Silverfish Control: Silverfish

Description

Silverfish (lepisma saccharina) are nocturnal insects with a grayish, metallic sheen and a tapering abdomen. Their name is derived from their piscine appearance, and the swaying motion with which they move. Silverfish also have compound eyes and long antennae. While they do not pose a threat to humans, their diet consists of carbohydrates like starches and sugars, and can cause massive amounts of property damage.

Pest Facts

Color

Shiny gray

Legs

Six

Shape

Tapered oval

Size

13 to 25 mm long

Antennae

Yes

Flying

No

Region

North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, and Continental Asia

  • Silverfish prefer a dim, dank environment.
  • Tend towards the indoors.
  • They require a relative humidity of anywhere between 75% and 95%.
  • Silverfish can even be found in some areas of the Pacific.

Habits

Silverfish are attracted to anything containing sugars and starches for food, including paper, cellulose, shampoo, fabrics, coffee, carpet, sugar, dandruff, photographs, and adhesives, among other things. Provided there is water available, silverfish can survive without food for a year, and in times of desperation they can resort to eating leather, synthetic fabrics, and their molted exoskeleton. Being nocturnal, they search for sustenance at night.

Habitat

Silverfish are most commonly found indoors, preferring areas that are dark and moist like bathrooms, basements, or kitchens. Due to their preference to these areas, finding silverfish in a sink or a cabinet is not surprising. Generally, silverfish can survive easily in cool areas, but their activity rate decreases in cold temperatures and they die in freezing weather. Sometimes they can be found outdoors, under rocks and logs, or occasionally in caves.

Reproduction

Silverfish undergo a mating ritual before reproducing, and once it has concluded the male silverfish fertilizes the female silverfish’s eggs. The amount of eggs that the silverfish lays varies, ranging from as few as two to as many as twenty eggs. The period of time over which they lay their eggs also varies. What is consistent, however, is the habitat where the female lays the eggs, which tends to be in cracks and crevices.

Lifespan

Silverfish can live for a fairly long time. Young silverfish reach adulthood in roughly six weeks, and they can live between two and eight years. These are one of the rare insects that will continue to molt throughout their entire lifespan.

Threats

Silverfish are not a threat to people, but they are capable of massive amounts of property damage. They can eat many types of carbohydrates, and when they do, they leave small holes and yellow stains where they ate from. Books, clothes, and plant life will sustain heavy amounts of damage from silverfish feeding. Furthermore, since they will eat sugar and coffee, any stores of these can become contaminated by silverfish. While they are not carriers of pathogens, they still are unappetizing to find in food. Also, their nocturnal nature can make them difficult to find, and they can reproduce fast enough to where an infestation may easily occur once they find a suitable location to live within the property.

Prevention

Reducing humidity in your home is one method to prevent an infestation of silverfish, and this can be achieved through a dehumidifier or improving ventilation in some climates. Proper food storage cuts off their access to certain foods, too. While they can feed on a plethora of things, limiting it where you can will still help you against them. For a natural repellent, cinnamon is known to keep silverfish away. Finally, filling in cracks and crevices will keep them from entering the home in the first place, as well as limit the options for where the female can lay eggs.