Siverfish & Firebrats

Two of the oldest known insects to inhabit the earth, fossil records date back 300 million years. Silverfish get their name obviously because they are silver but if you observe the way they move it’s much the movement of a fish. I’m not entirely sure how Firebrats got their names but some say it’s because they like higher temperatures and are associated with fireplaces and bakeries. Firebrats are not silver in color, they are more mottled brown. Other names both are known as are, Bristletails, Three Tails and Fish Moths.

Both enjoy a wide variety of foods, paper, book bindings, wallpaper, cereals, starched fabrics, leather, fur, silk and rayon to name a few. Their mouthparts can bite small pieces and are also adapted for scraping. Each insect grows via ‘gradual metamorphosis’ which means the nymphs look pretty much like the adults. One very interesting fact is that these little guy’s can go a whole year without food if need be.
Silverfish and Firebrats are often associated with new houses, possibly because they are brought in on the materials and boxes and quickly scatter about looking for food. Silverfish are most noted in kitchens and a bathroom while Firebrats tend to go where it is hotter in your home. This said you can really find them just about anywhere as there is no obstacle they can’t climb or walk on. They prefer dark areas or places out of sight. You can find both outdoors as well but it’s usually the Firebrat who can thrive much better outside.

To control these insects in your home takes a couple of things; # 1 you should understand that they are not gregarious and it’s highly unlikely you have any major infestation on your hands. # 2 to perform a pest control job on Silverfish and Firebrats you need to apply the products where they are likely to go. In other words, a baseboard spray will do you very little good.


If you want to spray for them I suggest you use a fan spray pattern on your nozzle. A quick whisk of spray behind book cases, up high in corners or above kitchen cabinets will be a good start. Avoid treating the middle of a wall, just because you saw them there an hour ago doesn’t mean you should make a mess of your wall now. Also take care where you select to spray, remember that spray mist has got to fall somewhere and unintentionally getting spray on toddler’s toys on the floor is not good. Remember ‘a quick whisk’ in areas likely that they will hide or feed should do nicely.


I prefer dusting for chemical control of these insects. Its coverage area behind say a computer desk is better and there’s less chance of having a ‘zap’ sound that you may get when your liquid spray hits your electric wires.Yikes! You can’t dust an open corner near the ceiling however so that is one drawback. Dusting should only be done to voids or spot treatments to inaccessible areas. See How to kill bugs using dusts for more help.


This can be an excellent way to rid you of Silverfish and Firebrats. However, since they can go long periods without food they can get a bit picky and pass your bait up. Silverfish packs are very good for this and can be placed just about anywhere. I’ve also had success with Niban FG (fine granules) in places like garages or on top of the cabinets and around air handlers and heat units.

Sticky traps

Trapping for these guys would seem logical since they eat glues and that’s what a sticky trap is but in reality I just don’t get the results with them. It’s much like trapping a spider however so place the traps in places they’ll run to or across.

Just keep in mind that an occasional Silverfish or Firebrat is no big deal and the one you saw 3 days ago is very likely the one you saw this morning. Keep the sprays to the areas he’ll most likely go and you’ll have your best results in a short period of time.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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