Silverfish are annoying, insidious insects that damage bookbinding, wallpaper, rayon fabrics, starched clothing and sized paper, but cause little real damage.

As they are nocturnal and slow breeders, they are usually discover through their damage – small irregular holes.

Modern home construction has provided silverfish with an ideal environment, particularly in cavity-brick walls and ceiling insulation.

Appearance and Habits

The mature silverfish is 1cm long with two long slender antennae, and three bristle at the rear. The flattened, slender, scaled body, the body has a grey – metallic sheen and tapers to the rear.

They prefer vegetable matter high in carbohydrate. Most damage, however, is done to wallpaper, bookbinding, rayon fabrics starched clothing and sized paper. Here they are seeking the carbohydrate in glues and starch.

Silverfish Life cycle

Silverfish are long living (they have been known to live for up to 5 years). The small, white oval eggs are deposited, either singularly or in small groups, in secluded places such as cracks and crevices.

The nymphs hatch in 2-8 weeks depending on temperature and/or humidity. The newly emerged insect is a scale less is a miniature of the adult. The scales appear within three to four moults. The insect goes through an indefinite amount of moults before they reach sexual maturity.

As adult females lay less than 100 eggs each over time, silverfish populations take a long time to develop.


Silverfish are fragile insects and are kept in check by disturbing their habitat regularly, this particularly applies to stored books and paper.

However where silverfish are breeding in cavity brick walls and insulated ceilings, control is much more difficult, and it is best to consult your pest controllers operator.

There are many insect and vertebrate pests which annoy and cause disease to people and their pets.

Visit our other pages to learn how to limit the risk of having pests in your home.