Silverfish are household pests, silvery to grey in colour and approximately 1 1/2 – 2 cm long. They are wingless and look a little ‘fishlike’ having scales like fish and a tapered body at both ends.
Adult Silverfish (L)-Do-it-yourself Pest Control, Adult Silverfish (R)-Integrated Pest Management of Alaska
They are very quick when surprised, such as turning on a light or a sudden movement.
Habitat and Lifecycle
Silverfish are found worldwide, live in homes, vacant buildings, hospitals, attics, bathrooms and other places that are dark, warm and damp. During the day they are generally hiding in cracks, crevices, baseboards and behind furniture. As long as there is food they will continue to thrive. Unlike most insects having 4 lifestages, these guys only have 3. Males leave their sperm on fine silk threads and females then pick it up fertilizes her eggs. The females lay their eggs 1-4 per day and hatching occurs after 2-3 weeks. Egg to adult is approximately 4 months. They shed thier skins several times per year and can live up to 3 years. In their lifetime they can lay several hundred eggs.
Silverfish damage (L)-Home & Garden Information Center, Silverfish damage (R)-Clemson University
Diet and Damage
Their main diet is high in protein and carbohydrates. This includes food stuffs, books, paper, wallpaper, attic insulation, cardboard, drywall, cotton clothing and many other household items. Indications of silverfish includes small irregular holes and also tiny yellow stains.
How to get rid of Silverfish
- Pot Stickers – you can buy these or make your own with bright yellow card coated with a sticky substance like tanglefoot. Sticky traps placed on the floor are very effective.
- Reducing moisture in the home is the most important since they need dampness to survive. Using dehumidifiers in areas where silverfish are present will help reduce their numbers.
- Silica Dioxide is a non-toxic dust that can be applied to baseboards and areas where they have been seen. This works by drying them out so they shrivel up and die.
- Vaccuum regularily to keep the population at bay.
- Keeping moist debris out of the house is also good practice