What Are The Types Of Silverfish?

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You may have encountered the peculiar pests silverfish inside the pages of your old books. However, did you know that there are different types of silverfish as well as bugs like silverfish to be careful of?

Well, read on and find all you need to know are the different types of silverfish in this article!

Silverfish identification

Silverfish are interesting creatures of the order Zygentoma that can be found in most parts of the world. They prefer warm weather but can survive in colder climates, as well.

types of silverfish

When it comes to identification, these primitive insects are typically metallic silver-colored. They are wingless and can be found crawling around in dark and damp places where they can avoid predators.

Silverfish, do not carry any diseases and rarely bite people or pets; they are not particularly harmful to humans. However, they can cause some damage to property.

In addition to that, silverfish feed primarily on things containing starch or sugar. This means that they will consume materials such as flour, sugar, oats, adhesives, wallpaper paste, book bindings, clothing, dried-out beef, and sometimes even other insects.

Silverfish lay their eggs in crevices and eat the hatched larvae.

Types of silverfish

There are six different types of silverfish that have been identified and cataloged. They all have very distinct features that make them easily recognizable, even to those who are not familiar with silverfish.

That said, though silverfish come in different shapes and sizes, they all have a few things in common: They’re fast, they’re agile, and they love to eat paper.

However, knowing the different types of silverfish can help you identify a potential infestation and take the required steps for pest control.

Therefore, check out these six-different varieties:

Common silverfish

Macro photo Silverfish animal, lepisma saccharina on black background. Common house pest

The common silverfish is a small, slimy, silver-gray insect that is found in homes throughout the world. They are about 1/2 inch long and have two antennae on their head. Silverfish have a uniform body with identical segments throughout their length.

This variety of silverfish prefers to live in moist places such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. They lead a nocturnal life, being active mostly at night, and hiding in dark places throughout the day.

Silverfish are not outright harmful to humans, but they can damage fabrics and other materials such as wallpaper paste, book bindings, and clothing fibers.

Firebrat silverfish


Firebrats are one of the types of silverfish. They are dark in color, with cylindrical bodies, two long antennae on their heads, and three long tail bristles.

These critters are attracted to high temperatures, making them common in places like attics and crawlspaces. Firebrats can swarm in places where they can find cellulose bookbindings and other paper products to feed on.

Four-lined silverfish

Four-lined silverfish (Ctenolepisma lineatum) close up picture at night

This silverfish is scientifically known as Ctenolepisma quadriseriata. They are characterized by their four stripes that run the length of their body. It can be differentiated from other types of silverfish by these markings.

The four-lined silverfish is a small, slender silverfish that are relatively longer than the other types of silverfish and can measure up to three inches in length. It has a light brown or gray body with four dark lines running down its back.

This type of silverfish is common in North America and can be found in many different environments, including homes, businesses, and other structures.

Four-lined silverfish prefer flowerbeds, soil, and roof shingles for shelter, while they tend to reside in attics for indoor habitats.

Gray silverfish

The gray silverfish is a common type of silverfish.

Gray silverfish are so named because of their even-toned, gray-colored bodies. These little bugs can be found all over the world and need warm temperatures, humid weather, and cellulose as a food supply to mature.

These bugs love to live in dark, moist areas of your home like the basement, attic, and crawlspaces.

Bristletail silverfish

on a white wall crawls a brown paper fish insect

Bristletails are a type of silverfish that are distinguished by their long, whip-like antennae. These critters are typically brown or black in color and have a metallic sheen. They do not possess any wings.

In addition, bristletails can be found in many different habitats, including indoor and outdoor environments. They are attracted to moisture and prefer dark, damp areas.

Indoors, you may find them in attics, basements, and crawlspaces. Outdoors, they can be found in leaf litter, under stones and boards, and around decaying organic matter.

Furthermore, there are 24 species of bristletail silverfish in the US and about 300 to 400 species worldwide.

Jumping bristletail silverfish

Jumping Bristletails are a subspecies of bristletail silverfish. Their scientific name is Pedetontus, but they are more often known as leaping bristletails or jumping silverfish.

These insects may grow to be more than half an inch long, with a flat abdomen, and have a silver or grey tint that runs the length of their smooth bodies.

These wingless invertebrates seek cover among the debris, stones, boulders, and rotting leaves and barks and feed on the cellulose present in these decaying foliages.

Bugs like silverfish

Now that you know about the types of silverfish. Check out the bugs that closely resemble these shiny silver critters.


Larva of European earwig (Forficula auricularia) on wood.

Earwigs are tiny insects that can be located all over the world. They have brownish-red bodies resembling the Bristletail silverfish, varying in size from 5 to 25mm. They are most commonly known for their pincers or forceps, which they use to catch prey.

Earwigs can be found in many different habitats, including forests, fields, gardens, and urban areas.

They are often considered pests because they can attach themselves to furniture, boxes, and newspapers inside buildings.


Booklice and woodlice are two types of insects that are often mistaken for silverfish. They are both very small and can be hard to differentiate from each other.

However, there are a few key differences between them. Booklice can be distinguished from silverfish by their lack of scales and the presence of two long antennae.

On the other hand, woodlice also have a harder exoskeleton than booklice.


Hopefully, this article was useful in imparting knowledge on various species of silverfish, especially since understanding the different varieties of silverfish may help you recognize a possible infestation and take action to get rid of them.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.