Updated: May 13, 2023

Silverfish are small, wingless insects that are often found in homes and buildings. They are known for their silvery-grey color and wriggling movements, which resemble the way a fish moves in water. While silverfish may not be harmful to humans, they can be a nuisance and cause damage to books, paper, and other household items. One of the key factors in controlling silverfish infestations is understanding what they eat. In this article, we will explore the diet of silverfish.

Overview of Silverfish Diet

Silverfish are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They are not picky eaters and will consume a wide variety of food sources. However, there are certain foods that are more attractive to silverfish than others.

Plant-Based Foods

Silverfish are known to feed on a variety of plant-based foods. They are particularly attracted to starchy items such as cereal grains, flour, and pasta. They may also consume plant-based materials such as wallpaper paste, book bindings, and cardboard boxes.

One of the reasons why silverfish are attracted to starch is because it contains carbohydrates that provide energy. However, silverfish do not have the ability to digest cellulose, which is a component of plant cell walls. This means that they cannot digest plant-based materials such as wood or leaves.

Animal-Based Foods

Silverfish also consume animal-based foods such as dead insects and spiders. They may also feed on skin flakes and hair from pets or humans. In addition, silverfish are known to eat synthetic fabrics such as nylon and rayon.

One of the reasons why silverfish are attracted to synthetic fabrics is because they contain chemicals that mimic pheromones produced by other insects. This can confuse male silverfish and cause them to engage in mating behavior with synthetic materials.

Moisture and Temperature

In addition to food, silverfish also require a certain level of moisture and temperature to survive. They prefer environments that are humid and warm, with temperatures between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Silverfish are often found in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms because these areas provide the moisture and warmth they need. They may also be found in basements and attics where humidity levels are high.

Preventing Silverfish Infestations

The best way to prevent silverfish infestations is to eliminate their food sources. This can be done by storing food items in airtight containers and keeping the kitchen and pantry clean. It is also important to seal any cracks or crevices in walls or floors where silverfish may enter.

In addition, reducing humidity levels in the home can help deter silverfish. This can be done by using a dehumidifier or fixing any leaks or water damage. Keeping the home clean and free of clutter can also help prevent silverfish infestations.


Silverfish are omnivorous insects that feed on both plant-based and animal-based foods. They are attracted to starchy items such as cereal grains and synthetic fabrics that contain chemicals similar to insect pheromones. In addition to food, silverfish require moisture and warmth to survive. By understanding their diet and environmental needs, homeowners can take steps to prevent silverfish infestations and protect their belongings.