Silverfish Information: Habits & Identification
Silverfish are small, silvery insects that thrive in humid environments. While they are capable of traveling long distances on foot, they tend to build colonies close to readily available food sources. This makes them particularly problematic in the Atlanta, Georgia region. Once they have found a source of food, they set up camp in dark, damp corners, usually in attics, old boxes, or kitchen cabinets. They are most active during the night when they will leave their nest area to feed, making it hard to manage silverfish control on your own. In addition, they can eat through wallpaper and thin wood cabinets, creating tiny visible holes. Unfortunately, the insects themselves are very fast-moving and difficult to see unless you stumble upon their nest. This makes silverfish control exceedingly difficult.
Silverfish & Firebrats
Homeowners usually see silverfish and firebrats when a cabinet door is opened, or a book or other object under which they were hiding is moved. Silverfish and firebrats are pests because they feed on a wide variety of materials, including glue, wallpaper paste, starch in clothing, book bindings, linen, rayon, paper and dried meats. Signs of their feeding are irregularly chewed patches.
Three species of silverfish and one firebrat species are found in South Carolina. Silverfish and firebrats are very similar in appearance. They have flat, wingless, elongated bodies, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long that taper from head to tail. At the head are two long antennae with three long antennae-like structures at the tail. Depending on the species, silver to gray scales cover their bodies.
Adult silverfish may live two to eight years. In a lifetime, silverfish females lay about 100 eggs. They are laid singly or a few at a time and hatch in three to six weeks. They take on the adult color in four to six weeks.
Firebrats lay about 50 eggs at a time in batches. The eggs hatch in about two weeks under warm conditions. Young silverfish and firebrats look like the adults except for being smaller and white. Depending on the species, silverfish and firebrats typically reach maturity in three to twenty-four months.
Silverfish and firebrats are active at night and hide during the day. In general, silverfish prefer damp, cool areas and can be found throughout the home. Firebrats prefer hot places, such as near ovens, fireplaces, furnaces and hot water pipes. Silverfish and firebrats are typically brought into a home in food, books, paper, starched clothing and furniture. Their populations tend to increase slowly. If a large population is present in a house, it is usually an indication of longtime infestation.
Ways to Exterminate A Silverfish Infestation
Have you seen silverfish around your property?
Have you found holes in your favourite books, or clothes?
Having a silverfish infestation is a problem in many Australian homes. Although they seem harmless, these insects feed on starchy objects, especially books and paper products. And because of their small, flat bodies, they can squeeze through any space, making it difficult to exterminate them and prevent further damage. But what are your options for eliminating them once and for all?
Decrease food sources in your property
Silverfish hangs around your property for two things: food and shelter. When you eliminate their food source, they will most likely look for other places to nest in. Do this by regularly cleaning up the floors, washing the laundry as soon as you can, and avoiding storing books on the floor as they will be easy for the silverfish to access. You may also want to store old clothing in plastic bags, keeping food in sealed plastic containers, repainting walls or adding new wallpaper, and storing storage boxes in shelves rather than placing them on the floor, causing them to catch moisture and become a breeding ground for silverfish.
Fill up the cracks and crevices where they might pass through
Because silverfish can enter through cracks and crevices in the walls, ceilings, and floors, it’s a good idea to fill them in with some caulk. Doing so will prevent them from having entryways, quick exits, and a nest to lay their eggs. Prioritise putting caulk in damp rooms such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth near where they crawl
Diatomaceous earth, a form of white powder created from algae, is highly-effective when used for silverfish. Sprinkle it on areas where silverfish might roam and you can eliminate them easily. When DE gets in contact with the silverfish, it sticks to their bodies and their waxy coating absorbs the moisture they have in their bodies, causing them to die.
Reduce your property’s humidity levels
Silverfish thrive in humid and moist areas of the property. Their favourite hiding spots are leaky pipes, wet bathrooms, and damp basements among many others. To make your home unappealing to these pests, seal out exterior cracks with caulk. You may also use a dehumidifier in your home which can reduce the overall humidity of specific areas. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, you may also keep the air conditioner on or keep the fans on for a given amount of time each day.
Silverfish Characteristics, Diet, Reproduction and Lifecycle
Silverfish are grayish-blue creatures with a teardrop-shaped body. They have three long bristles at their back and can grow up to 19mm in length. Although these insects do not pose serious harm, they are usually annoying to have around the house. They’ll eat your books, anything made of starch and sugar, your clothes, even dead skin cells, etc.
If there is a silverfish in your place and you fail to spot them early, you may have to face silverfish infestation in no time. This insect reproduces quickly, making it difficult to eradicate an infestation. Some species of female silverfish can lay up to 20 nymphs (eggs) a day, usually in crevices and cracks. The eggs are only about one mm in length so they are barely visible to our eyes. They are white and soft when first laid but become yellowish and hardens after a few hours. The eggs develop faster in a humid environment.
A silverfish can live up to three years. Just imagine the number of eggs it can lay throughout their lifetime!
When it comes to attitude, silverfish are known to be shy, reserved, and quite secretive. Because of their size and being secretive, it is difficult to spot silverfish. But just because you cannot see a silverfish around does not mean that they do not exist. They may be lurking in the cracks of your home. If you see one, there may be more. Frequently, homeowners find them when it is too late or when the insect’s population already grow exponentially.
Ways to Prevent the Silverfish from Coming Back
Whether you have already experienced having these creatures around your house or not, it pays off to know what you should do to keep them away. As the adage goes, “Why spend all your time trying to solve a problem that you would like, just avoid having in the first place?”
- Keep Your Place Clean
Prevention is always better than cure. Silverfish thrives in damp, dark, and moist areas such as under sinks, basements, bathrooms, attics, and closets. They also love the taste of wet wood and paper so you can also find them around cereal boxes, magazines, books, behind wallpaper, and along with rotting window sills. In short, they take shelter in a dirty, cluttered, and unkempt house. If you wish silverfishes to stay away from your property and your life, keep everything in your place clean. It is basic. A vibrant, spotless, and fresh place does not attract unwanted beasties.
- Declutter and Vacuum Regularly
Silverfish usually hides in and often feasts upon old books, papers, and magazines. So if there is a pile of paper in your desk, there is a high chance that you’ll meet Silverfish again. Start getting rid of stuff you do not need or haven’t looked at in for a long time. The important papers, on the other hand, should be stored in airtight bins. Aside from decluttering, it is also essential to vacuum your place at least once a week. The vacuum can suck Silverfish eggs out of the baseboard and carpet. If needed, dry out the carpets through spraying baking soda in them. Leave the baking soda in the carpet for a few hours before vacuuming. The purpose of this is to dry out the eggs. Vacuuming can also help to remove food sources which may attract silverfish.
- Light Up Dark Areas of Your House
Silverfish are nocturnal creatures so they tend to squeeze their bodies into dark and tiny spaces and gaps in your home. They hate light. Therefore, giving them what they dislike is one of the ways to keep them away. Let lots of light into areas and rooms that are predominantly dingy and dark. If you have an unused room, try installing new lighting or simply draw back curtains if there are some. The goal is to get rid of silverfish dungeons and any substantial shadows.
- Use a Dehumidifier
An environment with a constantly humid atmosphere is an ideal place for silverfish. Keeping your place dry is important in preventing silverfish from coming back. This can be a big task especially for those living in areas with the winter season. Good thing, dehumidifiers are now available. Dehumidifiers can work wonder when it comes to casting out unwelcome silverfish.
- Seal and Caulk
All those cleaning and vacuuming efforts will come to naught if you leave a small hole or an opportunity for silverfish to enter your house. To get rid of uninvited roommates forever, seal all entry points such as cracks and holes in your house specifically in your attic, basement, or any other dark, tight, and cold areas. A simple sealant or waterproof caulking will do the job. Also, ensure that there no pipework or plumbing is leaking moisture or is exposed to the outside.