Physical Characteristics

Firebrats are shiny and mottled gray. Adults are slender, wingless, soft-bodied insects, 1/3- to 1/2-inches long. They have scaly bodies that taper gradually to the rear, with two slender antennae in front and three long, thin appendages in back. Like their silverfish cousins, firebrats are members of the primitive insect order Thysanura, or bristletails.




During the day, firebrats hide. If the object they are hiding under is moved, they dart toward another hiding place. They come out at night to seek food and water. They prefer heat and humidity, and they hang out in bakeries, or near boilers and ovens. Items on their menu are cereals, moist wheat flour, books, any paper on which there is glue or paste (including wallpaper), book bindings and starch in clothing, although they can live several months without nourishment. Firebrats can be found in any part of the home. They hide in baseboards and around window and door frames, from which they seek out food sources. Sometimes they can be found in the bathtub or sink.


To keep firebrats away, keep basements, laundry rooms and bathrooms, especially shower stalls, clean and dry. Plug or putty holes or spaces around pipes. Repair leaks and drips in plumbing. Clean out closets periodically. Collections of magazines, papers, and books provide food for them. Occasionally, move books around in a bookcase. Keep foods in containers with tight lids. If you are encountering a particularly resilient firebrat infestation, call Clark Pest Control, and we’ll handle it for you.

Latin name: Thermobia domestica