Identify Pest: Silverfish and Firebrat Infestations
Silverfish are fast-moving furtive pests that can cause significant damage. These slithery bugs like to hide in dark places and feast on books, paper (even wall paper), clothes, holiday decorations, glues and starches, plus dry foods like cereal, pasta, flour and pet food. They can slip into your home through cracks and hitch hike in on firewood, lumber, in boxes, and even supplies like wallboard from the hardware store. Firebrats are a different insect, slightly smaller than a silverfish, and can cause similar damage.
Identifying Silverfish and Firebrats
Silverfish, lepisma saccharina, are shiny, silvery insects that are between 1/2 inch long to 3/4 inch long. Firebrats, thermobia domestica, have ½ inch gray to brown bodies. Both are skinny and wingless with three long tails. These insects are hardy, with a lifespan that can reach 3 years. They can go days without months without eating and survive temperatures from freezing up to 100 degrees.
Where Silverfish and Firebrats Hide
Though they can survive temperature extremes, they prefer the dark, warm and damp. The kitchen is a common infestation area around appliances and in dark cupboards. You can also find them in attics and basements where there is moisture and warmth. Because they do eat clothes, you can also find them in laundry rooms and closets. When people find silverfish and firebrats in the sink or bathtub, they think the insects came up through the drain. Silverfish and firebrats are actually not that nimble. Insects you find more likely fell in and were not able to climb out steep, slippery sides.
Silverfish and Firebrat Damage—Detecting an Infestation
You can often detect a silverfish or firebrat problem by the damage they do. Both insects have cellulose digesting enzymes and they are attracting to paper and starches. If you see irregular holes in paper and fabric, you probably have silverfish. Sometimes you see stains from their feces or secondary damage caused by fungus often found in parallel with these pests. Because they are nocturnal and move fast to hide when exposed to light, they are hard to see. You can use sticky traps where you think you have a problem to see if you catch any. Silverfish will travel far when foraging for food, so finding an insect is only the first step. Finding a nesting site takes some expertise.
Getting Rid of Silverfish and Firebrats
Clean and dry are the watchwords for preventing a silverfish problem and for getting rid of firebrats. Keep basements, attics, cabinets, bathrooms and laundry areas dry. Regularly clean out dust and debris. Keep stored food and clothing in airtight containers. Consider storing old books and magazines in a storage locker instead of the basement. We recommend closable plastic containers.
Treating these pests isn’t easy, as you will need to specialized insecticides and methods for application. You probably need an expert can find and treat a nesting site, especially those inside walls and behind baseboards.
Firebrats and silverfish are covered in our effective and affordable Integrated Pest Management Annual Package KO-12 Program that provides you with pest protection throughout the year.
Knockout Pest Control is your local expert at knocking out silverfish and firebrats–and we keep them down for the count. Every member of our team receives over 100 hours of classroom instruction and in-the-field training so you are guaranteed a knockout punch to your pest problem every time. We serve all of Long Island, New York City, and Westchester and Rockland Counties. Call 1-800-244-PEST or 1-800-244-7378 We respond like every pest problem is an emergency with fast, 24 hour service seven days a week. We don’t have the big red boxing glove in our logo for nothing!
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Founded in 1980, IFMA is the world's largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, supporting 24,000 members in 104 countries.
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