Silverfish

Get Rid of Silverfish in Your Home or Business

General Information

Silverfish, scientifically named Lepisma saccharina, commonly reside inside homes throughout New England.

The small, metallic-looking insects prefer to live in relatively cool or room-temperature areas that are dark places with high relative humidity and access to tight spaces (due to their flat body compositions).

Silverfish bugs regularly get grouped scientifically with firebrats, which share many of the same characteristics.

Silverfish eat clothes
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Appearance & Identification

What Do Silverfish Look Like?

The wingless bodies of silverfish possess a metallic sheen caused by full-body silver scaling and characteristically oblong proportions that taper from head to rear.

The average silverfish runs roughly half an inch in length when fully grown. A pair of long antennae protrude from the heads of the insects, with three additional filaments, or "bristles", extending from their backsides. The scaled bodies of the insects appear segmented to the human eye.

Habits/Habitat

The insect primarily lives in areas of high relative humidity and remains hidden from direct or indirect sunlight and/or artificial light. A nocturnal insect, silverfish mostly hide during the day and wait until nighttime to become active.

The movements of the insect are often reported as being jerky or erratic, with short bursts of high speeds followed by abrupt stops. Silverfish are often thought to live inside drains, but the insect actually lacks the ability to climb smooth, vertical surfaces.

Silverfish are often found in:

  • Books
  • Boxes
  • Basements
  • Crawlspaces
  • Closets
  • Other dark areas seldom or rarely disturbed.

Adult silverfish live approximately three years.

Diet

What Do Silverfish Eat?

Silverfish eat during the night when the insect is most active. Their diets consist of a multitude of food sources ranging from starches and sugars to protein-based sustenance, like cereals or vegetable-based foodstuffs.

Silverfish have been known to eat pastes and glues, which accounts for reports of the wingless insects eating wallpaper or book bindings. In extreme circumstances, the insect can survive without food for as long as several months and even up to a full year.

Reproduction

Adult female silverfish bugs are capable of laying many eggs over a lifetime. Once they reach the adult life stage, the females never stop laying eggs, which are usually deposited either one by one or in small groupings in cracks or crevices hidden away from light and other potential threats.

Most silverfish eggs hatch within a three-to-six-week timeframe. The egg hatches into the larval stage and the insect molts from larval to larval stage until reaching adulthood. This process normally takes about three to six weeks.

Problems Caused by Silverfish

The most prevalent problems created by silverfish usually only occur in instances of extreme infestation.

Silverfish often damage:

  • Books
  • Wallpapers
  • Newspapers
  • Other paper products lying around the average home.

However, noticeable damage generally only occurs when large infestations take up residence in homes with ideal conditions. Overall, the insect primarily serves as a nuisance. The feces of silverfish has been known to stain clothing and paper materials.

Signs of Infestation

Homeowners in areas like New England recognize silverfish infestations simply by visual observation. The insect also leaves traces of fecal matter behind while feeding.

Silverfish generally reside within close proximity of food sources. Check in and around areas where the pests have been spotted to learn more about suspected infestations and their potential locations.

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Prevention

Many steps can be taken to prevent silverfish infestations without the use of chemicals.

Homes in suburban and urban New England may possess aging roofs with leaky ceilings, which potentially provide adequate living conditions for silverfish. Routine maintenance to homes, including reinsulating attics or patching roofs, tightening pipes and plumbing, and keeping foods in secure, tight places, are ideal ways to limit or reduce risk of infestations.

If insecticidal methods prove necessary in cases of extreme infestation, the application of boric acid in suspected problem areas usually helps get rid of silverfish infestations within a reasonably short amount of time. Contact pest removal specialists if infestations appear out of control.