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. Besides their silvery-gray color, their most noticeable feature is 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. However, it is important to note that even if you manage to starve those silverfish, they can 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 can 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 damp clothing, they are also found in areas where there is a lot of stored paper, 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 before mating. A male silverfish will then lay 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 others can lay clusters of up to 20 eggs.

Where do silverfish come from?

If you see silverfish inside your house, they likely 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 see many silverfish, this could mean that you have water damage and areas that give 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 in 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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