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Silverfish 101

What Are They? 

The term silverfish is actually commonly use to describe various different species within the order Zygentoma. However, the true silverfish is actually known as Lepisma saccharina Linnaeus. These creatures are incredibly simple and considered one of the least evolved species within Zygentoma. 

Appearance

Silverfish have oval, elongated bodies that almost appear to be covered with scales like a fish, hence their name. They are typically silver in color, although they have been known to be a variety of shades of brown. They have two long antennae, six legs, and are roughly ¾ inches long, not including their bristly tails. 

Silverfish bodies are fairly flat and their oval shape tends to taper a bit towards their tail, resulting in a carrot-like shape. When moving, they almost appear to be swimming over the floor, swaying back and forth like a fish as it scurries along. 

Habitats and Habits

Silverfish are native to the United States and are found all over the country. They are very keen on moist areas that are preferably warm and humid, which makes them very drawn to areas such as laundry rooms, bathrooms, and basements. They thrive in environments with very high humidity, roughly 70-90 percent, and don’t fare well in environments that are dry. Silverfish are also rarely seen during the daytime as they are nocturnal creatures. 

These insects are rather resilient, able to survive without food and water for weeks, but do require humidity to survive. They are very fast on their feet and are rather adept at climbing, making them difficult to catch. 

Silverfish diets are partial to protein over carbohydrates, although they will eat a variety of odd carb items including: flour, oats, clothing, paper, cardboard, and even glue. When presented with options, silverfish will show preference to any available form of protein, even resorting to cannibalism to get their dietary fix. 

Are They Harmful? 

Aside from potentially damaging items by chewing on clothing, wallpaper, etc. silverfish are considered simply a nuisance. They are not a threat to humans in any way. They do not bite, transmit diseases, nor sting. However, then can give your adrenaline a jump start if they startle you when you disturb their hiding spot. 

Prevention

Since silverfish are drawn to moisture, it’s important to eliminate extraneous water throughout your home. Repairing any leaking sinks, pipes or drains, and utilizing a dehumidifier in moist areas of your home can help avoid attracting these insects into your home. 

But, if you want true peace of mind, you can always call in the experts. We know how to make your home a fortress against pests like silverfish. 

Citations

Phillips, E. and Gillett-Kaufman, J. (2018) Silverfish: Lepisma saccharina Linnaeus, University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Available at: http:// entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/URBAN/silverfish.HTM (Accessed: June 2020).

Silverfish (2020) Pest World. National Pest Management Association. Available at: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/occasional-invaders/silverfish/ (Accessed: June 2020).