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Silverfish are widely considered one of the creepiest insect pests we treat after cockroaches (of course). Silverfish are a nocturnal silver grey insect shaped a bit like a parsnip and are known for their destructive habits. If they have invaded your home or business they can damage old books, wallpaper, damp clothing and plaster- so it is important if you notice one of these wiggling around your property you call in one of our professionals from Defender Pest Control!

Signs of a Silverfish Infestation

Due to their nocturnal nature, it can often be difficult to tell if you have an infestation as the easiest way to tell if you have a problem on your hands is witnessing their presence. Below we list some of the most common tell-tale signs that silverfish have invaded your property:

  • Around bathtubs and sinks you may see silverfish that are trapped and struggling to go back to their nest.
  • They may be found burrowing in unsealed dried packets of food.
  • There may be yellow stains on your clothing and other synthetic fabrics.
  • There may be damage to your books, photographs, papers, and wallpaper. This is normally recognised by small holes/notches on the items (these are known as feeding marks).

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Due to their nocturnal nature, speed, and impressive ability to hide it can often be difficult to initially spot a silverfish infestation and effectively treat it. As with most pests best practice is to call in the professionals if you want a prompt and permanent solution to eliminate any problem especially silverfish. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent a silverfish infestation:

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Silverfish Biology

Silverfish are a silver grey blue wingless insect around 12mm in length. They have a long antenna and a body that is covered in tiny scales like a fish! They are sometimes referred to as fish moths and carpet sharks.

Silverfish are nocturnal insects and tend to inhabit damp areas of your property such as kitchens and bathrooms. Silverfish can survive in a wide range of environments but prefer dark and humid spaces. They move incredibly quickly, and their movements replicate a wiggling motion alike to a fish.

Silverfish are often feared due to their appearance, but they are not known to bite or be poisonous. However, they can cause allergic reactions for some people especially those with sensitive skin. These allergic reactions are triggered when silverfish shed their skins and tiny particles are left behind which mix with dust in the air and create a substance that irritates the skin.

There are around 120 species of silverfish worldwide and each have different reproduction habits- some lay one egg a day and others can lay a cluster of eggs a day ranging from 2-20 in total (they cannot lay more than 60 eggs at one time and will only lay on average 100 eggs in their whole lifetime.) They lay their eggs in cracks and crevices. Silverfish nymphs are white in colour and just look like miniature versions of their elders- just with a smaller antenna.

Silverfish are part of the Apterygote classification alongside bristle backs and firebrats. They are sometimes confused with firebrats, but firebrats have a flatter speckled appearance and are not as metallic- they also favour hotter/ dryer environments.

Silverfish are closely related to the Rhyniognatha which is the oldest known insect. It is believed that silverfish are among some of the first insects to conquer the land and there is fossil evidence of their existence dating back more than 140 million years ago!

Silverfish can survive for up to 5 years and are known to survive for many weeks without water and up to a year without food!

Silverfish have a diet that is based on sugars and carbohydrates, they are known to feed on glue from book bindings, wallpaper paste, insulation, cardboard, and emulsion from photographs. They are also known to feed on clothing, fallen human hair and any fallen/injured insects.

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