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Are Silverfish Bad Insect and How to Identify Them?

Silverfish are a recurring problem in the home. Everyone has seen them, but very few know their name. The name silverfish comes from the fact that the insect has a shell with a silver sheen and perhaps also from its ability to move in a sinking manner.

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What does the silverfish look like?

Silverfish are often found in businesses and private homes. They are relatively harmless, but are generally considered unclean and a nuisance. They are often found in warm and humid environments and in both new and old buildings.

Silverfish are silvery-grey in colour, with a flat body covered in fine scales. Their head is slightly wider than the rest of their body. They look like carrots. Their antennae are shorter than their body. Their tail is made up of 3 threads.


(Ctenolepisma Thysanura)



  • Silvery or grey in colour.
  • Tapered abdomen with 3 long, bristle-like appendages.
  • Wingless, with 2 slender antennae.
  • Teardrop-shaped and measured up to 10 – 12 mm in length.


  • Silverfish reproduction habits vary by species – some species laying a few eggs a day and others laying clusters of 2 – 20 eggs on a daily basis.


  • Silverfish eggs are commonly hidden in tiny cracks or crevices, making them extremely difficult to locate.
  • Silverfish prefer warm, humid places such as bathrooms and kitchens and are especially attracted to paper and damp clothing.
  • Feed on carbohydrates, especially sugars and starches. 


What is the food of silverfish?

Silverfish feed on natural elements such as flour, glue, mold, dead insects, and food scraps. Although they have a clear preference for starch-based foods, they are capable of digesting cellulose. So they will potentially damage your belongings.

Silverfish feed on natural foodstuffs, such as flour, rot, dead insects or food scraps. If they prefer starchy foods, they are capable of digesting cellulose, which can cause damage to paintings, books and wallpaper.

Food source of silverfish

Is silverfish a pest? Are they dangerous?

Silverfish is totally harmless

Silverfish do not bite and do not do anything nasty – such as spread diseases.

But, Silverfish can be a nuisance

Silverfish are not dangerous but they can be a nuisance. It's not pleasant to have silverfish roaming around your bathroom and really unhygienic when they wander into your food stores.

Silverfish become a threat when infested in large numbers. In Hong Kong, silverfish are mainly found in damp areas (75% to 85% humidity) such as bathrooms, toilets, cellars and kitchen cupboards. Even in new buildings, they are happy to take up residence there, as these still contain a lot of moisture.

Because the food source of silverfish can be found in your home, they will potentially damage cereal, books, wallpaper, insulation, tissue, newspaper (if you still read them), cardboard, and clothing.

Silverfish are most active at night and tend to hide from daylight. If their hiding place is discovered, the silverfish will immediately look for a new one.  

What causes silverfish and where does silverfish come from?

Silverfish often move into your home with food, moving boxes, furniture, old books, waste paper or old clothes. 

Because their skeletons are so fragile, they are easily crushed. The dusty substance that remains can cause a nuisance. 

Silverfish feed on fibrous materials such as books.

Silverfish in your company

In companies, you often find silverfish and paper moths in archives, where they can damage important documents. They can also be found in changing rooms, showers and toilets because of the higher humidity levels.

Silverfish can destroy not only your material possessions but also your reputation. If your silverfish problem is really serious, it can lead to loss of customers and revenue.   

Rentokil at your service

For more information on silverfish, contact one of our experts. Call us free on +852 2954 6888 or send us an e-mail.

Professional silverfish control

Rentokil's experts, all professionally trained technicians, can help you solve your silverfish problems. They know exactly the habits and life cycles of silverfish so they can combat them effectively.

Our technicians use the exact doses needed to combat silverfish, no more and no less, to ensure minimal impact on the environment. Our service is fast and efficient and guarantees safety for your family and pets. You won't be inconvenienced in any way by silverfish treatment.

Call us free at +852 2954 6888 or complete the online form to request a free quotation. 

Silverfish Control Service

Over 50 years of experience protecting Hong Kong homes and businesses from silverfish

  • Safe, effective, environmentally-friendly pest control
  • A broad range of silverfish management options to suit your home and business needs
  • With local, accredited pest controllers, we provide a rapid-response service across Hong Kong
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