Silver fish on a wall
Silverfish on a wall

Silverfish and firebrats are two particular pests that can often get confused with one another. Regardless of which of these uninvited pests are infesting your home, the team here at My Pest Pros can provide silverfish control or firebrat control for your home in Northern Virginia or Maryland.

Silverfish vs. Firebrats Identification

Identifying and understanding the pests you are dealing with is critical to eliminate silverfish and eliminate firebrats for good. While neither silverfish nor firebrats pose a danger, they are still a nuisance and are often mistaken for one another. Both are wingless and carrot shaped but differ in color, with silverfish being more silver and firebrats being brownish.

Firebrat (Thermobia domestica), a species of silverfish

Silverfish and Firebrats 101

You’ve probably assumed that silverfish get their name because of their metallic, shiny appearance, and you would be correct. They also move like fish with their long, bristle-like tails.

Silverfish are found throughout the United States and are usually seen in humid, warm areas of the home, such as the basement, attic, or bathroom. They aren’t always willing to show themselves, so you may not be aware of any damage they are causing.

Firebrats look a lot like silverfish, with bodies that taper at the ends and are covered by small scales. They also prefer humidity and higher temperatures and are often found in kitchens or near furnaces in the basement.

Thankfully when you look at silverfish Vs. firebrats, both are relatively harmless and cause only minor damage.


As noted above, the silverfish and the firebrat look very similar, but there are some differences to look out for so you can tell them apart.


While silverfish have no wings, they can make up for them with the speed they run. They are fast!

Adults are between 12-19 mm, not including that whiplike tail.

Their scaly body is shaped like teardrop or carrot and are flattened. Their silvery appearance and the fish-like tail are what give them their name.

Silverfish also sport antennas and several separated eyes.


Firebrats are also referred to as “bristletails” as they have prong-like bristles on their bellies. They are about the same size as silverfish, with adults being about 12mm in length, not including their tails.

Their bodies are flat with scaled segments. While silverfish are metallic in color, firebrats are brown or dark grey and do not have a shiny appearance, and they may even appear mottled or spotted.

General Habits

Let’s take a look at some of the general habits regarding Silverfish vs. Firebrats.


While these fast little critters like a humid environment, they can survive without water for weeks. Because they are nocturnal, you may not see them much during the day as they like to hide in tight cracks or crevices in your home.

Other than basements, attics, and bathrooms, you can also find them in your living room, bedroom, and even the garage.

They are big fans of infesting libraries or offices, as they are easily brought into places via cartons of paper or books. After roaming around for food, they usually stay put once they find it.

They favor glue, paper, clothing, and food such as flour and oats. However, one of their favorite meals is the dead bodies of their friends!


As noted earlier, firebrats prefer high temperatures, which is why they are often found near boilers and hot water heaters. They will actually use your pipes to travel to the rooms of your house.

Once they have set up shop, they do so in bookcases, behind baseboards, or in closets. Like their counterpart, they are nocturnal and quick on their feet, so you are unlikely to find them during the day.

When it comes to food, they love to eat fabrics, linens, beef extract, and, you guessed it, their dead friends.

Signs of an Infestation

The sooner we can identify where these critters have been, the sooner we can call in some silverfish control and firebrat control.


Signs of infestation are holes in fabrics and other materials, along with feces stains. You may also notice silverfish in your ceiling soffits or dropping down from light fixtures in the ceiling.


Firebrat infestation presents much like the silverfish, with yellow stains on paper, dropping, and shed scales in your food.

How Do I Get Rid of Silverfish and Firebrats?

Some things you can do to get rid of  silverfish or firebrat problems are as follows:

  • Keep a dehumidifier in your home
  • Repair leaky pipes and drains
  • Repair moldy or wet wood
  • Keep your basement and attic free of books and magazines
  • Keep flour and sugar in tight containers

However, if you have a true infestation, the best thing to do is to call a pest control professional. They will come in and properly inspect your home and perform the right treatment to rid you of these pests once and for all.

My Pest Pros is a top-rated pest control company that services Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Our trained pest technicians know how to identify the sources of silverfish or firebrat problems and how to treat them. If you are in these areas and need a good exterminator, contact My Pest Pros or call us at 703-665-4455 to schedule services today.