Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help

Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation

Ask the Expert Button
Home > Bugs > Bugs of Homes and Structures > Silverfish & Firebrats

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 firebrat adult damage caused by silverfish
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. 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.

Click on images to view full-size


Identification and Control Information (each will open in a new window)



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

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.