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6 Silverfish Infestation Signs to Look Out For

The last thing you want to do is go in search of silverfish infestation signs yet it’s the first step to solving a rampant infestation. After all, you can’t solve what you can’t see.

Similarly, the problem isn’t going to go away without your input. The longer something goes unnoticed, the worse it’ll get, making it that much more difficult to repair when the time finally comes.

6 Telltale Silverfish Infestation Signs

Silverfish infestations are no different from any other pest problem in this regard. The sooner you identify it, the sooner you can get to work kicking the leggy squatters out of your home.

Let’s take a look at some clear signs of a silverfish infestation…

You actually see a silverfish

Yes, yes, I know this might seem like the most painfully obvious point to make and you’re right, it is. But many homeowners are prone to anxiety around pests finding their way into the home, convincing themselves that they have a bug problem without actually ever spotting the creature in question.

silverfish infestation signs

So, let’s be clear – one of, if not the the major sign that your home may have a silverfish problem is if you actually see one. Now, this can swing both ways: spotting one straggler in your sink doesn’t necessarily mean your house is crawling, but similarly, you have to wonder if it is just a straggler…especially given the quick, prolific and frequent birth rates of silverfish.

Silverfish droppings

The quintessential clue that there’s something nefarious living nearby; everything from rodents to dinosaurs (praise be to Jeff Goldblum) have been identified by their droppings and silverfish are no different.

Handily, the droppings of silverfish are quite characteristic and exclusive to the bugs themselves. You want to be looking out for any fecal matter that resembles small pepper corns or pellets – black and spherical. Although it’s a pretty disgusting thing to devote your time to, it is important that you’re correctly identifying which type of creature the deposits belong to, seeing as certain extermination tactics which work for silverfish won’t work for other pests.

Usually droppings are found in the common places like food bags, boxes and so forth, which can make it a relatively simple process to gauge whether you have an infestation or not, but some homeowners have also discovered traces of the poop in their books and papers, cunningly hidden in the middle.

Make sure you familiarize yourself with its appearance and don’t just swipe any droppings to the side, mistaking them for general dust or grime.

Silverfish damage

silverfish infestation signs

The biggest tell-tale sign of a hidden silverfish infestation is damage to your home and possessions. You’ll usually find silverfish “evidence” like holes in things such as wallpaper, books, papers and cardboard storage boxes. For the most part, this is due to the pest’s hunger for weird things such as adhesives and glues which are used in binding books and putting up wallpaper.

If your problem is particularly bad, or the nests happen to be located elsewhere in the home, you may notice signs of damage or feeding on some of your laundry or linen (they tend to focus on lighter/finer materials, however, so if you’re noticing heavy clothing with damage then you might have a different problem on your hands).

Given that their diet also incorporates lots of starchy foods, you may notice some damage to boxes or storage containers with oats, cereals, high-sugar foods and maybe baking ingredients (such as flour), too. It’s worth keeping in mind that if you tend to bulk buy these sorts of foods then store them for a later date, that the longer they’re left unattended the more likely it is that silverfish will find them.

Remember that they hate noise and fuss, so something as simple as a regular check and rearrangement of your pantry could be enough to keep things fresh and safe. And of course, storing food in airtight, sealed containers prevents silverfish from getting in altogether!

Yellow stains

Similar to the droppings, another sure-fire sign that you have some regular silverfish activity is yellow staining. This will show up, basically, in any location that the silverfish has been frolicking, although it doesn’t necessarily indicate urination.

If you’re spotting inexplicable yellow spots on your clothing, in your books and papers or even around your wallpaper then it’s probably time to take some action against the hidden silverfish threat.

Naturally, this indicator can be a little more difficult to pick up on, seeing as they like to keep to themselves and live in very dark and moist areas of your home that you’re unlikely to investigate too often. A cursory check around some of your house’s more cramped and dingy areas should be enough to tell for certain, though.

Shed skin

Throughout their lifecycle, silverfish shed their skin; especially throughout adolescence and the ‘nymph’ stage of their life. Given their small size and stature (the average silverfish doesn’t grow beyond one inch in length) these small husks and shells can go unnoticed for a long time, or simply get caught up in the general floor detritus of your kitchen and bathroom.

Once again, though, it really only takes the discipline and inclination to actually look for them in the first place; it’s most likely that you’ll discover shed skin in the bathroom, kitchen or basement of your home, seeing as they’re likely to do so closer to their own homes, rather than when exploring or hunting for food.

Cracks and crevices

As we all know by this point in our silverfish education, they love nothing more than to squeeze into tiny gaps and crevices all around the home – many of which you might not even be able to spot with the naked eye.

Now, silverfish aren’t really renowned for their burrowing or home renovation skills; tending, instead to simply hunt around for a nice gap to settle down and lay their eggs and shed their skin in. That being said, a clear sign that there’s some activity in your house is an increase in gaps, holes or spaces in your plaster, skirting boards, window sills and so forth.

The more the silverfish use these spaces as a thoroughfare to go about their business, the more they wear down the materials and expose the space that little bit more. Keep in mind, though, that these gaps are not a surefire sign of a silverfish infestation.

But with any luck, you’ll now have a definitive answer to the mystery of your home. If any or all of the symptoms above are present in your house, then it’s highly likely that you’ve got yourself a silverfish infestation – time to bounce over to our article on how to kill silverfish and choose your weapon!

2 thoughts on “6 Silverfish Infestation Signs to Look Out For”

  1. I just noticed that some of the old books that were stored in a cabinet had small holes in them so I was wondering if pests were feeding on them. I’m glad you mentioned that a silverfish infestation is usually characterized by small holes in wallpaper, books, and cardboard boxes. If ever I do have an infestation, I’m worried that they might spread to the other parts of the house so I think I should call for a pest extermination service as soon as possible to avoid this.


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