Silverfish—Lepisma saccharina & Firebrat—Thermobia domestica

Also called bristletails because of the three long tail-like appendages at the hind end. They live normally outdoors under rocks, bark and leaf mold, but can be a nuisance when they enter homes. Silverfish are most likely found in moist areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements. Removing sources of dampness may eliminate the problem. Firebrats live in warmer, humid places such as attics in the summer and near ovens, fireplaces and central heating pipes in winter. They are harmless to humans and pets but can damage papers, wallpaper, books and sometimes clothing. Both insects are nocturnal, and move quickly when caught in the light.

silverfish adult
Silverfish adults are slender, wingless insects, about 1/2 inch long, with silvery-metallic scales covering their body and antennae as long as their body.

firebrat adult
Firebrats adults are slender, wingless insects, about 1/2 inch long, with tufts of brown scales which give a mottled appearance and antennae which are longer than their body.

damage caused by silverfish
Damage caused by silverfish.

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Identification and Control Information

[Photos, left to right: Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension; Clemson University—USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,]