The Ultimate Guide to Silverfish

silverfish guide singapore

What Are Silverfish?

Silverfish are small, primitive insects that have a tapered body with three “tails” at the end of the abdomen. The body is silvery gray in color and they have a scaly fish-like appearance. The body size of these insects is only up to 2,5 cm in length. 

Further silverfish facts include that there are at least 120 types of silverfish found worldwide and they are believed to have evolved over 400 million years ago. The silverfish cannot fly and are most active at night when you may see them running about behind a book or in a drawer that you open.

silverfish fact

Life Cycle of Silverfish

The silverfish mate and lay eggs in areas like cracks and crevices where they are protected. They can lay up to 20 eggs and complete total development in 4 months. Silverfish females can lay eggs all year which means you can end up with a big problem.  

The young silverfish look like the adults when hatching but are small in size. They grow and moult until reaching adult size.

silverfish under logs

Where Do Silverfish Come From?

These insects are found living in moist and dark places such as under logs, bark, or leaf litter. They can enter houses and other dwellings where they will move into similarly dark and humid places.  Silverfish often enter a home through gaps and cracks.  

You may accidentally introduce silverfish into your home when you bring home books and other items from a second-hand bookshop or from a storage facility.  Silverfish in Singapore occur in homes and other dwellings, where they can cause damage.

Do Silverfish Bite?

Silverfish do not bite but they do cause damage, especially to books and fabrics. Although these insects do not bite, they can cause an allergic reaction in some people. In fact, children with asthma may be sensitive in some cases to allergens released by these insects. The allergens may be the proteins associated with the shed skin of the silverfish or even their faeces.

Damage caused by Silverfish

Silverfish don’t chew up wood like termites do but they nonetheless are a pest because they like to eat starchy substances.  

They have tiny mouths but the silverfish over time causes damage to a variety of surfaces including clothes. Eventually, you will start to find some clothes with little holes in them or that appear to have deteriorated.  

The silverfish is a particularly big problem when you store items for a long time.  These insects will reproduce and soon you will have dozens of silverfish eating away at all your fabrics, clothes, and paper items. 

Silverfish often chew up the pages of books and other paper-based materials. You may find important documents and pages of your favourite text with little holes in them because of these insects. 

The silverfish also like to eat sugar and bits of dried food so any food that is not properly stored may be targeted for a meal.

How to Prevent Silverfish?

Since silverfish like moist conditions, it is helpful to fix any leaking faucets or other damp areas of the home. A dehumidifier can also help to remove excess moisture and dampness from a dwelling and from cupboards.  

Check the weatherstripping and make sure to fix any cracks or gaps you find around the house.  Check that any area of caulk has not deteriorated leaving small holes that silverfish and other insects can crawl through. This can help prevent silverfish from getting into the house. 

Cleaning the house regularly is important. Vacuum and dust often and keep all food stored in proper containers. Clothing and books should also be checked often for any signs of damage.

Pro Tip: Ensuring a low level of humidity and keeping your home clean and organized will help to prevent silverfish.

Signs of Silverfish Infestation

There are some indications that you have a silverfish problem. We have listed these below: 

  1. Droppings. These may be hard to see because they are so small, but if you notice little black specks around books or in drawers; this could be a sign that silverfish or at least some pest insect is present.
  2. Live animals. You are very likely to disturb a silverfish when you move a book or clean out a drawer or move clothes around in the closet.
  3. Yellow staining on belongings. Book pages may show yellow-colored stains, which could be due to silverfish shedding their skins.
  4. Holes or chewed areas on belongings. Although small in size, silverfish do chew books and other items leaving fine, tiny holes, or damaged edges. These feeding marks are the main causes of silverfish damage. 

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

Once you discover you have a silverfish problem, the next steps are to begin control. Getting rid of silverfish is important to stop further damage from happening.  

While you can search for and try to kill silverfish on your own and it is unlikely you will find every single individual since they often hide in cracks and crevices. This is also tedious and time-consuming so it may be best to consult a pest control company to help with the problem.

How to Kill Silverfish?

There are traps you can use to catch silverfish, such as glue traps. You can also spray insecticide directly on the insect or fumigate. It is tricky to find and trap or even spray every silverfish in the house because they hide and are difficult to detect.  

This is why consulting a pest control specialist may be a good idea. Fumigation is an option if you have a big problem with silverfish and particularly if you have other pest insects like cockroaches that are present in large numbers. Always consult a professional if you are considering fumigation. 

Traps and even spraying insecticide may be dangerous if you have pets and small children in the house, this is another good reason to consult with a pest control specialist. 

Silverfish are ancient insects that are difficult to notice until they cause damage, which is why checking regularly for signs of a silverfish infestation is important in preventing future problems in the home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Silverfish don’t bite or sting, are not poisonous, and are considered harmless to humans. But they can damage your belongings and contaminate your food, and in some cases, cause an allergic reaction.

Silverfish can be found almost anywhere in the house, usually in dark and damp places. They come into the house through cracks and holes in the building exterior. Silverfish can also lay eggs in those cracks or contaminated belongings.

Silverfish are attracted to high humidity, moisture, and damp conditions. Homes with poor ventilation are prone to silverfish infestation.

Silverfish can eat almost anything, including money, books, clothes, grains, vegetables, fibers, cereals, sugars, and starches.

Washing your clothes at a high temperature can help kill silverfish and their eggs in your clothes. But pay attention to the highest temperature the material allows.