Silverfish vs Springtail – Key Differences

If you’ve got pests in your home, it is often challenging to take the time to sit back and identify them before you start waging war on them.

Nobody wants their home invaded by insects, and you might be wondering if it even matters what kind of insect it is. However, knowing what sort of insect you’re dealing with makes pest control easier.

There are some big differences between springtails and silverfish, including their size, their food preferences, and their behavior.

However, they are similar in some ways, such as their love for damp spots and the fact that they are harmless to humans.

We’re going to look at:

  • What the differences between springtails and silverfish are
  • Which kind of pest you are most likely to see in your home
  • Which is the worst visitor to find in your house
  • Where you will see them
  • What they eat/what attracts them
  • How to deter them

What Are The Major Differences Between Silverfish And Springtails?

So, how do these two insects differ from each other? Let’s find out!

Firstly, silverfish are usually significantly larger than springtails. They can grow up to 2.5 cm long, although many are smaller than this. By contrast, springtails usually only reach about 2 mm long, so they are only about a tenth of the size of a silverfish.

Springtails are not actually insects, either, although silverfish are. Springtails do not have wings, and their bodies are soft. Furthermore, their method of getting around – due to the lack of wings – is extraordinary.

A springtail has a sort of “spring” beneath its body, hence the name.

When one wants to move around, it strikes this spring against the ground with enough force to catapult itself through the air at high speed.

Silverfish, by contrast, get around by crawling on their many legs. They can also move very quickly, and they are easily frightened. They will vanish into cracks and crevices as soon as you disturb them.

Springtails may not actively hide from humans because they are operating on such a different scale that they may not “see” us as a threat if they notice us at all.

All in all, they are quite different creatures, and silverfish are much larger. They move in different ways, but they do favor some similar environments to each other.

Are You More Likely To See Silverfish Or Springtails In Your House?

You may occasionally see silverfish, but you are very unlikely to see springtails. This isn’t because they are absent from your home, but simply because they are so much smaller.

To see a springtail, you would need to have excellent vision, or use a magnifying glass or microscope. In general, they just look like flecks of dust.

That said, springtails are probably more likely to be in your home because they are found pretty much everywhere.

Are Silverfish Or Springtails Worse?

Neither silverfish nor springtails are very threatening to you, your pets, your family, or your home. However, of the two, silverfish may be more problematic.

Although silverfish are unlikely to do major damage unless the infestation gets out of hand, they do eat things like paper.

Getting silverfish in or near your bookcase could be a disaster! It is important to be aware of silverfish if they are in your home, and to make efforts to protect books, clothes, and any food from them.

Springtails are unlikely to be noticeable unless they start to become very numerous. On the whole, you won’t notice even quite a few springtails if they share your home with you.

However, if the conditions are perfect for them, you might find you end up with an infestation. You are likely to notice if this happens because you will probably start to find springtails floating in any water that has been left out. A really big infestation might prove visible.

As long as numbers are low, you don’t really need to worry about either springtails or silverfish, but if you have silverfish in your home, you need to move all edibles out of their reach, or you may find that your books and clothes get ruined.

Where Do They Live?

Both of these creatures prefer moist spaces, and you will often find them in the bathroom or around any patches of wall that have got damp. Indeed, the presence of silverfish or springtails might alert you to dampness issues in your home.

On the whole, springtails like leaf litter, but in your home, both they and silverfish will happily live under plant pots, in kitchens, in basements, in laundry rooms, or in bathrooms.

They need a supply of freshwater, so you will usually find them somewhere that is damp at least some of the time.

Silverfish also like to have crevices that they can hide in, which means they will often be hiding behind tiles. If they can get behind wallpaper, this will make them very happy, as they will also eat the wallpaper, so they’ll have a handy source of food.

One of the best ways to reduce the risk of getting springtails or silverfish in your home is to reduce the sources of dampness. Install dehumidifiers, dry the walls after a shower, and fix any leaking or dripping taps to deter these creatures from inhabiting your home.

What Attracts Them?

So, apart from dampness, what attracts these creatures to live with you?

The usual motivations are either food or escape from unsuitable conditions outdoors. We will cover food first.

Food can mean almost anything to a silverfish.

These insects eat any food item that is high in starch or sugar, meaning that potatoes, pasta, rice, oats, etc., are popular foods for them. They will also eat photographs, any paper that they find (books, notepads), fabric, and even things like glue.

This appetite is one of the things that makes silverfish tricky to deal with.

By contrast, springtails are easier, because they do not have such destructive or wide-ranging tastes. Springtails generally just eat plants and any other tiny or deceased insects that they find.

This is partly why they are usually keen to live under or near pot plants; these will provide them with food, and they are also more likely to attract other insects, which the springtail can then eat as well.

Secondly, these pests might enter your home because the conditions outside are not very favorable to them. That usually means either drought or flooding. While both species like dampness, they will drown in a lot of water, so heavy rainfalls can drive them inside.

Equally, if it is very hot and dry outside, they will not be able to find anything to drink, and may therefore come in.

How Can I Keep Springtails And Silverfish Out Of My Home?

The best thing you can do to deter these two creatures from entering your house is to keep moisture levels down. This may be easier said than done, but wiping down surfaces, clearing up spills, and fixing any plumbing issues promptly are all important in keeping your home free from pests.

Any leaking pipes or dripping taps need swift attention, and if necessary, you should install a dehumidifier. This should keep your home drier than the insects like, and deter them from coming in.

It is certainly the most effective defence against springtails, which are resistant to most pesticides and too small to trap in any meaningful numbers.

You should also make an effort to keep dried goods in sealable containers to reduce the food sources for silverfish, and put books and clothing out of the way, preferably in plastic bags. Move potted plants outdoors or repot them in fresh soil.

If you make your home unappealing to these little bugs, they are much less likely to start infesting it. You may still end up with a few inside your home because this is almost impossible to avoid, but the population should not explode and suddenly take over.

Do Silverfish Eat Springtails?

Yes, silverfish might prey on springtails sometimes. They are not fussy feeders and they will eat almost anything that comes their way, including springtails. They are omnivores, and both meat and plant matter will satisfy them.

If you have springtails in your home, a few silverfish will keep the numbers low, but since springtails are unobtrusive, this may not seem ideal to you, and it isn’t an effective means of pest control.

Dealing with infestations of either of these creatures should be rare, but if it occurs, don’t depend upon silverfish eating the springtails into extinction! Instead, call pest control and let them deal with the issue.

Bottom line

Silverfish are much larger than springtails, and they have a very different diet. They eat almost any organic matter, whereas springtails are focused upon plants, decay, and some dead insects.

In general, springtails are no problem in the home provided they do not massively overbreed, but silverfish can be somewhat destructive, and you should keep an eye on any that you find to check they aren’t breeding fast.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

How to Get Rid of Silverfish – 5 Minute Guide

Top 10 fastest moving insects in the world
Pest Control or Exterminator: Seven Key Things You Need to Know Before Choosing

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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