Closely related to and often mistaken for silverfish, firebrat bugs are a common household pest in many American homes.
That said, they are nothing to fear. Firebrats don’t carry any diseases and are harmless to people and pets. When they stay outside, they play an important role in our environment as natural decomposers. Still, firebrats can live a rather long time in comparison to other insects and are known to infiltrate homes in large numbers if the conditions are right.
No one enjoys having their home invaded by creepy looking insects like firebrats, and we’re sure you’re no exception. So today, we are going to talk more about firebrats and learn how to get rid of a firebrat infestation once and for all.
What Is A Firebrat?
Firebrats look similar to silverfish but have different body patterns and are often more stout.
Scientifically known as Thermobia Domestica, the firebrat bug is an insect in the Thermobia class, which is the same class as its cousin, the silverfish. In fact, firebrats look very similar to silverfish insects and the two are often mistaken for one another when found in homes.
While silverfish and firebrats do have a lot in common, they are also quite different in that they prefer different habitats and even look different from one another upon closer inspection.
Firebrats are actually more stout in body than silverfish. They are also flat and are often a mottled grey or brown color with patterned scales down their backs. These insects have two long antennas at the top of their heads and three long, thin barbs protruding from their backside.
As their name suggests, firebrat bugs prefer the heat, often seeking shelter in areas close to 100 degrees fahrenheit. Their small, flat bodies allow for them to hide in thin cracks and crevices around the home, and finding them can be challenging unless you know where to look.
This is one of the reasons firebrat infestations can seem to pop up out of nowhere. When firebrats enter the home, they will often hide in small, dark spaces until night when they come out to feed. Female firebrats lay around 50 eggs at a time, and these eggs generally hatch around the same period.
When this happens, clusters of firebrats may be found all at once, leading to alarm and confusion for many homeowners.
Luckily, firebrats are completely harmless and considered more of a nuisance pest than anything else when they enter the home. That said, they do have a ravenous appetite that includes carbohydrates, proteins, and starches.
For this reason, they have been known to cause damage to personal property in large numbers and can, in some cases, contaminated pantry foods with their scales, moltings, and waste.
Worse, firebrats have a rather long lifespan, with many living upwards of four years. This means that waiting for a firebrat infestation to simply die out is often not the best option.
But before we begin looking into ways to control and eradicate a firebrat infestation, let’s look at why you might have firebrats in your home in the first place.
Why Do You Have A Firebrat Infestation?
Firebrats are attracted to water, shelter and food sources that often include foods like cereals.
Like most pests, firebrats enter homes looking for food, water, and warmth. While they can live quite comfortably outdoors and are often found beneath rocks, in soil, and in bird nests, firebrats tend to come inside seeking shelter and will stick around if the conditions are ideal.
They are attracted to areas of high humidity and seek out locations like hot water heaters, dryers, boilers, and more. In fact, firebrats are often found in bakeries, where heat and food is abundant for them.
And speaking of food, firebrats love a variation of all types of carbs, proteins and starches. They are known to feed on protein sources like meats and will also seek out flour, cereals, paper, paste, glue, cardboard, bookends, and even dog food.
With that in mind, it’s fair to assume that every home in the United States has some sort of food source inside for firebrats. However, certain conditions can help firebrats thrive and reproduce more quickly, which can lead to a larger infestation.
These conditions include ideal humidity and heat, as well as improperly stored food and homes with water leaks or pipe damage. Stagnant water sources are also highly attractive to firebrats, who will congregate around water sources in search of a drink.
However, even a large infestation of firebrats in your home can go unnoticed for long periods of time and this is for a few basic reasons. First, firebrats are small and flat. They are also nocturnal, hiding out until night to feast and drink, and they are very quick, moving in rapid, jerk-like motions to get to and fro.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can pick up on a firebrat infestation inside your home in the early stages, so it’s important to know the signs.
How To Identify A Firebrat Infestation
Firebrats can commonly be found in insulation and near heating ducts or water heaters.
One of the key elements to a successful pest control regime is making sure you know which kind of pest you are targeting. This can be difficult when you are dealing with an insect like the firebrat, which looks so similar to another insect, the silverfish.
Luckily, most methods for getting rid of a silverfish infestation will work for controlling firebrats, and vise versa. This is mainly because the two insects are in the same classification and also because they have similar habitats, lifestyles, and dietary needs.
That said, it’s still wise to know the difference between the two.
The below video does a wonderful job of explaining the differences between a firebrat and a silverfish.
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Along with knowing whether or not you are dealing with a firebrat or a silverfish, we also suggest taking a look at some common clues firebrats leave behind when they infiltrate homes.
You may have a firebrat infestation in your home if you notice:
Holes Chewed Through Certain Belongings
Firebrats are hungry little insects who can eat a variety of foods. They often chew clean through the foods they are munching on, especially when munching on books, paper, wall paper, book bindings, and linens.
If you notice small holes gnawed through the above items or items similar, chances are you have fire brats.
Seeing One or Two Firebrats In Your Home
Firebrats are attracted to moisture and will often crawl into sinks or bathtubs in search of a drink in the middle of the night. Once inside the tub, they will get trapped and won’t be able to climb back out again. If you find a firebrat inside your tub in the morning, you are likely dealing with many more firebrats elsewhere in your home.
Finding Firebrat Fecal Matter
The fecal matter firebrat bugs leave behind look very similar to pepper flakes. This fecal matter can be found in areas where firebrats live including beneath dryers, hot water heaters, boilers, and sometimes in basements, attics, bathrooms, and even kitchens.
Finding Molted Skins
Four years is a long time in bug life, and firebrats molt often during their lives. When they do, they leave behind shed skins that look like small shells of live firebrat insects. People often find these moltings in book cases, beneath appliances, and other areas where firebrats tend to frequent.
Alright, now you know what to look for and how to identify a firebrat infestation. If you have read through the above signs and have officially diagnosed a firebrat problem inside your home, then it’s time to work on how to get rid of firebrats once and for all.
How To Get Rid Of A Firebrat Infestation – Most Popular Methods
Firebrats are excellent at hiding due to their small, flat bodies.
Firebrats can be somewhat difficult to get rid of, especially if an infestation has gone unchecked for quite a while. That said, we do want to remind you again that firebrats are generally harmless and there are some methods you can use to repel them and get your home back to being firebrat-free.
Some of the most common firebrat control methods include the use of natural repellents, home remedies, insecticides, and professionals. Preventative methods are also a key component to dealing with and managing a firebrat infestation.
We typically like to recommend trying natural products first for how to get rid of a firebrat infestation because these infestations are inside of homes where people and pets live. The benefit of using natural products for pest control is that they are generally safe for people, pets and the environment and can often work just as effectively as more intensive pest control treatments that contain insecticides.
Some of the best natural products you can use for how to get rid of a firebrat infestation include sprays, dusts, repellents, and more. We will list some of our favorite products for you further down that are specifically designed to control and get rid of a firebrat infestation.
If you are interested in do it yourself pest control, then you will love learning that there are home remedies you can use to repel and control a firebrat infestation inside your home. Many home remedies don’t require a trip to the store at all since they often use ingredients that you already have in your pantry, medicine cabinet or refrigerator.
Though we do love using natural pest control methods for how to get rid of a firebrat problem, sometimes these techniques are not enough to quell severe infestations. The good news is that there are plenty of insecticides designed for use indoors and can be effective and safe when used as directed.
Because firebrats are so attracted to water, an overwhelming number of firebrats inside your home could be a sign of a more serious issue like leaky pipes or water damage. Furthermore, large infestations may attract other insects and predators of firebrats into your home, which can lead to further problems.
If you find that you cannot manage your firebrat infestation on your own, it may be wise to contact a professional pest control expert to help you pinpoint the problem and get rid of firebrats for good.
But before you make that call, let’s try and get rid of those firebrats using some of the below products and methods. Let’s begin with products you can use to get rid of firebrats naturally.
How To Get Rid Of A Firebrat Infestation Using Natural Products
Diatomaceous Earth is a popular dust insect killer that is natural and safe.
Natural pest control is becoming more and more popular, especially for those who are passionate about organic pest care or for those with children and pets inside the home. Luckily, there are plenty of natural products designed to control a firebrat infestation that are proven to work just as effectively as insecticides when used and applied correctly.
Best of all, most of these natural repellents are perfectly safe to use around people and pets and are safe and gentle for the environment. Take a look.
Eco Defense Pest Spray
We have listed Eco Defense Pest Spray first because it is specifically designed to eradicate difficult pests like bed bugs, roaches, ants and firebrats. It works to repel and kill pests naturally using organic ingredients that are safe for people, pets and the environment.
This natural pest control spray also works on stink bugs, fleas, ticks, earwigs, mites, scorpions, and spiders.
Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Another natural product you can use to get rid of a firebrat infestation is a natural dust insecticide called Diatomaceous Earth. This powder comes in food-grade form or a crawling insect killer form, but both are safe to use inside of the home and out.
Diatomaceous Earth is made from fossilized algae and works by killing pests on contact. It penetrates their exoskeleton, which dehydrates and kills them. That said, this product can also harm beneficial insects like honey bees and ladybugs, so be careful when using it in your garden.
However, the good news is that Diatomaceous Earth is completely safe to use in homes with people and pets and will not harm the environment.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Control
Wondercide spray comes in both indoor and outdoor formulas and uses a combination of essential oils and other natural ingredients to kill and repel pests like firebrats. You can order it in a few different essential oils, including lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and cedarwood.
All of the above essential oils will help kill and repel firebrats and will also work to control and eradicate other pests like spiders, roaches, fleas, ticks, ants and mosquitoes.
Mighty Mint Insect Spray
We have used Mighty Mint Insect Spray personally for spider repellent use and it works very well. This spray in particular is designed to eradicate a number of indoor pests including silverfish, firebrats, roaches, ants, spiders, and fleas.
As its name suggests, the spray uses peppermint oil and other naturally derived ingredients to kill and repel pests from inside the home. It is safe to use in areas where children and pets frequent and can even be used in the kitchen.
Colton’s Naturals Peppermint Oil Spray
Colton’s Naturals uses peppermint oil and geranium oil to control firebrats and eliminates infestations naturally inside the home. It is safe to use around children and pets and will not harm the environment either.
Best of all, it works well against many other home invading pests like stink bugs, spiders, mosquitoes, roaches, and ants.
Cedarcide Natural Insect Repellent
Cedar oil is a common repellent for many pests including silverfish and firebrat bugs. If you are looking for a natural way to control and eradicate a firebrat infestation in your home, why not try Cedarcide? This product uses natural ingredients including cedar oil and other repellents to get rid of firebrats without harming children, pets or the environment.
Best of all, the smell is lovely. That said, this product should be used as directed and is of course still considered a pest control spray, so it should be kept out of reach of children and curious pets.
MDXconcenpts Organic Pest Control Spray
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Last but not least we have an organic pest control spray by MDXConcepts. This spray again uses peppermint oil and other natural ingredients to get rid of firebrat infestation and other pest problems quickly and effectively.
You can spray this product along baseboards, in cracks and crevices where these pests hide, and even use it in areas where food is stored and prepared like in kitchens and cabinets. However, it may need to be reapplied more than once in order to work effectively, especially when dealing with a very large infestation of firebrat bugs.
How To Get Rid Of A Firebrat Infestation Using Home Remedies
Cinnamon can repel a number of pests, including firebrats.
Getting rid of firebrats doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, you may already have the ingredients it takes to get rid of firebrats right now in your fridge, pantry or medicine cabinet.
You can get rid of firebrats using:
Firebrats are one of many pests that can be deterred naturally with the use of essential oils. The essential oils that most effectively work on a firebrat infestation include:
- Cedar Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- And Citrus Oil
Making your own firebrat repellent spray using the above essential oils is as simple as adding five to ten drops of the oil of your choice to a spray bottle full of two cups of water. Mix the solution by shaking it and then spray it in areas you have noticed firebart activity including around appliances, beneath sinks, along baseboards, in basements, attics, and bookcases.
Mothballs are a wonderful deterrent for many pests, not just firebrats. They work well to deter silverfish, mice, rats, Indian meal moths, and many more. Mothballs are simple to use and can be placed around your home whenever you have noticed firebrat activity.
The overwhelming scent of mothballs will deter firebrats and eventually encourage them to leave. That said, using mothballs is not an organic form of pest control as it uses a strong chemical called naphthalene to make the pest-deterrent smell.
Naphthalene can be toxic to people and pets if ingested, so use this home remedy carefully, especially if you have small children or curious pets in the home.
You can purchase lavender dried in packets and place them around your home and in areas you suspect firebrat activity or you can even grow lavender in your home or plant them along the perimeter of your home to keep firebrats from entering.
Lavender oil is also a common deterrent to get rid of firebrats and can even work to repel other pests like silverfish, spiders, scorpions, flies, and mosquitos.
You can repel firebrats using common spices from your spice cabinet. Best of all, these spices smell delicious to humans and are simple to use. The best spices to repel firebrats include:
- Bay Leaves
- And Cinnamon
To use the spices of your choice to repel firebrats and encourage them to pack their bags, simply take the spice jar you want and leave it open near the area where you suspect firebrats to be lurking. You can also sprinkle the spices along cracks and crevices and in bookshelves where you have noticed signs of firebrats.
How To Get Rid Of A Firebrat Infestation Using Insecticides
If the above methods for natural firebrat removal don’t work, that’s okay. There are a few insecticides that are specifically designed to control firebrat and silverfish infestations inside the home and that can help get rid of a firebrat infestation quickly.
Some of these insecticides do contain harsh chemical ingredients, however, and can be toxic to people and pets if not used as directed. For that reason, it is always wise to read the label carefully and keep these products out of reach of children and pets.
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Tempo Ultra is commonly used in large infestations that involve roaches, spiders, and even bed bugs. It is effective in getting rid of stubborn pests like firebrats and uses a strong insecticide ingredient known as Cyfluthrin to kill and prevent these pests when applied correctly.
While it is designed to use inside the home, the active ingredient Cyfluthrin can be toxic to people and pets and should only be used as directed.
BorActin Insect Dust Insecticide
BorActin is a dust insecticide that uses Boric Acid to control pest infestations that include firebrats, silverfish, roaches, spiders, ants, and more. This product works by enticing the insect to eat the dust. Then, when the insect goes to drink, the dust expands in the stomach, killing them.
This is a common insecticide used to treat ant and rodent infestations but it works well for pests like firebrats. Furthermore, boric acid is a natural compound found in minerals like rocks, water and soil. That said, it is still considered an insecticide and can be dangerous to people and pets if not used correctly.
Dekko Silverfish and Firebrat Paks
These Dekko Paks are another product that uses Boric Acid to control a firebrat infestation in your home and can also help protect and prevent silverfish. These packs come ready to use and are designed to place in areas where firebrats frequent like beneath appliances, in basements, attics, and inside bookshelves.
While this is an effective form of pest control when it comes to monitoring and controlling pests like firebrats and silverfish, this product can be toxic to people and pets and should be kept out of reach of children.
How To Prevent A Future Firebrat Infestation
Storing food in airtight containers can help prevent a number of pest infestations, including firebrat infestations
Many experts agree that firebrat infestations can be difficult to manage since firebrats are so stealthy. With that in mind, most recommend practicing routine preventative measures all year round to keep pests like firebrats from becoming a problem in the first place.
Some of the best preventative steps you can take to keep firebrats from coming back once you have gotten rid of them are listed below. Take a look.
Reduce The Humidity In Your Home
Remember, firebrats love heat and humidity. While shutting off your hot water heater and never using your dryer again is unrealistic, there are some ways you can go about making your home less habitable to these insects, and one of these ways is to actively dehumidify your residence.
Dehumidifiers can be purchased at most home improvement stores as well as online. However, you can also help dehumidify your home by simply keeping the air moving with fans and leaving windows open when the weather permits.
Repair Water Damage As Soon As Possible
Firebrats are big fans of moisture and are often attracted to our homes looking for a good source of water. You can reduce your chances of a future firebrat infestation by staying on top of home repairs and fixing water damage, leaky pipes, and broken showerheads and drains as soon as you notice they happen.
Keep Up With Home Maintenance
You can also keep firebrats from entering your home by practicing routine home maintenance along your house perimeter. Caulk and seal any potential entry points for these tiny insects and make sure doors and windows shut securely. It is also wise to repair and properly size window screens.
Keep Up With Landscaping
This is a must when it comes to not only keeping firebrats at bay, but also many other pests like rodents, spiders, and insects. Remember, most pest infestations begin outdoors and pests often find their way inside after conveniently living in plant life along the perimeter of your home.
In order to avoid this, we suggest keeping plant life at least three feet away from the siding of your home. And since firebrats like moisture, try using straw instead of mulch. Mulch often soaks up moisture and is attractive to a number of pests from silverfish to earwigs to firebrats.
Declutter Your Yard and Home
Firebrats are attracted to clutter because it offers them an ideal place to hide and can even accumulate excess moisture and decaying material, which they feast on. Decluttering your home and yard can help reduce your chances of having a future firebrat infestation inside your home.
Seal Pantry Food In Airtight Containers
Sealing your pantry food in airtight containers won’t only help keep pests like firebrats, silverfish, roaches, and rodents at bay, but it will also prolong the food’s shelf life.
We suggest using containers that are made of thick plastic or glass that these pests cannot chew through. Doing this will also help reduce food waste and prevent pests from being able to smell these foods, which can further entice them into your home.
And remember, while firebrats are annoying, they do not harm people or pets. That said, they do have a long lifespan and can be unnerving to come across, and may even cause damage to your personal belongings. Luckily, if you follow the above methods of pest control and prevention, you should be able to take back your home and live firebrat-free.
Best of luck!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.