What is a Silverfish?


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What is a Silverfish?

Have you ever noticed scrawly-looking bugs run across your counter ? Notice tears and bite marks on the pages of your books? Bites in the wallpaper? This may be some signs of a silverfish- infestation. Good thing that there are ways to avoid of them, and if not that is where Chiltons comes in place!

Its name, the Silverfish, comes from its silvery color and the fact that is resembles a fish. Silverfish and their cousin the firebrat are pretty harmless, but an unattractive bug. It doesn’t help that they hang out in cold, dark, damp places like the basement or under the bathroom sink. Silverfish’s mostly rely on carbohydrates to survive that come from various natural sugars and starches. In urban environments, they will eat glue, paper of any kind including books, sugar, coffee and even clothing, making them quite a pest when they are able to make their way into homes. 

The Silverfish have an interesting reproduction and life cycle. Before silverfish reproduce they carry out a ritual involving three phases, which takes usually half an hour. During the first phase, the male and female stand face to face, their antennas touch, then repeatedly back off and return to the same position. During the second phase the male runs away and the female chases him. When the third phase happens, the male and female stand side by side and head-to-tail, with the male vibrating his tail against the female. Then the male lays a sperm capsule which the female takes into her body to fertilize her eggs. The female lays groups of fewer than 60 eggs at once, deposited in small crevices. These eggs are oval-shaped, whitish, and small- These eggs take between two weeks and two months to hatch. When the eggs hatch, they are a whitish color and they look like smaller adults. As they evolve, the silverfish turns grayish with a metallic shine. These silverfish become adults after three months to three years. They may go through 17 to 66 molts in their lifetime, sometimes 30 in a single year which is much more than most insects. Silverfish are among the few types of insect that continue to molt after they reach adulthood.

Now you are probably thinking where these critters live. Silverfish are only able to survive in damp areas and require at least 75% humidity in order to survive. When in the wild, they live among creeks and streams. When they reach the home, they will seek out any damp environment that will support them, including basements, bathrooms, closets, cupboards, anywhere that is dingy and damp. They are typically found in basements due to papers, files and books down there. Paper and glue is like the pizza for Silverfish. If this is unaided for a long period of time, an infestation of silverfish can go largely undetected until its too late and they eventually spread throughout the home. Remember these critters are able to fit through cracks and are able to climb into tiny spaces. You can find them slipping through cupboard cracks, under bathtubs, and any damp locations. Remember that you may not ever see them and might only find their damage.

 Simple ways to prevent these creatures is to never leave piles of newspaper or mail laying around. Also get rid of old cardboard boxes in the basement, and start storing stuff in plastic boxes. Store seasonal clothing in a dry-container,  vacuum on a regular basis, don’t eat anywhere but the dining room/kitchen (this goes for any bug problem.) Since Silverfish like moisture, have a dehumidifier in the basement. Make sure you are keeping up with replacing old windows, covering cracks, and replacing bathroom fans. Also keep up on the yard work, don’t have debris and leaves laying around the boarders of your home.

Like any bug out there, the best advice is to keep your home clean, especially keep food in the kitchen in containers. Check damp and dark areas of your home on a regular basis- You have to be proactive and aware of your home, so you don’t have to deal with these issues. Even with preventive steps, if you find that you are still having an issue with Silverfish, give Chiltons a call, and we will take care of the problem! Life is too short to be bugged!