Knowing how to identify a silverfish is your first step to controlling it.
WHAT DO silverfish LOOK LIKE?
Silverfish have no wings but are able to run very fast. Adult silverfish have a body length of about ½-3/4″ not including the tail. They have a flattened body and their shape is often compared to a teardrop, carrot, or fish, tapering from head to rear and generally covered with scales. Silverfish are named after their silvery, metallic appearance as well as their fish-like shape and movements. They also have threadlike antennas and small compound eyes that are widely separated. Immature silverfish look similar to adults, except for size and their scales appear with the third or fourth molt.
The silverfish female lays about one to three eggs per day, placing them in cracks, under objects, or even left exposed. Developmental time is three to four months under favorable conditions of 72-90 degrees F and at least 50-75 percent relative humidity. Otherwise, it may require up to two to three years. The majority of silverfish live up to three years.
Where do silverfish live
These pests can typically be found in humid, moist areas of the home including basements, attics, and bathrooms. People have noticed silverfish when they come down on ceiling soffits and/or drop from skylights and canister light fixtures in the ceiling, likely entering through shake roofs.
Silverfish get their name from the insect’s silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movements. Silverfish are also known as “bristletails” because of their three long, bristle-like or tail-like appendages on the rear end of their body. Silverfish are found throughout the U.S. and are typically seen in moist, humid areas in the home like bathrooms, basements, and attics, but they can be just about anywhere. They tend to hide their presence from humans, which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed as well.
Silverfish move fast and are good climbers. They can survive for weeks without food or water but require a high humidity environment of 70 to 90 percent. Silverfish prefer areas that are 70-85 degrees F. They are nocturnal and prefer to hide or rest in tight cracks or crevices during the day. Silverfish are known to infest commercial structures such as offices, stores, and libraries. They are often introduced into buildings via cardboard cartons of books and papers from an infested location. They will roam quite some distance while searching for food, but once they find a satisfactory food source, they remain close to it. Within structures, they will breed in a variety of areas, including wall voids, in/under the subflooring, attics, etc.
How did I get silverfish
Silverfish are found throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Pennsylvania and are typically seen in moist, humid areas in the home like bathrooms, basements, and attics, but they can actually be found almost anywhere in a house including living rooms, bedrooms, garages, and shake roofs. In fact, shake roofs are excellent breeding sites for silverfish during the warmer months, as they have an abundance of moisture, cellulose, starch, and dead insects. From there, they can easily gain entrance and move down through the insulation to enter a home.
Silverfish usually feed on paper items, glue, clothing, and food items, such as flour and rolled oats. They prefer proteins to carbohydrates and are cannibalistic — their favorite protein meals include dried beef and dead or injured of their kind. So just by having any of those things in your home, you could get silverfish. Keep in mind they can come in on a package, too, so you could have done nothing to attract them, and still have them. They are elusive little pests!
Silverfish are not considered a threat to humans, as they do not bite or spread disease. However, they can cause harm to personal belongings, especially those made out of paper. Silverfish are known to infest items such as wallpaper, books and envelopes, so these materials can become damaged over time as a result of a silverfish infestation. They can also feed on glue and clothing, as well as food items such as rolled oats and flour.
While silverfish are mainly a nuisance pest, they can do some damage. Indoors, silverfish can cause property damage by chewing holes in clothing, upholstery and paper goods, such as wallpaper and books. This is why it’s important to get rid of silverfish if you are dealing with an infestation. Their feeding marks are irregular whether they are holes, notches along an edge, or surface etchings. Yellow stains, scales, and/or feces (tiny black pepper-like pellets) may also be seen on infested materials. Best to let a professional silverfish exterminator deal with them!
How can I prevent silverfish
Looking to prevent or get rid of a silverfish infestation? The key to silverfish control is thoroughly inspecting preferred habitat areas and where appropriate food materials are present. If the infestation is localized on the inside, one can assume that it is recent and was either brought in via infested items or represents a recent invasion from the outside. If the infestation is widespread, then attention should be directed to the outside. Anything stored against or near the house’s exterior must be moved or removed since silverfish can easily climb up walls and find entrance around window and door frames, utility pipes and vents. Shake roofs should also be cleaned and sealed every other year.
Additional silverfish control tips include: get a dehumidifier for your home, repair leaky pipes and drains, and eliminate or repair any moldy or wet wood. Also don’t keep old books and magazines in areas where silverfish are usually found like basements, attics, and garages. And it’s important to keep food items such as flour and sugar in tight containers.