Some people wonder if silverfish and earwigs are the same insect.  However, they’re two very unique insects.


There are many different creatures that have more than one name. For example, tadpoles may be called pollywogs in your neck of the United States. And Chagas bugs are also commonly called assassin bugs or kissing bugs.

earwigs vs silverfish

Some people wonder if silverfish and earwigs fall into this category.  However, they’re two very unique insects.


Aside from both being unsightly, here are some ways to tell earwigs and silverfish apart.

Silverfish: As their name would suggest, silverfish are pearl gray and shiny. They don’t have wings on their slightly flattened bodies, so there’s no such thing as a flying silverfish. Because of the way their bodies taper from the head to the tail, they almost look like tiny silver lobsters without pincers. Silverfish can be anywhere from one-half of an inch to one-inch long. Additionally, they have three tail-like appendages that resemble antennae.

Earwigs: Earwigs also have slightly flattened bodies; however, that’s where the resemblance to silverfish stops. Earwigs are usually black or brown and some have stripes or reddish coloring on their heads and limbs. Earwigs can be anywhere from one-fourth of an inch to one-and-one-fourth inches in length. Unlike silverfish, earwigs do have wings, but you’ll rarely see them fly. One of the earwig’s most distinctive features are its cerci — two hard appendages that resemble pincers extending from the backend of the abdomen.


When it comes to meals, earwigs and silverfish prefer the finer things in life… like old books and newspapers. 

Silverfish: Silverfish mainly prefer starches. They are known to sometimes feed on books and paper products because of the starches and sizing in the paper. They also like glues used in old books and wallpaper installation.

Earwigs: Earwigs mostly eat plants and decaying organic matter.


They don’t really look alike. They kind of eat alike. But do silverfish and earwigs live alike when it comes to habitat choices?

Silverfish: If you want to spot a silverfish, look in parts of your home that are moist and don’t see a lot of foot traffic. Add in some food sources, like those old newspapers, books or family albums, and silverfish may be happy to call your house home. This is even more likely if you happen to live in a house with wooden shingles, as those tend to mold and silverfish can feed on that.

Earwigs: Fortunately, earwigs prefer the great outdoors. They are nocturnal and look for damp, dark places to live, like the underside of flagstones or tree bark and decaying wood. Likely the only time these insects will cause you a problem is if they move indoors. If that’s the case, you’ll likely find them in places that are cool, dark and moist, such as your basement, a bathroom or crawl space.

As you can see, these insects have many differences. One last thing they both have in common is that they’re hard to control if they infest your home. So, whether you think you have a problem with silverfish or earwigs, make sure you contact a pest control service, like Terminix®, so that a trained technician can evaluate the situation and recommend a removal and prevention solution.