Silverfish

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Identification

  • Colour Brown, grey, silver
  • Size From 12 mm to 15 mm long
  • Description Wingless insects shaped like a teardrop. Their bodies are flattened, tapered at the rear, and covered with shiny, fish-like scales.
Silverfish close up

General Facts

Silverfish are wingless insects prevalent in Canada and other parts of the world. As the name suggests, silverfish often feature a silvery color and move in a manner resembling a swimming fish. Shiny, fish-like scales cover the bodies of silverfish, producing a distinctive metallic quality. Some varieties of silverfish are brown or grey rather than silver. Adult silverfish typically measure between 12 and 25 mm in length, with a flattened body tapered at the rear and shaped like a teardrop. The insects have two antennae on the head, three legs on each side of the abdomen, and three long bristles prominently extending from the tail.

Habitat

Notably elusive, silverfish are nocturnal creatures that move swiftly when disturbed to escape detection. Silverfish prefer dark, moist environments with humidity levels between 75 and 95 percent. Outdoors, silverfish primarily live under rocks, leaf mold, and tree bark. In residential buildings, common silverfish habitats include basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and attics. The insects often inhabit the cracks and crevices of walls and floors. Normally capable of moving at rapid speeds, silverfish lack the ability to climb smooth surfaces.

Diet

Silverfish are generally scavenger feeders that will eat virtually anything available. The insects, however, prefer to feed on carbohydrates and proteins. Within their natural habitat outdoors, silverfish mainly consume vegetable matter. Silverfish living among humans often eat common household items and frequently invade kitchen pantries. Despite their established dietary preferences, silverfish can survive without food for up to a year.

Reproduction

For silverfish, the reproductive process begins with an elaborate mating ritual performed between males and females. At the conclusion of the ritual, male silverfish deposit a sperm capsule that the female absorbs for fertilization. Female silverfish lay their eggs, often in small groups, within tiny cracks and crevices. The eggs typically hatch in three to six weeks. Newly hatched silverfish look like miniature adult silverfish and acquire the distinctive shiny appearance of adults within 40 days. The average female silverfish will lay up to 100 eggs during her life. Silverfish have a lifespan ranging from two to eight years.

Problems/Damage

Though small and usually hidden, silverfish can have a detrimental impact on the homes they inhabit. With a preference for carbohydrates and proteins, the insects will eat anything from flour and dried meat to glue and wallpaper. Silverfish often raid pantries for cereal, rolled oats, and other starches. The insects also consume and destroy books, magazines, and photographs. Due to the slow growth rates of silverfish populations, the presence of an infestation generally signals a longstanding problem requiring professional assistance to resolve.

 

Why do I have silverfish?

Silverfish prefer dark, moist environments with humidity levels above 75%. Outdoors, silverfish like to live under rocks, leaf mould, and tree bark. In homes, silverfish live in cracks and crevices in basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and attics.

These pests are scavengers that will eat virtually anything available, especially carbohydrates and proteins. Outdoors, they consume vegetable matter, but once indoors, they will feed on flour, dried meat, glue, wallpaper, cereal, rolled oats, and other starches.

How worried should I be about silverfish?

Silverfish can contaminate food, stain clothing, destroy books, and are generally a maddening presence in the home.

Silverfish have a slow reproduction rate but can survive without food for a year, with a lifespan of up to eight years. If you have a silverfish infestation, it is a sign of a long-term problem that requires the help of a professional pest control service.

How can I prevent silverfish invading?

Keep rooms cool, clean, and dry, Vacuum cracks and crevices frequently, Use dehumidifiers to lower humidity, Remove old papers, boxes, books, and clothes

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