What is a Firebrat?

Close up of firebrat

We’ve written about how widely unknown and misunderstood silverfish are before. If that’s true of silverfish, however, it goes double for firebrats. Firebrats are basically silverfishes’ freakier cousin. They look more intimidating, they’re not as common, and you find them in stranger places. If the average homeowner can’t identify a silverfish on-sight, they’ve probably never even heard of a firebrat.

Just like silverfish, however, firebrats aren’t nearly as freaky as they look or sound. Like all pests, they have certain predictable patterns of behavior you can identify with a little knowledge. Once you understand firebrats, you’ll fear them far less. Even better, you’ll know what to do to keep them away from you! Here’s everything you should know about the silverfishes’ heat-loving cousin, and what to do about them.

What are firebrats?

Firebrats and Silverfish are both insects in the Lepismatildae family. Lepismatildae insects are commonly referred to as “bristletails,” because of the three, prong or tail-like bristles on their abdomens. The insects grow to around 12mm (0.4 inches) long, though their bristles and antennae make them appear longer. Bristletails have flat, long bodies with clearly segmented sections. These segments are covered in small scales, giving bristletails an armored appearance.

Firebrats and silverfish are similar in most ways. They’re both nocturnal scavengers, and they both move by running in a distinct, wiggling motion that resembles swimming. There are a few ways to tell a firebrat apart from a silverfish, however. While silverfish are silvery and metallic-looking, for instance, firebrats are darker gray or brown and less shiny. Unlike silverfish, firebrats have tufts of brown scales, which gives them a mottled or spotted appearance. While you’ll find silverfish in any humid area, firebrats prefer environments that are both hot (over 90℉) and humid.

what do firebrats want

What do firebrats want?

Firebrats enter homes looking for food, shelter, warmth, and humidity. Like silverfish, firebrats are nocturnal foragers. They hide in dark, hot, and humid areas during the day and come out to feed at night. Firebrats are general feeders that break down and consume the starch in a wide variety of material. They can eat wood, paper and paper products, glue, cotton, silk, flour, cereal, and more. Bristletails aren’t particularly picky about what they eat, and generally feed on whatever’s closest to their preferred hiding places.

Firebrats need to live and hide in areas of very high heat. They also prefer humid environments, though they’re more resistant to dryness than silverfish. Firebrats are highly heat-resistant and usually gravitate toward areas that are 90℉ or hotter. You’ll often find them hiding around furnaces, ovens, water heaters, hot water pipes and other heat-generating fixtures. They may also gather around heating vents. If you find a bristletail near a heat source, it’s probably a firebrat.

Where do firebrats come from?

Firebrats are distributed all over the world, and most commonly found indoors. They sneak into homes the same way most nuisance pests do: either through openings, or by hitchhiking on packages. Firebrats have very thin, flat bodies, and they’re very proficient climbers. The insects squeeze their way through very small cracks and crevices in order to get to warm locations. They find these cracks and crevices by following heat sources like utility pipes or drafts.

Firebrats are also very good at hiding. When they find a suitable hiding place, they’ll hunker down in it for hours at a time, until night falls and they can forage. Often, homeowners may inadvertently carry their hiding place into their home–while the firebrat is still using it! Boxes, bags, firewood, linens, and especially heat sources can all harbor firebrats. Inside, they’ll seek out hot and humid hiding places where they can easily access food. If possible, firebrats will stay close to the area where they initially entered your home.

keeping firebrats out

How can I keep firebrats out?

Generally speaking, if you have a bristletail infestation, it’s because there’s too much humidity in your home. That excess humidity could be coming from all kinds of places. If you have a firebrat infestation, specifically, then the source of the problem is probably near a warm place. Start by checking your water heater and hot water pipes for leaking or other damage. Leaking hot water creates the picture-perfect environment for firebrats, and they’ll notice it.

After you’ve checked your water fixtures, expand your search to all heat-generating fixtures. Make sure nothing’s leaking or dripping condensation in your kitchens or bathrooms. Check for drafty openings, especially near your utility lines and window sills. Make sure your attic insulation is doing its job properly, and you aren’t losing heat. You should also consider investing in a humidity monitor and dehumidifier for at-risk areas of the home. Addressing humidity, patching up access points, and removing clutter should all help keep firebrats away.

Despite sounding like some kind of cartoon monster, firebrats aren’t dangerous. They can’t sting, bite, or otherwise harm humans in any way. That doesn’t mean they’re not a problem, however. Firebrats can and will reproduce in your home. They’ll also stain and damage all kinds of food and other materials. You shouldn’t fear firebrats, but you should do all you can to keep them out.

If you need some help with preventing or eliminating a firebrat problem, give Griffin a call any time. Our experts know just how to find and wipe out bristletail infestations for good.

What Are Those Bugs in Your Basement?

Bugs in your basement

Bugs LOVE a basement. They’re dark, quiet, warm, and usually pretty humid to boot. If you have a bug infestation in your home, chances are they’re hanging out downstairs. Basements are a little spooky even under better circumstances, so we’re guessing you’re not terribly pleased to hear this.

There’s more bad news. Some bugs like basements more than others. The ones that really like basements are some of the freakiest-looking bugs around. Before you burn your house down, however, consider: these bugs are mostly terrifying because you don’t understand them. They aren’t the most dangerous pests in Michigan, or the scariest, or even the most stubborn. They’re just the freakiest ones that are here. This is everything you need to know about the monsters in your basement. The more you know, the less afraid you’ll be (we hope).


earwigWe’ll grant you: earwigs look like they crawled directly out of a nightmare. They’re about two inches long, with dark brown, reddish bodies, creepy light orange extremities… and GIANT PINCERS ON THEIR BACKSIDES. Earwigs are actually harmless to humans (and definitely don’t crawl into people’s ears) but… yeah, we get why you’d want to give them a wide berth. These insects love basements because they’re attracted to darkness and humidity. They feed on decaying plant material and sometimes hunt other insects.

Earwigs can’t fly or climb very well, so if they entered your home, they did it from the ground level. They usually find cracks near window wells and frames, or cracks in the foundation of the home. Earwigs often end up behind wallpaper or crammed into basement insulation after they sneak through low gaps. If you have earwigs in your home, it’s probably because your basement has a humidity problem. Consider investing in a dehumidifier and look for leaks.  


silverfishSilverfish are those tiny, silver-grey insects that really look more like shrimp than fish or bugs. Their long, thin bodies wiggle back and forth when they crawl, making it look like they’re swimming. “Silver” because of the color. “Fish” because of what they look like. Like earwigs, silverfish love moisture. They’re also attracted to warm and dark places where they can move around without being bothered. Silverfish are nocturnal, so chances are you’ll only see them at night.

Silverfish eat the starch naturally found in materials like paper, cotton, glue, carpeting, and other common household materials. They may also destroy clothing. Silverfish make use of their tiny size and thinness to get into homes. Usually, they sneak through narrow gaps in baseboards or flooring. They may even live inside walls if they can find a wide enough pathway. Humidity control is important for controlling silverfish, as is temperature control. Silverfish need temperatures of over 60℉ to breed.


pillbugPillbugs are very small, black bugs that are about as wide as they are long. Their backs are made up of seven overlapping, segmented plates that look hard and shiny, like a beetle’s shell. Pillbugs roll into a ball to protect themselves when threatened. These “bugs” (they’re actually related to crabs!) are a common sight in gardens. They consume decaying vegetable matter beneath the top layer of soil. Most pillbugs live bury themselves several inches under soil, because they’re very temperature sensitive.

Pillbugs can’t climb sheer surfaces, so they only enter basements via the ground level of the home. Usually, they’ll find gaps under the soil, around baseboards, foundations, or siding. Once inside, pillbugs generally cover themselves by hiding under furniture, boxes, or other clutter. Pillbugs can only survive in a basement if they have a source of moisture. Check for plumbing leaks, condensation, or puddling, especially around corners and the bottom of the wall.

House Centipedes

house centipedeIf basement pests are monsters, then you probably think of this guy as the “big bad”. House centipedes are inch long, tan-yellow bugs with very long longs. Those legs enable the bug to move very quickly, often in a rapid, darting motion. House centipedes are nocturnal predators that use their speed and venom-injecting claws to hunt other insects. These centipedes are capable of using these claws to “sting” humans too. The venom injected isn’t serious, but it hurts like a bee sting would.

House centipedes commonly follow their prey into homes through gaps near windows or cracks in the flooring or siding. Once they’re inside, they spend their days hiding and their nights hunting. Like most of the pests on this list, house centipedes love moist environments. Check for leaks and puddles in your basement, and consider a dehumidifier. Patching gaps may help with the humidity problem and deprive bugs of their access points at the same time.


We hope this blog helps you feel less afraid of venturing into the dark abyss that is your basement at night. Even if it doesn’t, however, at least now you can take action? Remember: your basement is your turf, not those bug’s. Even if house centipedes are just about the scariest things ever.

If you ever decide you need a little help with your basement monster slaying, feel free to call Griffin Pest Control anytime. We’re always happy to lend you our sword.