfish in your home is to contact an exterminator. You’re going to want someone who can provide both granular and liquid pest control techniques so that your home can be double protected.
As we stated, silverfish are hard to find and even harder to catch. Exterminators have the technology and experience necessary to catch these pests and get rid of them before they completely take over your home.
The Importance of Understanding What Silverfish Are all About
Hopefully, after reading the above, you now have an answer to the question “Do silverfish bite?”. And the answers to many other burning silverfish questions you had. Luckily, we can see that silverfish are generally unharmful.
Still, they can ruin your belongings and be a general nuisance. Because of this, you’re going to want to get them out of your home as soon as you spot them.
Do you have a silverfish problem that you need to be taken care of? Contact us today and see how we can help you!
Interested in learning how we can help with other pests? Visit our Pest Pages section for information on the extermination of fleas, gnats, spiders, and bed bugs. Or check out our recent blog posts on rodents, bats, and fruit flies.