Finding silverfish in your house is a common but unpleasant experience for many residents across British Columbia including Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo. These small, silvery insects are known for their destructive feeding habits and their ability to thrive in damp conditions. If you’re tired of finding silverfish scurrying across your floors and want to learn effective methods for getting rid of silverfish, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we’ll explain how to identify a silverfish problem in your house and explore practical strategies to eliminate these pesky pests.

What are Silverfish?

Silverfish are small (0.5 – 1 inch long), wingless insects that are silvery-gray or silver-blue in colour. They have a slender, elongated body that tapers toward the rear, giving them a somewhat carrot-shaped appearance. They have two long antennae at the front of their bodies and three long, tail-like appendages at the rear.

Silverfish insects are known for their unique movements, which resemble the way a fish moves through water. They are often associated with damp and dark environments, however, they are capable of thriving in a wide range of conditions. 

What’s the difference between a Silverfish and a Firebrat?

Silverfish and firebrats are often confused for one another and for good reason. They share similar body size and shape and are both found in damp indoor environments. Firebrats, however, have a darker, more mottled colouring than silverfish and they favour even warmer and more humid locations like boiler rooms. They are known for being faster and more active than silverfish but share a similar diet. 

When it comes to pest control efforts the strategies for getting rid of silverfish and firebrats are much the same. The following information in this blog post will apply no matter if you’re dealing with a silverfish or firbrat infestation. 

Silverfish vs Firebrat

What’s the difference between a Silverfish and a House Centipede?

Though both silverfish and house centipedes send shivers down the spines of many homeowners, they are in fact quite distinct insects. House centipedes are longer (1-1.5 inches), faster and have many more than the 6-legs of silverfish. Centipedes and silverfish also have different diets – House centipedes are predators that hunt and eat other insects and spiders, whereas silverfish consume paper, glue and clothing. House centipedes also do not sport the titular silver colouring of a silverfish.

It’s important to be able to tell the difference between silverfish and centipedes because it will inform what pest control steps are used to get rid of them. Some strategies such as reducing humidity and cleaning the home will work for both pests. However, not all the strategies outlined below will be effective against house centipedes as well as silverfish. If you are not sure which insect you are dealing with contact your local pest control professionals. An expert will be able to identify the issue for you and outline a tailored approach for your home. 

Silverfish Vs House centipede

What Do Silverfish Eat?

Silverfish feed on a variety of materials but prefer starchy carbohydrates. They are known to infest items such as paper, books, cardboard, glue, and wallpaper. This makes them a nuisance in homes, as they can damage these items over time.

Are Silverfish Harmful?

Silverfish are generally not considered harmful to humans. They do not pose a direct health threat, as they do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases. However, silverfish can be considered nuisances for several reasons:

  • Damage to Property: Silverfish are known for their destructive feeding habits. They can damage or consume items like paper, books, wallpaper, clothing, and other materials containing starches and sugars. Over time, this can lead to the deterioration of valuable or sentimental items.
  • Allergens: In some cases, their shed scales and droppings may contribute to indoor allergens and trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
  • Contaminated Food: Silverfish can spread contaminants throughout homes and into stored foods by leaving trails of feces in their wake. 
  • Aesthetic Concerns: The presence of silverfish in a home can be aesthetically displeasing and unsettling for some people, leading to discomfort and concerns about hygiene.
  • Health Risk Indicators: Silverfish infestations are often a sign of underlying moisture issues in a building, which can be a problem in itself and may contribute to mould growth or damage to structural elements.

Signs of a Silverfish Infestation

Recognizing the signs of a silverfish or firebrat infestation is crucial for early detection and effective pest control. Here are some common indicators of a silverfish or firebrat infestation:

  • Sightings: Seeing silverfish is the most obvious sign of an infestation. Look for their nests or hiding places in dark, damp areas like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and attics.
  • Damage to Paper and Books: Silverfish often feed on paper, books, cardboard, and wallpaper. If you notice irregular holes on these materials, it’s a strong indicator of their presence. Silverfish may also leave behind a starchy residue on items they have consumed.
  • Feeding Marks on Clothing: Silverfish may also damage clothing and fabrics made of natural fibres by feeding on them. Look for small holes or irregular areas of damage. 
  • Presence of Scales and Droppings: Silverfish leave tiny, silvery scales behind as they moult. You may also find their small, pepper-like feces in areas where they feed.

How do you get rid of silverfish?

Getting rid of silverfish requires a combination of strategies that focus on eliminating their food sources and reducing moisture. Here are steps to effectively remove silverfish or firebrats from your home:

  • Reduce Humidity: Silverfish thrive in high-humidity environments. Use dehumidifiers or ensure proper ventilation in areas like basements, attics, bathrooms, and kitchens to maintain lower humidity levels.
  • Fix Leaks: Address any plumbing or structural leaks promptly, as standing water and moisture can attract silverfish. Repair any leaky pipes or damaged roof areas to eliminate water sources.
  • Seal Entry Points: Seal cracks, gaps, and crevices in walls, floors, and ceilings where silverfish can enter. Pay special attention to areas where plumbing and utility lines pass through walls.
  • Store Items Properly: Keep paper, books, clothing, and other susceptible items in airtight containers or plastic storage bins. This prevents silverfish from accessing and feeding on them.
  • Declutter: Remove clutter from dark and damp areas where silverfish are likely to hide. This reduces their hiding spots and makes it easier to spot and address an infestation.
  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean and vacuum your home, paying attention to baseboards, cracks, and hidden areas where silverfish may hide. 
  • Professional Pest Control: If you have a severe or persistent silverfish problem, consult with a pest control professional. They can provide targeted treatments and advice tailored to your specific situation.


Get rid of silverfish quickly!

Old Island Pest Control offers pest management and exterminator services for both residential and commercial properties. We have local silverfish pest control experts at locations across Vancouver Island, including Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville & Qualicum, Courtenay, Victoria and Campbell River. Call us today to learn how we can help.


Silverfish FAQs:

Are silverfish common in BC? Are silverfish common in Victoria, Nanaimo or on Vancouver Island?

Yes, silverfish are common in British Columbia. In particular, coastal cities like Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo, experience high humidity levels, which are conducive to silverfish infestations. 

Should I be worried if I have silverfish?

While they are not harmful to humans, you should be concerned if you have silverfish in your home because they can cause damage to your belongings, particularly items containing starches like paper and clothing. Additionally, a silverfish infestation can indicate underlying moisture problems that need to be addressed to maintain a healthy and pest-free living environment.

What causes silverfish in a house?

Silverfish are attracted to damp and humid conditions. Leaky pipes, high indoor humidity, and poor ventilation can create the ideal environment for silverfish to thrive. Their primary motivation for entering homes is to seek moisture and food sources (paper, glue, clothing…).

How to get rid of silverfish insects?

To get rid of silverfish insects, start by addressing the root cause: reduce humidity and moisture in your home with dehumidifiers and improved ventilation. Remove or secure their food sources, such as paper, books, and clothing, by storing them in airtight containers. If you have a severe or persistent silverfish problem, consult with a pest control professional. They can provide targeted treatments and advice tailored to your specific situation.