Despite being one of the most common and widespread pests around, most people don’t know much about silverfish. This lack of public knowledge often makes silverfish seem like a scarier pest than they are. That said, it’s not difficult to understand why you might be frightened of the weird little things. Silverfish don’t look like common pest insects. In fact, they don’t look like insects at all!
Silverfish are definitely strange insects. They look like shrimp or crustaceans, and they’re distressingly fast. Although they’re not dangerous, they’re also not much fun to have around. You shouldn’t necessarily panic when you see one, but you should do something about it. Here’s what you can do. This is everything you should know about the creepy crawlers, including how to keep them out of your home.
What are silverfish?
“Silverfish” is frequently used to refer to several different species in the Zygentoma order of insects. It’s also the common name of one specific species of insect: the Lepisma saccharina. If you have silverfish in your home, chances are they’re Lepisma saccharina. Silverfish are small, wingless insects with six legs, silver or grey coloration, long antennae, and bristles on their tails. They’re typically no longer than ½ an inch long, though their appendages are often almost as long as their bodies.
The name refers to two of the insects’ highly distinctive characteristics. First, their bodies are covered in shiny, almost metallic looking scale-like segments. Second, the insect moves in a distinctive, back-and-forth manner, which make them look like fish swimming. Silverfish move very quickly when discovered, and many homeowners mistake them for cockroaches at first. The pests are also sometimes called “bristletails” because of the three long, bristle-covered appendages on their posterior end.
What do silverfish want?
Silverfish are nocturnal insects. They spend days hiding and come out to forage for food at night. They prefer environments that are 70 to 80℉, and have 75 to 95% relative humidity. Usually, the insect spends most of its time hiding in dark, cramped areas where they can remain warm, hydrated, and unnoticed. These dark, warm, humid hiding places should be near a food source they can consume at night. Once silverfish find a good food source, they’ll almost only move from food to shelter and back.
Silverfish are general feeders and consume a wide variety of materials. They’ll feed on anything that contains starch, protein, or sugar–not just food items. Silverfish are known to feed on starchy materials like wood and paper, especially glazed paper. They also feed on glue, linens, silk, cotton, and more traditional food products like cereal and vegetables. All kinds of household items may be food for the insect, including books, wallpaper, bed sheets, clothing, carpet, and furniture.
Where do silverfish come from?
The Lepisma saccharina is a common indoor pest all over the United States. They usually get into homes one of two ways: they sneak in themselves, or homeowners inadvertently transport them inside. Silverfish are naturally attracted to homes as sources of food, shelter, moisture, and darkness. They often follow utility lines like plumbing pipes through cracks in walls and into homes. They also might follow a cool draft and squeeze through a small opening near a window frame.
Unfortunately, silverfish are also often transported into homes by unsuspecting homeowners. The pests frequently feed on several materials used in moving, such as packing peanuts or cardboard. During the day, they hide on or inside their food sources. When people move these hiding places into their homes, they take the silverfish inside, too. Once inside, silverfish generally seek out the most secluded, dark, humid places in a home. You’ll usually encounter them in basements, crawl spaces, attics, closets, or laundry rooms.
How can I keep silverfish out?
Silverfish need humidity to stay active, or they’ll dry out and die. Look for parts of your home with high humidity and figure out why it’s happening. Patch up drafts and reinforce worn insulation. Fix sources of moisture accumulation like leaking plumbing, condensation, or puddles. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for problematic areas like your basement. Deprive silverfish of likely hiding places, like clutter or stray boxes. You probably can’t keep all their food away from them, but you can make it harder to access safely.
Next, try to figure out how silverfish entered your home. Look for gaps along window and door frames, baseboard walls, floors, and near utility lines. Silverfish don’t need very much space to squeeze into a home. If you can see it they can use it. Patch up these gaps with caulk. Replace old or damaged windows and doors. Don’t leave anything leaning up against the side of your home for silverfish to climb on. Finally, be careful when bringing possible silverfish hideouts into your home. Check the bottom, sides, and insides of moving boxes and bags before you bring them inside.
Perhaps the worst thing about silverfish is their long lifespans. A single generation of silverfish can live for several years, and young silverfish grow up fast. Unfortunately, that means if you don’t deal with a silverfish infestation right away, it’s only going to get worse.
If you need help dealing with that infestation, or any other infestation for that matter, give Griffin Pest Solutions a call today. We offer silverfish exclusion and elimination services guaranteed to keep the insidious insect away from you for good.