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Written by: Stuart Steele

Many years ago, the name silverfish were used to describe what is now called fishmoths. Now, these are known as little critters that are found living in your cupboards and cause damage to clothing and various materials.

Now let’s look a little further into what they are and what they can do. To make matters simpler, further on in this article after their identification, we will refer to these insects as fishmoths.

Fishmoths & silverfish


Firstly, Silverfish got their original name due to their appearance, which is a from the insect’s silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and has fish like movements. Silverfish or fishmoths are also further identified in some countries as “bristletails” because of their three long, bristle-like or tail-like appendages on the very end of their abdomen.

Life cycle & reproduction

Fishmoths can lay up to 3 eggs per day, of which are deposited in cracks, crevices in various objects or structures such as cupboards, drawers, behind skirting boards etc. Fishmoths are known as hemimetabolis insects, which simply means that they have a life cycle of egg, nymph and adult. Their eggs hatch in a temperature range over 22 degrees Celsius, and fishmoths develop from egg to an adult in approximately 3 months, and they can live between 2-3 years. The young nymph fishmoths can undergo as many as 50 moults of their skin as they grow into adults. Adult fishmoths can be in the region of around 12-20 mm in size.

Signs of infestation

Fishmoths leave irregular feeding marks, which are usually small holes in clothing, materials and the like kept in cupboards. They also leave notches along an edge or surface etchings. There may also be stains that are a yellow type colour, traces of scales or their faeces which look like small pepper type pellets deposited on material that they cause damage to.

Preferred habitat

As these insects are nocturnal and active at night, they rarely seen during daytime hours, unless uncovered. They hide in crevices or cracks in cupboards, behind skirting’s, building cracks, under carpets that are loose-fitting, or any dark cupboard or objects like boxes or trunks that are not used or moved, which they can multiply rapidly. They can also breed in subfloors, wall voids and even ceilings. They are accidentally brought into structures in certain circumstances accidentally in cardboard boxes and paper supplies.

Diet and risk

Fish moths feed on material containing carbohydrates and are known to also be cannibalistic by nature. They climb very well, so to get into cupboards, up walls and even into ceilings is no mean feat for these insects. They can damage linen, cotton, and silk, but do not attack cotton material.

Control measure

The first thing to look at is – do you have any possible boxes or any objects that are bringing fish moths into your premises? If so, remove the objects. Proof any gaps and crevices in cupboards to prevent harbourage points.

Flick can provide a solution to treat your premises against fish moths, including applying a residual spray to all harbourage points such as skirting boards, cupboards and any other possible breeding and harbourage point that is site-specific.

Remember “One Flick and They’re Gone”

Give us a ring on 087 056 1021, drop us an email at or drop us a comment on our blog or social media platforms.

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