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Do Silverfish Eat Clothes?

By Linsey Duncan

Silverfish don’t directly eat clothing--they’re more interested in what’s in the fabric than the fabric itself. Nevertheless, they can do real damage to what’s in your closet.

Identification

A silverfish, sometimes called a bristletail, is a flat, skinny, wingless insect with long antennae and three long tails out its backside.

Life Cycle

Silverfish are long-lived insects and slow breeders, but a female can have up to 100 offspring before she dies. Eggs hatch in as little as three weeks, and the juveniles mature by six weeks.

Habitat

Silverfish live in wet places and can often be found in bathtubs, book and closet shelves, as well as window frames.

Damage

Silverfish eat the starch in clothing, especially in cotton, linen, rayon or wool. The damage usually appears as a stain.

Prevention/Solution

Store clothing and books in dry places, and use mothballs or pest strips in closets. Keep carpets and walls clean, and reduce your home’s humidity.

Pest Control

If you have a serious infestation, there are insecticides made specifically for silverfish (see Resources).

About the Author

Linsey Duncan is a freelance writer, currently working toward a master's degree in library and information science at San Jose State University. She has written ads, religious essays, travel guides and poetry for online publication and loves having variety in her work.