Everything You Need To Know About Silverfish

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Like most people, silverfish love a warm fire, a good book and a tasty snack. But are these wiggly, creepy creatures really something you want to share your home with?

What do silverfish look like?

These alien-looking 12-19mm insects can be white to brown-grey or a bluish-silver in color, as you might guess from the name, and they move in a manner that resembles a fish swimming. Silverfish are a unique teardrop shape but they appear to be very flat. Their most noticeable feature, besides their silvery-gray color, are the three thread-like tails at the tip of their abdomen. Silverfish bodies are covered with slippery, flexible scales that protect the insect from capture by larger insects, such as spiders. This body covering, and the thinness of their bodies, allows them to fit neatly within the binding edge of a closed book--so it can feed on the paste within, without being noticed until damage has been done.

silverfish in ny home

What do silverfish eat?

As mentioned, silverfish like eating books. They also will eat old photos, clothing, carpets, bedding, curtains, tapestries, shampoo, dead insects, papers in your filing cabinet, and the wallpaper paste right off your walls. However, they also enjoy regular foods such as pasta, flour, cereal, and any other starchy type of food. Because of this, they can often be found in kitchens and pantries. Their love of book bindings can make them a plague for libraries as well. If you have only a few silverfish, you may not need to worry too much, but the longer they are allowed to multiply, the more damage their growing numbers will cause. It is important to note, however, that even if you manage to starve those silverfish, they are able to survive many months without eating anything at all--only to come back later and plague you.

Do silverfish bite?

Silverfish jaws, called mandibles, are designed to scrape the food they are eating. These mandibles are not strong enough to actually bite through human skin.

Where do silverfish generally congregate inside homes?

Silverfish are able to thrive in most climates, but they prefer to stay inside dark, damp areas, such as basements, attics, kitchens and bathrooms. Sometimes silverfish are found inside sealed food packages. Since they are especially attracted to paper, and to damp clothing, they are also found in areas where there is a lot of stored paper, as well as laundry rooms or anywhere else where damp fabrics are present. Outside homes, they can be found inside stored boxes in garages or sheds.

How do silverfish reproduce?

Interestingly, silverfish actually perform love dances prior to mating. A male silverfish will then lay what's called spermatophores, which are taken into the ovipositor of a female silverfish. Depending on the species, the egg numbers and habits vary. Some species of silverfish only lay a few eggs a day, whereas other species can lay clusters of up to 20 eggs.

Where do silverfish come from?

If you are seeing silverfish inside your house, it is likely that they originated from the soil around your home. When things dry out, outside, silverfish look for a more humid environment. And, if you have gaps and cracks in your foundation or walls, silverfish will have no problem squeezing their way inside.

But dry weather isn't the only kind of weather that can drive these insects inside. Weather that is too wet will do the same thing. As the water table rises, silverfish come to the surface to avoid drowning, and may find ways into your home. If you are seeing a large number of silverfish, this could mean that you have water damage, and areas that are giving easy access to these moisture-loving pests.

How can homeowners get rid of silverfish?

If you don't already have this pest slithering around inside your home, there are measures you can take to keep them out. Sealing up the outside of your home and making sure all door sweeps and screens are in good working order are some things you can do. Also, keeping the perimeter of your home clean and dry could deter silverfish from congregating on your home and finding ways inside. But if you are already dealing with a silverfish invasion, you may want to call in a professional pest control company. The pest experts here at Parkway Pest Services are standing by to assist you with silverfish, or any other household pest that might be plaguing you. Reach out to us today for immediate assistance.


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