There’s nothing worse than seeing a creepy crawly critter scurrying across your floor, the bottom of your bathtub, inside cabinets, or anywhere else in your home, for that matter. It’s enough to make you squeal and make your hair stand on end. There are a lot of critters that can get into your house, and two of the most common include the house centipede and silverfish. Both are creepy, that’s for sure, but there are quite a few differences between the two. Nevertheless, many homeowners confuse the house centipede and silverfish.

Is it a House Centipede or a Silverfish? Key Differences

If you’ve spotted a few unwelcomed visitors, you may be wondering if one of these critters is what you’re dealing with. To learn more about these nuisance invaders, including how you can tell centipedes and silverfish apart, keep on reading.


Part of the Chilopoda class, centipedes are often thought of as insects, but in fact, they aren’t. Insects have six legs, while centipedes can have up to 177 pairs of legs (the average is 35). Because of the moniker, it’s often assumed that centipedes have 1,000 legs, but that’s a misconception. However, on the higher end, centipedes can have up to 750 legs, which is an awful lot of legs. Additionally, the majority of centipedes also have a set of modified claws situated behind their heads, and these claws can contain venom.

House centipedes are a particular species of centipede and they are a common nuisance house pest; hence the name. It’s the only type of centipede that frequents human spaces. Unfortunately, the house centipede can be creepier than other types of centipedes, as it features around 15 pairs of long, spindly-like legs, and the older they are, the more legs they have.


Silverfish are a part of the Lepisma saccharina species. They also go by fish moth and bristletails, due to the fact that there are three long appendages located on the end of their bodies.

Silverfish are very small, have six legs, and they’re usually silver, though they can also be brown or white, or a combination of all three colors. These nuisance pests live in humid conditions and they come out at night, so don’t be surprised if you spot them in your bathroom or near your sinks in the late hours of the day.

While silverfish are creepy looking, for sure, it’s believed that silverfish do not bite humans, as their jaws aren’t strong enough to pierce through human skin. However, they do bite into their food, which is why they can damage your house, as they scrape their teeth along fabric, wallpaper, books, and other organic materials.

Key Differences Between Centipedes and Silverfish

Centipedes and silverfish are creepy; however, there are some distinct differences between these two pests. You can use these defining characteristics to tell centipedes and silverfish apart.


In terms of size, silverfish are smaller, as they measure between ½ an inch and 1 inch long, on average. Centipedes can grow up to 12 inches long, while they can also be as small as 0.4 inches.


Typically, house centipedes have dark bands of color that run along their legs and are a yellowish-brownish color. Silverfish, on the other hand, are silvery-gray in color, though they can also appear brown and white, or a combination of all three colors.


Perhaps the easiest way to tell these pests apart is by their legs; specifically, the number of legs. Centipedes have a lot more legs than silverfish; they can have up to 750 legs, though on average, they have about 30 legs. On the other hand, silverfish only have six legs.

Centipede or Silverfish?

The next time you see a creepy crawly lurking in your house, use the above-mentioned characteristics to determine if you’re dealing with a house centipede or a silverfish. Either way, if you think you have an infestation, contact a professional exterminator near you as soon as possible, as both pests can be a nuisance to get rid of.

A licensed professional exterminator in your area will have the knowledge and skill that’s necessary to not only accurately identify and eradicate these pests, but they can also take the steps that are necessary to prevent them from entering and invading your house again.

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