Common Silverfish Species: Common Silverfish


The common silverfish is an insect pest that can damage household goods while feeding. It seeks out damp, dark places where it can consume proteins and carbohydrates – most notably book bindings and paper products held together with paste. It is a particularly bothersome pest for museums, libraries and other archival institutions.


Common silverfish look a lot like centipedes, but have far fewer legs (only six) and have a silvery sheen that may make them look white. Common silverfish move quickly on flat surfaces, often in an undulating, fishlike gait.

Key physical characteristics of common silverfish include:

  • Silver sheen
  • Up to an inch long
  • Six legs
  • Fast on horizontal surfaces
  • Slow on walls
  • Carrot-shaped body
  • Antennae on the head
  • Three tail-like growths at the end of their body


You can find the common silverfish in damp, dark places such as a kitchen, bathroom, basement, cellar, garage, shed or attic. They need high humidity to survive and generally avoid exposure to bright lights. They maintain a nocturnal activity cycle.


The common silverfish is a worldwide pest, and has been found in both North and South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia and throughout the Pacific Islands region.


Bed Bugs In Home

Common silverfish often feed for a long time before being discovered. They are often found eating the following items.

  • Book bindings
  • Carpets and carpet glue
  • Cereal
  • Coffee beans and coffee grounds
  • Cotton
  • Dead insects
  • Dead skin cells
  • Dandruff
  • Flour
  • Household dust
  • Rayon
  • Silk
  • Wallpaper paste or glue


Common silverfish are not known to bite humans, and are not known to spread diseases to humans. However, some people can develop an allergy to these insects.

Control Options

To keep common silverfish from entering your property, create a barrier against these pests with TERRO® Ant Dust. Treat the areas where these tiny insects can hide, including wall voids, cracks, crevices, water pipes and all areas where moisture is prevalent. TERRO® Ant Dust remains effective for up to eight months.

Individual silverfish can be targeted with TERRO® Spider Killer Spray, which kills these bugs on contact.

Other control options include: