Who Preys on Silverfish? Understanding Their Natural Enemies

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Silverfish are small, wingless insects that can be found in many homes. They have a unique, fish-like appearance with flat bodies, tapered at both ends, and covered by overlapping scales. Measuring about 1/2 inch in length, they’re known for their long antennae and three tail-like appendages at the end of their abdomen [^1^].

You might be wondering, what creatures prey on silverfish and help keep their populations in check? Understanding the predators of silverfish is essential, as it can help you determine the most effective way to manage these insects in and around your home. In the next paragraphs, we will discuss the various animals known to prey on silverfish and their role in the ecosystem.

What Are Silverfish?


Silverfish are small, wingless insects with a distinct silvery appearance due to their bodies being covered in fine scales. They have long antennae and three tail-like appendages extending from their abdomen. Adult silverfish can grow up to 3/4 inch in length, with a flattened, elongated, and oval shape. Their eyes are small and located on opposite sides of the head (source).


Silverfish prefer locations with high levels of moisture and humidity. They tend to dwell in dark, damp environments like basements, kitchens, and bathrooms (source). They are also known to hide in small holes, behind bookcases, and inside carpet. In your home, you may find them near book bindings, papers, and cardboard materials due to the cellulose content.


Silverfish primarily feast on carbohydrates, proteins, and cellulose items found in your home (source). Here are some examples of their food sources:

  • Books
  • Cardboard
  • Papers
  • Glue
  • Fabrics (cotton and silk)

They may also consume small amounts of vegetables, flour, and other pantry items if available. It’s important to keep your belongings and food items stored properly to avoid attracting these pests.

Silverfish Infestation

Signs of Infestation

You may notice several signs when dealing with a silverfish infestation in your home. For instance, you might find small holes in books, clothing, or wallpaper, where they feed on the glue or fabric. Additionally, you might see tiny yellowish stains on the surfaces they’ve come into contact with.

Keep an eye out for their feces, which resemble black pepper and can be found in areas like sinks, windows, or near water sources. Also, observe any silvery-looking exoskeletons that have been shed by silverfish as they grow.

Causes of Infestation

A silverfish infestation is typically caused by a combination of factors. They love damp, dark environments, so they’re likely to accumulate in areas where there’s excess moisture. Some examples of such places include:

  • Crevices and cracks, where they can hide from predators
  • Near water sources like sinks and bathtubs
  • Unventilated areas like basements and attics

Silverfish will continue to multiply as long as they find food sources like paper, clothing, and glue. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep these materials tidy and stored in a dry place.

Implications of Infestation

A silverfish infestation can be quite problematic, causing damage to your belongings and posing potential health risks. Some of the adverse effects include:

  • Destruction of items: Silverfish chew on various materials like books, clothes, and wallpaper, causing holes and stains.
  • Allergies: The feces and dust produced by silverfish can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.
  • Attracting predators: Silverfish might also attract other insects or predators like spiders and centipedes into your home.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to silverfish infestations. By addressing their preferred living conditions, you can reduce their presence in your home and protect your belongings from damage.

Natural Predators of Silverfish

Earwigs, spiders, and centipedes are among the predators that feed on silverfish. These creatures share a common trait in controlling silverfish populations.

Earwigs are nocturnal, and they love to feed on small insects like silverfish. Here’s what you ought to know about earwigs:

  • They have pincers at the end of their abdomen, which they use to catch prey.
  • Earwigs are attracted to damp and dark places, which are also the favorite hiding spots of silverfish.

Spiders are another natural foe of the silverfish. Some characteristics of these predators include:

  • Spiders use webs to trap their prey, while some actively hunt down smaller insects, like silverfish.
  • Their venom paralyzes their catch, making it an effective way to control silverfish populations.

Finally, centipedes are adept at hunting silverfish. Here are some of their features:

  • Centipedes have numerous legs and move quickly, which helps them chase down silverfish.
  • They inject venom into their prey via their modified front legs, effectively neutralizing silverfish.

Let’s take a closer look at the comparison between these predators:

Earwigs Spiders Centipedes
Hunting Pincers Webs Speed
Habitat Damp places Various Dark areas
Method Catching Trapping Chasing
Effect Controls Controls Controls

In summary, earwigs, spiders, and centipedes play a significant role in controlling the population of silverfish. By understanding these predators’ characteristics and habitat preferences, you can leverage their natural instincts to help control silverfish infestations in your home or other environments.

Effective Control Measures Against Silverfish

Prevention Measures

Keeping your home clean and dry is essential to prevent silverfish infestations. You can:

  • Vacuum regularly and remove debris to discourage their nesting.
  • Reduce humidity by using a dehumidifier in damp areas like basements.
  • Store food, paper, and clothes in airtight containers to limit access.

In addition, some natural deterrents work well in warding off silverfish:

  • Cinnamon, bay leaves, and lavender can be placed strategically around your home.
  • Scatter diatomaceous earth in areas with high silverfish activity.

Remedial Measures

If you already have a silverfish infestation, consider these remedial steps:

  • Sticky traps can trap and monitor silverfish populations.
  • Apply boric acid in crevices and along baseboards, but be careful as it can harm humans and pets.
  • Use insecticides like propoxur, but read instructions carefully and reach out to a professional exterminator if necessary.

For a quick comparison of some prevention and remedial measures, refer to the table below:

Method Pros Cons
Dehumidifier Reduces humidity May not stop silverfish completely
Airtight Containers Limits silverfish access to food Requires proper sealing and maintenance
Sticky Traps Easy to use and monitor silverfish May not eliminate infestations
Boric Acid Effective against silverfish Harmful to humans and pets

If you’ve tried these methods without success, it might be time to contact a professional exterminator, like Orkin, for assistance. They can help assess the situation and propose effective solutions, such as using silverfish traps or other pest control strategies.

Other Details

Silverfish are a common household pest that can be quite bothersome. They are known for feeding on various items like polysaccharides, grains, adhesives, and even mold and dead insects. However, they are not the only pests sharing this appetite. Interestingly, cockroaches and earwigs are similarly attracted to these food sources.

In order to better understand the differences and similarities among these pests, let’s take a closer look at some of their features:

  • Silverfish:
    • Slender, silver/blue with a tapered, tail-like end
    • Nocturnal and fast-moving
    • Primarily consume organic materials
  • Cockroaches:
    • Oval, flat, brown to reddish-brown in color
    • Highly adaptable and resilient
    • Broad eating habits: organic materials, garbage, and food
  • Earwigs:
    • Elongated, flat, with pincers at the end of their abdomen
    • Partially nocturnal and fast-moving
    • Prefer plant-based materials, but also eat dead insects

Here’s a comparison table to further illustrate their similarities and contrasts:

Pests Appearance Activity Diet
Silverfish Slender, silver/blue, tapered Nocturnal Organic materials, grains, adhesives, mold
Cockroaches Oval, flat, brown to reddish Adaptable Organic materials, garbage, food
Earwigs Elongated, flat, with pincers Nocturnal Plant-based, some dead insects

As you can see, these household pests have several traits in common, such as their preference for organic materials and being more active at night. However, they differ in their appearances and specific diet preferences. Understanding these distinctions can help you identify the type of pest infestation you may be dealing with and take the appropriate measures to control them. Keep in mind that preventing access to their preferred food sources and maintaining a clean living space will significantly reduce the likelihood of an infestation.


  • 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.

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  • 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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Tags: Siverfish

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