Do Silverfish Make Noise? Uncovering the Truth

Silverfish are small, wingless insects known for their silvery appearance and fish-like movements. They are commonly found in homes, often in dark and damp areas like basements, attics, and kitchens. These pests can cause damage to paper materials, fabrics, and even wallpaper as they feed on carbohydrates, such as starches and sugars.

One common question when dealing with silverfish is whether or not they make any noise. Upon observation, they are not known for producing any audible sounds. Their quiet nature, combined with their ability to move swiftly and discreetly, often makes it difficult for homeowners to detect their presence.

It is important to be aware of the subtle signs of a silverfish infestation, such as holes in paper materials, frayed fabrics, or yellowish stains. Being vigilant will help in addressing the issue early on and prevent possible damage to your belongings.

Do Silverfish Make Noise

Silverfish are small insects which are known for their distinctive fish-like appearance. They are silver or pearl-gray in color, typically 0.85 cm (0.33 in) in length, and have two long antennae1.

As for the noise, silverfish do not produce any significant sounds that humans can perceive. Unlike some insects that communicate or make noise by clicking, silverfish are relatively quiet creatures.

In comparison, ocean noise is a term that refers to sounds made by human activities, which can interfere with the ability of marine animals to hear natural sounds in the ocean2. Unlike ocean noise, silverfish do not contribute to any noticeable disturbance in their surroundings.

To sum up the characteristics of silverfish:

  • Silver or pearl-gray color
  • Fish-like appearance with overlapping scales
  • Wingless and small, about 1/2 inch in length
  • No significant noise produced

Identifying Silverfish

Physical Characteristics

Silverfish are small insects with a distinct appearance. They have a silver or pearl-gray color and their bodies are covered in tiny glistening scales. These wingless insects typically measure around 0.85 cm (0.33 in) in length and have two long antennae. Another notable feature is the presence of three appendages resembling “tails” at the abdomen tip.

Key Features:

  • Silver or pearl-gray color
  • Covered in glistening scales
  • Wingless
  • 0.85 cm (0.33 in) in length
  • Two long antennae
  • Three “tail” appendages

Preferred Habitats

Silverfish prefer dark, damp environments, such as basements, attics, and areas with high humidity. They are commonly found near sources of water like sinks or around windows and door frames. In homes, they are likely to hide behind baseboards or in cracks, particularly where they have access to food sources like paper and wallpaper.

Habitats to look for:

  • Basements
  • Attics
  • High humidity areas
  • Near water sources

Signs of Infestation

Detecting a silverfish infestation can be challenging as they are nocturnal creatures. However, some signs that may indicate their presence include:

  • Yellow stains or tiny black specks on walls, books, or paper
  • Feeding marks, such as irregular holes on wallpaper or chewed books and papers
  • Bristletails on carpet, especially near baseboards
  • Sightings of adult silverfish, especially during nighttime

Signs of infestation:

  • Yellow stains or black specks
  • Feeding marks on wallpaper, books, or paper
  • Bristletails on carpet
  • Sightings at night

Damage Caused by Silverfish

Household Items

Silverfish are known to cause damage to various household items, as they feed on materials containing starches and cellulose. Some common targets include:

  • Wallpapers: Silverfish eat the glue that holds the wallpaper to walls, causing it to peel off.
  • Books: They chew on book pages and bindings, leaving holes and stains.
  • Carpets, rugs, and upholstery: These insects damage fibers in carpets, rugs, and upholstery by consuming both the material and the dirt in them.

Health Concerns

Although silverfish are not directly harmful to humans, they can create indirect health concerns.

  • Dust and allergens: As they feed on paper products, skin cells, and dust, the particles they leave behind can worsen allergies and asthma symptoms.
  • Mold growth: Silverfish thrive in moist environments, which can encourage mold growth and contribute to poor air quality in a home.
Household Item Damage Caused by Silverfish
Wallpapers Eat glue, causing peeling
Books Chew on pages and bindings, leaving holes and stains
Carpets, rugs, and upholstery Damage fibers and consume dirt

Pros of silverfish infestation:

  • Silverfish do not bite humans, saving us from physical harm.
  • They help break down and recycle organic material.

Cons of silverfish infestation:

  • Damages household items, including wallpapers, books, carpets, rugs, and upholstery.
  • Contributes to allergens and mold growth, both of which negatively affect indoor air quality.

Preventing and Controlling Silverfish Infestations

Home Remedies

  • Cinnamon and cloves: Scatter cinnamon or cloves in potential silverfish hideouts; these natural ingredients repel the pests without being toxic.

  • Sealing cracks and crevices: Seal potential entry points for silverfish such as cracks, holes, and crevices to prevent an infestation.

  • Removing food sources: Keep your home clean and tidy, and store food items in airtight containers to eliminate food sources like cereals, dried meat, papers, and textiles.

Non-Toxic Solutions

  • Diatomaceous earth: Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around areas where silverfish are likely to be found. This non-toxic powder damages the silverfish’s exoskeleton, causing it to dehydrate and die.

  • Air circulation and dehumidifiers: Use fans and dehumidifiers to reduce moisture levels in damp areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements, where silverfish thrive.

Professional Pest Control

  • Insecticides: Professional pest control specialists can apply appropriate insecticides, such as pyrethrin, to specified areas to manage a severe silverfish infestation effectively.

  • Customized treatment plans: Professionals can develop targeted treatment plans to control and prevent silverfish presence in your home, focusing on areas more prone to infestations.

Comparison Table

Method Pros Cons
Home Remedies Cost-effective, non-toxic May require more time, trial-and-error
Non-Toxic Solutions Eco-friendly, safe for pets May not be as effective on large infestations
Professional Pest Control Faster results, expert advice Can be expensive, some chemicals may be toxic

By following these recommendations, you can help prevent and control silverfish infestations in your home using a combination of home remedies, non-toxic solutions, and, if necessary, professional pest control services.

Footnotes

  1. Entnemdept.ufl.edu

  2. Oceanservice.noaa.gov

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Silverfish

 

silver fish???
I came across your site about a week ago and was trying to find out what kind of bugs were the ones I kept on seeing in my new apartment. Especially by the base of the fridge and the nearby baseboards. I had just moved in and had never seen such weird creatures…seemingly intelligent…but nasty at first look, especially when they runaway soooo fast!!! it’s like roaches on speed or something…someone said they could be Silver Fish…is that right??? What else do u know about them??? and how do I get rid of them???? Also…can they carry any diseases??? how big do they get???
if it doesn’t swim why do they call it a fish??? I’ve enclosed a close up shot of the BUG….along with a portrait with its brother…or sister??? thanks for your help
Antonio

Hi Antonio,
This is indeed a Silverfish. They are among the most primitive insects living today. They are so called because their bodies are covered with shiny thick scales and also because of the way they wriggle when they run. they are slippery and difficult to catch. They feed on dry organic debris, and they eat paper especially if it contains sizing or glue. They can do considerable damage to books. They are not disease vectors.

Letter 2 – Silverfish

 

Bug in Apartment
Location: Central North Carolina, USA
February 12, 2011 1:39 pm
I see a lot of these bugs in my apartment. What are they? Are they roaches? How can I get rid of them and prevent them from coming back? Thanks!
Signature: HB

Silverfish

Dear HB,
This is a Silverfish, and it is a common household pest.  Judging by the number of recent identification requests we have received, they might be becoming more common.  Silverfish are reported to be very difficult to eradicate, and we do not give extermination advice.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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