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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, wallpaper, clothing, holiday decorations, glues, and starches, plus dry foods like cereal, pasta, flour, and pet food. They can slip into your home through cracks and hitchhike in on firewood, lumber, in boxes, and 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 to months without eating and survive temperatures from freezing up to 100 degrees F.






Where Silverfish and Firebrats Hide

Though they can survive temperature extremes, they prefer dark, warm and damp conditions. 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, it is most likely that they fell from a wall and did not come up from the drain.

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 are attracted to paper and starches. If you see irregular holes in paper and fabric, you probably have Silverfish. Sometimes you will see stains from their feces or secondary damage caused by a 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 is not easy, as special insecticides are required as well as special methods for application. You will need an expert to 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 Can Knock Out Silverfish and Firebrats

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!

Areas Served

NYC | Long Island | Bronx | Brooklyn | Manhattan | Queens | Westchester

Knockout is a proud member of the following trade organizations


Founded in 1980, IFMA is the world's largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, supporting 24,000 members in 10​4 countries.

This diverse membership participates in focused component groups equipped to address their unique situations by region (133 chapters), industry (15 councils) and areas of interest (six communities). Together they manage more than 78 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than US$526 billion in products and services.


The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International is a federation of 91 BOMA U.S. associations and 18 international affiliates. Founded in 1907, BOMA represents the owners and managers of all commercial property types including nearly 10.5 billion square feet of U.S. office space that supports 1.7 million jobs and contributes $234.9 billion to the U.S. GDP.


The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members from around the world, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. This commitment is reflected both in the continuing education of pest management professionals and the dissemination of timely information to homeowners and businesses.


The NYPMA is The Voice for pest management companies all throughout New York State. Becoming a member could be one of the best possible investments you’ll ever make for your business. Not only will you have the backing of the New York Pest Management Association behind your company, but you’ll also get listed locally within our directory. This is a big plus for consumers or businesses looking for a legitimate pest management provider they can trust.


CAI provides information, education and resources to the homeowner volunteers who govern communities and the professionals who support them. CAI members include association board members and other homeowner leaders, community managers, association management firms and other professionals who provide products and services to associations.


GreenPro, the world’s largest and most credible green certification program for pest management professionals, recognizes companies within our industry that are committed to providing commercial and residential customers with reduced risk, comprehensive, and effective pest control services.

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