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Silverfish can cause significant damage to foodstuffs, paper products and clothing.

These fast running insects have become common inhabitants of manmade dwellings and are often found in dark sheltered areas about the home. Silverfish are usually less than 20 millimetres in length and silvery-grey in colour. They are often found in relatively undisturbed areas (eg bookcases, storage rooms), where they may damage paper, fabrics and other materials.


Silverfish are wingless and have a flattened, slender, scale covered body. Most have a silvery appearance and, because the body tapers to the rear, they are often said to have a fish like appearance. Antennae are usually long and slender, and three long appendages from the rear of the abdomen are very conspicuous. The structure of the young is similar to that of the adult.

Life cycle

Female silverfish lay eggs singly or in small batches, and these usually hatch in 2 8 weeks. The hatchlings closely resemble the adult form and undergo a number of moults. Usually, sexual maturity is attained after about 3 - 24 months. Silverfish continue to moult periodically throughout their adult life, which may be as long as 4 years.


Silverfish are agile, fast running, nocturnal insects that generally shun light. They are usually found in dark, undisturbed places but may range fairly widely throughout a given dwelling. Their inability to climb smooth surfaces often results in their being trapped in bathtubs and basins.

Silverfish as pests

Within buildings, silverfish may be found almost anywhere. They feed on most types of human food but seem to prefer starchy materials. When paper or photographs are attacked, it is often the outer, shiny layer that is most damaged. As well, book bindings, cottons, linens and wallpaper are often damaged. Any sources of glue, starch or sizing are likely to be attractive.

Control of silverfish

Silverfish usually live and develop close to their food source in damp, cool places, though they have the ability to live without food for several months. This pest is one of the most difficult to totally eliminate. The more food available, the more silverfish thrive, so professional treatment is advised.

If you find silverfish in your home or workplace, contact Melbourne Pest Control to discuss your options.