What are silverfish?
Picture of SilverfishSilverfish are wingless, flat insects with two long, slender antennae at the front and three long, slender, “bristles,” at the rear of a tapered, carrot-shaped body. They are generally drawn to moisture, and like warm, humid conditions. Their close relative, the firebrat, prefers heat, and will be found in hot areas. They run in a dart movement.
What do they look like?
Silverfish have flat, elongated bodies 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and are broad near the head, tapering toward the rear. They have a rather carrot shape to them. They are wingless insects, coveredwith scales and have two long, slender antennae at the head, accompanied by three antennae-like appendages at the rear. One of these points straight back, while the other two curve off to the sides.
The Silverfish adult is about 1/2 inch long with a uniform silvery or pearl-gray color. The four-lined silverfish is about 3/4 inch long and uniform light to dark gray. The young resemble adults except adults, except they are smaller (as one would expect). They will be adults within 3 months.
What do they eat?
Silverfish will eat almost anything, though they prefer vegetable matter with a high carbohydrate content. They are drawn to oats, dried beef, flour, starch, paper, gum, glue, cotton, linen, rayon, silk, sugar, molds, and cereals. They eat using chewing mouthparts set in a head cavity. Though they can survive for weeks without food, they tend to stay close to a food source once they find it.
How do they live?
Silverfish normally live outdoors under rocks, bark, and leaf mold, in the nests of birds and mammals, and in ant and termite nest. They are also found in home. Being drawn to moisture, they are often found in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. under sinks, stoves, and floor, and around water pipes, in damp cool places, around bookcases, windows, door frames, and closets, and just about about anywhere they can find a warm, humid place to live. The firebrat prefers hot, dark areas around furnaces and fire places, and insulation around hot water or heating pipes. They are active year around. Any paper left in a damp area is in danger of these bugs.
Female silverfish may lay over 100 white, oval eggs during a lifetime. Eggs are laid singly or two to three at a time in small groups in cracks and crevices, hatchin three to six weeks later. Their populations do not grow rapidly due to their slow development rate, so a largr population is indicative of a long term problem. They are generally found in sinks and bathtubs, where they fell looking for water and could not get out.
How do I find them?
Monitoring for silverfish is the first step in determining if control is necessary. It is important to determine if the damge is indeed cased by this insect. A simple mixture of can provide this information for you. Make a paste by mixing flour and water (keep it fairly thick), spreak it on cardboard and let it dry. Place the cardboard in an area where silverfish are suspected. It is easy to determine if feeding has taken place (bite marks and scraped surfaces). You may also look for any irregular holes, notches, or surface etchings in the house.