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Silverfish are perhaps the most common pest in the Netherlands. They are also wrongly called paper fish or oven fish and belong to the family of fringe tails. There are about 370 different species, of which only a few occur in the Netherlands. Silverfish are not dangerous and pose no immediate health risk. The name silverfish comes from its silvery color. This color comes from its shields and has a silvery appearance. That it is called a little fish has to do with the way it moves around. This resembles the movement of a fish. Hence the name silver fish. Silverfish are often found in damp areas such as kitchens or bathrooms. They feed there on organic material left behind by humans. They usually do not grow much bigger than one centimeter. Usually you find silverfish in the morning in the sink or bath. The reason has to do with the way the silverfish moves around. Due to a lack of grip it sometimes slips and ends up in these places.

Other Species of Silverfish

More than 370 different species of fringefish are known worldwide. In the Netherlands we mainly encounter the silverfish, paperfish and ovenfish.


Paperfish or bookfish are mostly found in dry environments. Not for nothing are they called paperfish since they are often found around old books and paper. They are extremely similar to their counterparts but feed on different material. Paperfish eat the organic fibers of paper and wood.


In contrast to the moist environment of the silverfish and the dry environment of the paperfish, the ovenfish tends to occur in warmer environments. Therefore, in the past, bakeries were not unfamiliar places for this species. Nowadays, we see ovenfish much less in the Netherlands.

Habitat of a Silverfish

As far as we know, silverfish are found all over the world. Depending on the environment, some species thrive better than others. Usually, they are seen by humans in places like the bathroom and kitchen. Silverfish are naturally fond of dark places and usually hide in cracks and holes. If a place is exposed, there is a good chance that the silverfish will seek another habitat.

Silverfish in the Netherlands

Silverfish are very common in the Netherlands. Although the pest usually does not cause direct harm to humans or their environment, it is considered unhygienic. Keeping your environment clean and dry already works in most cases. If you do have silverfish in a damp environment, it may indicate leakage or other moisture problems.

Outward characteristics of a silverfish

Besides the fact that a silverfish moves around like a fish and is silver colored, there are several other characteristics that can be recognized by.


At first glance, it is not clear where the head of a silverfish is located. The head of a silverfish runs wide and has two large antennae.

Breast piece

Looking at a silverfish, it is not immediately obvious that it has a thorax. Rather, it looks more like one long animal. Nevertheless, a silverfish also has a small torso containing the most important organs. Silverfish are not otherwise very strong and are easily flattened with a finger.

Back body

The abdomen has a total of three sprites whose function is somewhat unclear in the literature. The three sprites consist of two appendages (cerci) and a caudal filament.


Silverfish like dark surroundings and are therefore mostly active at night. During the day they are less active and hide in small cracks and holes. Silverfish are mostly found in damp locations such as crawlspaces,  basements, showers, toilets, kitchens bathrooms. Newly built homes are also regularly affected by these pests because the walls and wood of a new home are still damp.

What does a silverfish eat?

Silverfish feast on organic material in the form of food scraps, sugars and other types of carbohydrates such as potato. Basically, they clean up what we as humans leave behind in a kitchen. If you do not seal certain products properly, then there is a real chance that the silverfish will gnaw on them at night. However, the animal is so small and eats so little that few people are bothered by it.

Enemies of a silverfish

Silverfish are mostly found only in homes. Therefore, the enemies of a silverfish should also be sought in the home. It is well known that mice and spiders eat silverfish. But humans are also one of its enemies. Catching a silverfish with a silverfish trap is not the most effective way to get rid of these pests. It is better to keep the room they are in well ventilated and dry.

Breeding and Lifespan

Silverfish can live up to 8 years which is relatively old for an insect. They reproduce by laying eggs. Females lay up to 100 eggs in their entire lives which again is relatively few for insects.

Nuisance & diseases

As far as we know, no diseases are transmitted by silverfish. However, they are sometimes a nuisance. Although silverfish do little damage and never hurt people, it is the startle reaction in particular that causes a negative reaction. After all, a critter in the kitchen is unhygienic. This while you will (almost) never encounter silverfish in large numbers.

Silverfish in bed?

Silverfish in bed are less common, again there may be another problem. It may be that the silverfish is actually a bedbug and so people are not quite sure what a silverfish looks like. Or again, you may be dealing with a moisture problem. In that case, properly ventilating a mattress is the solution.

What to do against silverfish?

If you want to fight silverfish, then just using pesticides is not enough. Often the presence of these pests indicates other problems mainly related to moisture. Therefore, to prevent silverfish, ventilation is recommended. This ensures that the humidity of a room goes down which makes the pests feel less comfortable.

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