The silverfish is one of the most common insect pests in the world. They are sometimes called bristletails or paper fish, although their scientific name is Lepisma saccharinum.
Silverfish are voracious eaters that subsist on starchy foods. They especially like paper, and feed on boxes, books, and other household materials. These insects are silver or gray in color, and their body is covered in small scales, often described as fish-like.
The body is widest at the head and tapers to the rear end, where there are three long appendages, each covered with bristles. One of the appendages protrudes directly from the end of the body, while the other two protruding from the left and right sides of the torso at ninety-degree angles.
Silverfish are between 1 and 2 cm long and can live up to eight years. These insects are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day.
If you have a silverfish infestation, you are probably wondering where the critters come from, plus if you have damp, these critters will squat in your house.
In their natural environment, silverfish live in humid and well-protected areas, such as under logs and rocks, or in the leaf litter, so you should have plants that fight humidity in your house. However, in a domestic setting, they tend to live behind furniture, in books, in basements, or near sinks. They need moisture to survive and will establish themselves anywhere the humidity levels in your home are high.
Like all insects, silverfish need to eat. These insects rely on starchy food sources such as fibers, sugars, fabrics, grains, and dry goods such as cereals and pet food.
Part of the reason silverfish are so difficult to remove is that, in the wild, they eat almost anything from starches and carbohydrates to protein. In their natural environment, they feed on composted plant material, leaves, and other decaying items. In your home, they will be happy to eat leftover food, bits of pet food, and dry goods, such as sugar, flour, and cereals.
Silverfish lay their eggs in dark, moist, hidden areas of the house. The eggs are yellow or white and bulb-shaped.
Silverfish love to settle in sheltered areas such as behind furniture, on bookshelves, or in damp basements. Although making your home inhospitable to silverfish will help get rid of them, you may need the help of a pest control specialist for serious infestations.
In contrast, silverfish love moisture, so their presence tends to indicate that there is moisture and not dirt in a house. Since silverfish feed on the most common building materials, even clean houses offer them plenty of sustenance.
That said, silverfish consider dusty areas of the house to be a buffet. Since dust is made up primarily of organic debris, such as human skin and dander, silverfish often survive on dust alone.
When the silverfish in your home die or are injured, the ones that are left alive eat the carcasses to meet their protein needs.
Silverfish are not harmful to people. They do not bite, sting, or carry disease or pathogens. Although they are not a health threat, silverfish are not pests you want to live with.
Silverfish can damage household items and building materials, and their creepy presence will quickly make your home unsightly. In addition, some people with severe allergic symptoms may experience reactions to silverfish feces or shed skin.
The first sign of a silverfish infestation is the presence of live silverfish. These small, flexible, slippery insects range in color from silvery-blue to gray-brown. They are tear-shaped and move back and forth, like a fish swimming.
Silverfish have quite unique droppings. They look like small black peppercorns and are often found in areas that silverfish frequent, such as the backs of furniture or the space under cabinets.
Silverfish droppings are small enough that many people mistake them for household dust or waste. However, if you sweep once and they keep coming back, you know you have a pest problem.
Silverfish shed their skin throughout their lives. The outer shells are small, delicate, and transparent, but they are a good indication of a silverfish infestation.
Even if you don't notice the skin shed, you can see the yellow powder left on surfaces when silverfish molt. These yellow stains usually appear on books, paper, cardboard boxes, or clothing.
One of the easiest ways to spot silverfish is to identify the damage they cause. Silverfish feed on starchy foods, such as wallpaper, clothing, and cardboard. Look for holes in these types of objects to confirm that you have a silverfish infestation.
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