Are Silverfish Harmful, Dangerous, Poisonous or Bad?

Many people ask are silverfish harmful to human beings or animals, especially pets?

Well, here I put to rest the many questions on the extent to which silverfish can be dangerous to the health of not only humans beings but also the pets and other animals found within our homes.

You will be surprised to learn that despite their scary look, silverfish are generally ‘safe’ creatures to hang around.

Silverfish Damage

These insects are not dangerous but can cause some damage to your house. It is important to learn about these damages because they can help in understanding possible infestations.

It may also help you understand how to deal with a potential infestation if it happens to your home and living areas.

Most often, we come across stories that silverfish can damage your home. However, it is not very clear on specific things they damage within your home and living areas.

Silverfish Harmful

On whether or not silverfish are harmful, yes these insects are fairly harmful; they can cause damages to the following items within your home:

  • Foods – cereals, grains, and flour
  • Paper products – books, glues, and boxes
  • Fabrics – linen and cotton clothing are the most vulnerable fabrics
  • Surprisingly, they can also eat paper money

It is important to stress that silverfish bugs are not dangerous to humans or animals alike. Apart from eating papers, fabrics, and starchy foods such as grains and flour, these creatures do not bite humans and animals.

Neither do they cause or transmit diseases and will never bring diseases into your house. Silverfish bugs are also not poisonous but can contaminate foods through excrement and bacteria contamination.

What do silverfish do?

Silverfish bugs are known to cause some damage in your home. There is strong evidence of punched irregular holes on fabrics and papers within homes infested with silverfish bugs.

If your house has been infested with these filthy insects, you have probably come across scratches and holes in your old photographs placed around the wall.

You probably must have also observed some holes in pages of your books on shelves and some books with lost spines.

You may also have noted some holes in wallpapers. Very well, this is silverfish at work as they love feasting on these items in your house.

Despite damaging fabrics, papers, and starchy food products, silverfish leave behind some yellowish stains on surfaces. These kinds of damage are typical to silverfish bugs.

Precisely they do:

  • Damage paper products- wallpapers, photographs, and papers
  • Damage fabrics- Clothes, carpets, sofas, and curtains
  • Contaminate foods- flour, cereals, and grains

What do silverfish eat?

Basically, I would say that silverfish eat a little bit of anything to everything. However, silverfish love eating starchy carbohydrates or starchy foods.

The following questions will help you understand some items believed to be eaten by silverfish bugs in your house and living areas. This is essential because it can help you to counter their infestation.

Do silverfish eat papers?

Yes, silverfish eat papers, and the more the glazers on the paper the better for them. Glazer in this case refers to the binding glue used in books and wallpapers.

They chew and leave behind holes in wallpapers to the point of falling. By eating glues in book bindings, they loosen book spines, and in the process destroy books.

Newspapers, cardboard, cellophane, and tissues are also not spared by these insects.

Do silverfish eat clothes?

Even though it looks strange to imagine that silverfish prays on clothes among other fabrics, but truly they do. However, they are also choosy as they don’t prey on all types of clothes.

Although they prey on cotton, linen, and artificial silk materials, fortunately, they do not feast on true silk and wool materials. This is according to Arnold Mallis, the author of the pest control handbook.

Linen is their preferred material, but may also eat rayon materials beneath the carpets.

While the idea of feasting on clothes is peculiar, it is actually true. Always look out for holes and erratic tears in your clothes if suspect silverfish infestation in your house.

Do silverfish prey on other bugs?

No, silverfish do not prey on other bugs. Although cannibalistic, silverfish do not prey on other insects or bugs, but rather consume dead and injured bodies of insects.

They also feast on shed skins left behind dandruff and discarded human hair.

Are Silverfish Harmful to Humans?

You probably could be wondering whether silverfish bugs are dangerous to humans. Rest assured that you will not be harmed by these insects.

They do not cause nor transmit any disease to humans and animals. Apart from the damage they cause on household items as stated earlier, Silverfish are generally harmless insofar as human health is concerned.

Are Silverfish Dangerous to Babies?

No, silverfish bugs are not harmful to babies. They do not transmit nor spread any disease to humans, and that includes babies.

However, babies may be allergic to their specks of dust – which they leave behind as they molt.

Since there is really no reason to worry for your baby, you need to be wary of dust left behind by these insects may cause allergy to the baby.

Are Silverfish Poisonous?

There is a concern for many people on whether or not silverfish bugs are poisonous. These insects are not poisonous and so far there is no scientific evidence to the contrary.

However, several people are allergic to silverfish skins/dust which they leave behind as they molt. These insects discard dust as they move around your house.

Unlike all other insects that molt in early life, silverfish molts throughout their adulthood. According to scientific evidence, these insects pose risks to people with asthma and respiratory disorders.

However, further tests are needed to determine how exactly these dust particles left behind by silverfish affects persons with asthma.

Are Silverfish Bad for Your Home?

Yes, silverfish are bad for your house because they are a nuisance. Naturally, people dislike insects around and will always want to get rid of insets from their homes.

Besides, nobody can be pleased to find stains on the surface and wallpapers. Either will you love seeing torn wallpapers and sofas or even contaminated foods?

These are some of the reasons why silverfish bugs are bad for your home. And this why people take action to remove these bugs from their homes.

Different approaches can be used, but before opting for harmful pesticides, it is advisable to try natural approaches for killing and preventing silverfish infestation.

Causes of Silverfish in Homes

Although they can live in any environment, they are likely to invade your house if you provide ideal conditions for them to thrive.

These little creatures require food and water for their survival. Certainly, if food particles and water are left to stand within your home, they are likely to cause silverfish invasion.

Be sure to check Silverfish home infestation signs and be informed of how to know if you are a host to these silver bugs.

Silverfish Books – Do Silverfish Destroy Books?

Yes, silverfish bugs destroy books by feeding on paper materials. They also love eating bookbinding glue thus loosening spines. Please note that books with glues are the most precious and tasteful to silverfish.

They chew pages in the books leaving irregular holes on the surface and along the edges of books. Therefore, if you notice damages on the books, this could be a sign of silverfish infestation.

Silverfish Money – Do Silverfish Eat Money?

Yes, silverfish love starchy materials and would definitely feed on paper money. Linen and cotton are the main raw materials used to make paper money.

Please note that silverfish pray on cotton and linen materials. Therefore, save your paper money from silverfish before they are eaten.

FAQs on Silverfish Harm and Dangers

Following many questions in my email concerning silverfish harm, I introduced this section to clearly address the many but similar inquiries.

The common questions many readers ask are:

Are silverfish bites painful?

Silverfish do not bite humans or animals. Consequently, there is no way the bites can be painful or not. However, these insects bite papers, clothes, and groceries in your house.

How big do silverfish get?

Silverfish are tiny creatures averaging 1/2 – 1 inch in length. This size depends on the type of species. Note that these insects can also flatten their bodies to fit into small crevices and cracks to avoid coming in contact with people.

Are silverfish dangerous to dogs?

No, as stated earlier, silverfish are not dangerous to dogs, neither are they harmful to humans. There is no need to worry about your dogs even if your house is infested with silverfish.

Are silverfish dangerous to pets?

Some people are worried that silverfish can harm their pets. However, silverfish bugs are not dangerous to pets in your home.

Even though cannibalistic, these insects do not bite pets. No need to be wary of pets because they are not in any danger of silverfish.

Do silverfish carry diseases?

No, unlike cockroaches which carry and spread diseases, silverfish will never bring any diseases into your home.

However, they can contaminate your food and pantry with bacteria when they come in contact with thrash within your home. Such cases are however rare to come by.

Are silverfish safe or toxic to eat?

Well, I don’t understand why this question came up but will answer it anyway. Silverfish are safe to eat mainly because there is no evidence that they contain poisonous substances.

Eating insects is not a new thing, and I will advocate for silverfish given their soaring numbers. Anyway, though, they are pretty small in size to warrant the efforts.



  • 1: Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina): An Overview and their Management
  • 2: Long-Tailed Silverfish (Ctenolepisma longicaudata) Control: Bait Choice Based on Primary and Secondary Poisoning

READ MORE: Silverfish bite symptoms and pictures.

Featured image credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, | slight edits were applied | licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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