What Attracts Silverfish? (Facts You Need to Know)

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Silverfish are annoying, destructive, and swift scavengers. They are prehistoric and have developed the ability to withstand a variety of commonly used insecticides.

In this article, you’ll get to understand more about these wingless insects, particularly factors that attract silverfish to your home, like:

  • Moisture
  • Protein and carbohydrates
  • Warm and dark spaces
  • Leaky pipes
  • Yard waste, trees, and bushes

Although there exists a spectrum of solutions that can effectively obliterate these nasty invaders, prevention is the best option.

Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

Table of Contents

    Factors that Cause Silverfish Infestation

    Silverfish love damp areas and dark hiding places, and they are able to creep through even the tiniest crevices, making them one of the most irritating of household pests. Taking the infestation head-on with dehumidifiers, boric acid, diatomaceous earth, vacuum cleaners, and silverfish traps is not enough to completely solve the problem.

    Total eradication of silverfish requires prevention of future infestations which can only be done by acquiring a much deeper understanding of the factors that attract silverfish into someone’s peaceful home.

    The following video will tell you more about silverfish.


    Like in most other household insects that we commonly encounter, silverfish thrive in humid environments.

    With ample amounts of moisture, a couple of six legged insects can easily turn into an army of voracious scavengers in a matter of weeks.

    According to entomologists, silverfish require around 75% relative humidity and higher for them to survive. However, this doesn’t mean that the silverfish can’t move across areas that are less damp.

    Unfortunately for us, our home is a huge factory of moisture.

    Our day to day activities like cooking and washing laundry yield a tremendous amount of moisture every single day which is distributed throughout our entire property. This results in high humidity up to within the walls of your house.

    Areas of your house that commonly have highest amounts of moisture include kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, garages, and bathrooms. In the face of silverfish infestation, the presence and activity of these wingless scavengers are more concentrated in the aforementioned areas of your home.

    Simply use our Trusted Exterminator Search Tool to find a pest control company to help you eliminate silverfish.

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    Protein and Carbohydrates

    Insects need a certain amount of nutrients everyday to survive. Silverfish eat a great deal of carbohydrates and protein in order to survive.

    Luckily for the silverfish, our homes are full of food sources that are rich in protein and carbohydrates.

    These wingless scavengers satisfy their protein cravings from fallen hair, dead skin cells, and dead insects that are typically scattered on the floor.

    Moreover, these nuisance pests are also known to resort on cannibalism wherein they eat their own kind especially those that are in the middle of the molting process.

    On the other hand, the silverfish’s thirst for carbohydrates is not a problem once the insect has infiltrated someone’s home.

    Kitchens typically become the insect’s treasure chest filled with starchy foods like cornmeal, flour, pastries, cereals, oats, sugar, pasta noodles, and pretzels among many others.

    The silverfish can easily punch holes through boxes which is why it is important to secure food in sealed plastic or glass containers. Silverfish eat through bookbinding glue and wallpaper paste. These scavengers are also experts in slicing through various types of textile.

    Silverfish love damp areas and dark hiding places, and they are able to creep through even the tiniest crevices, making them one of the most irritating of household pests.

    Taking the infestation head-on with dehumidifiers, boric acid, diatomaceous earth, vacuum cleaners, and silverfish traps is not enough to completely solve the problem.

    Find A Local Exterminator

    Warm and Dark Spaces

    Silverfish are equipped with compound eyes that are photosensitive.

    This makes the insect nocturnal and quite active in scavenging food in the wee hours of the night when everyone else at home is fast asleep.

    Apart from their agility and high tolerance to a variety of chemical insecticides, silverfish are practically defenseless in the face of a predator.

    And this is also one of the reasons why these wingless insects prefer lurking in dark spaces. This could be your attic, basement, or a guest room that hasn’t been used for quite a while.

    Silverfish are nocturnal and use the cover of darkness to evade potential predators. And through the use of their antennae, these insects are able to virtually scale the entire room from the ground up as well as read other important environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.

    Silverfish population thrive in areas with high temperature reaching to around  22 to 27 degrees Celsius.

    Their preference to warm surroundings is directly connected with how their body responds to certain changes in their habitat. Silverfish will hatch earlier (20 days) under warmer surroundings compared to the 40 day incubation period in cooler conditions (22 degrees Celsius or less).

    Leaky Pipes and Obstructed Gutters

    A household is not fully functional without the pipes that run through various sections of its structure. On the other hand, the gutter system of a property helps move rain water away from the structure immediately and efficiently.

    Unfortunately, leaky pipes and obstructed gutters appear inevitably and result to more complex structural issues when not addressed immediately.

    Prolonged presence of water in places where they shouldn’t exist will eventually result to damp environments which can and will compromise structural integrity. Rotten wood structures provide a perfect environment for the silverfish and make it a whole lot easier for other insect pests to infiltrate the house.

    Yard Waste

    The yard, whether it’s big or small, or in the front or back, one has become a popular home staple among many American families.

    It offers a spacious platform for fun, fitness, and recreation among families and their friends. More importantly, the yard helps promote a healthy and stress-free life.

    But just like your house, your yard also needs to be maintained. Otherwise, it will only do more harm than good.

    Managing leaves and yard trimmings can be a pretty daunting task. However, it is essential in order to maintain a healthy yard.

    Fallen leaves, dead branches, and grass clippings are the perfect recipe for silverfish infestation. Piles of these yard wastes produce moist soil underneath and are an open invitation for a spectrum of insects that literally live on moisture and rotten organic matter.

    Trees and Bushes

    It’s nice to have the luxury of a natural shade right in your own backyard that you can count on during scorching hot days. You can build a tree swing underneath it or simply play catch with your children without getting exposed directly to the sun.

    But in the rainy season, these organic canopies prevent shaded ground from totally drying up and in turn, attract silverfish along with a number of other moisture-loving insects.

    Read More: Click here to learn about other invasive pests and how to control them.

    The video below will tell you more about how to get rid of silverfish for good.

    Keep Silverfish Away for Good

    Armed with this knowledge about what attracts silverfish to your home and yard, you’re much more likely to keep these pests away.

    However, if you’re dealing with a silverfish infestation, there are a handful of easy, straightforward methods to get rid of silverfish.

    Read more: How to keep silverfish away with these expert ideas

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