Silverfish are small but still able to prove themselves pests when they get into your home or building.
Biology of Silverfish
Silverfish are attracted to starches and sugars, preferring to eat natural materials, including linen, silk, and cotton. Silverfish are usually between a half of an inch and three-quarters of an inch in length. Their bodies are carrot-shaped. They are wingless insects but have three rear bristles that are long and two antennae. Given the name, it is unsurprising that adult silverfish look silver, yet they are actually metallic and gray. When they are younger, silverfish are cream or white. When silverfish move rapidly across the floor, you may not be able to see their appendages, including the legs, antennae, and rear bristles well since they are so thin. This illusion, combined with their rapid movement makes them appear to be swimming on land, hence their name. Silverfish’s movement is typically a short interval with a quick pace, then a pause followed by repeated movement.
Silverfish are nocturnal, searching for food and being active at night. In the day time, they hide in crevices and cracks, where you are unlikely to notice them. You may spot yellow stains or scales along the paths that silverfish have traveled. When it comes time to mate, male silverfish release spermatophore, a package with sperm, on the ground. The female will then pick up this spermatophore using an organ by her rear know as the ovipositor. From there, she inserts the spermatophore in her body. The sperm then leave the spermatophore so they can fertilize the female silverfish’s eggs. The eggs get laid in any crevice or crack and can take weeks or months to hatch, based on the environment. Silverfish can live as long as eight years.
Why Silverfish Are Pests
Silverfish do not carry any diseases and there is no risk of them biting you. They do, however, cause significant damage to possessions. They will eat carpet, hair, photos, paper, wallpaper, and books. They can also damage thicker materials like tapestries. Silverfish will also much on wallpaper, making a significant amount of damage over time. Other items that silverfish may damage by munching on include toothpaste, magazines, documents, clothing, baseball cards, glues, and more. While they have not been proven to spread disease, silverfish do contaminate food. The silverfish will gladly chew on paper and other natural materials, making it easy for them to access the food you have stored in your kitchen. They will be particularly interested in items like rolled oats, flour, and sugar.
Methods for Controlling Silverfish
When dealing with silverfish, it is a very good idea to get a professional to take care of the control for you. This is because these insects are hard to spot due to their coloration and size. They are also excellent at hiding in tiny places you cannot find them, including locations you would not even think of looking for them. Professionals will usually start by carefully examining your property in search of cracks and gaps that could have given the silverfish access. They will pay close attention to the outer walls and foundation.
Pest control companies will typically deal with silverfish by applying a chemical barrier. They can place this strategically around the house so that silverfish are not able to pass and enter your home. Professionals have a range of chemical pesticides that they can use to get rid of and repel silverfish. Boric acid works in certain forms, but it must be used with caution since it is dangerous for pets and children. They may also use pyrethrins, pyrethroids, or insecticides with other chemicals.
DIY Tips for How to Get Rid of Silverfish
If you think you have silverfish in your home, then you need to take steps to protect the items you care about. Keep your food items in airtight plastic containers, especially if they are originally stored in paper bags that silverfish can chew through. Store important documents in plastic folders or fully-enclosed cabinets or containers. Move your clothing out of areas you saw silverfish and do the same with books, photos, and other items you do not want to be damaged. One of the first things to do is to inspect your home to discover how the silverfish are getting in or have a professional do so for you. Then, seal up any holes or gaps that are found with caulk or liquid cement. The inspection should also include the areas around windows and doors.
Silverfish are attracted to moisture so do what you can to get rid of the moist spots in and around your home. Outside, this means removing wet mulch and leaf litter. You should also trim back overgrown vegetation. Pay close attention to the spot where your dryer vent leaves the house. Inside, check for leaks by plumbing. If interior rooms are humid, use dehumidifiers or fans to get rid of that extra moisture. As you would when dealing with any other insect, you should also regularly clean and vacuum when trying to get rid of silverfish. Doing so will get rid of any silverfish eggs. It will also remove things that may attract the insects, such as paper scraps, debris, and crumbs.
If you want, you can try to trap silverfish yourself and then remove them, but this will obviously work on just one or two insects at a time. Silverfish are unable to move along vertical surfaces that are smooth, so you can cover a glass jar’s exterior with tape to make it smooth then put bait like bread inside. In cases where homeowners prefer to avoid harsh chemicals, pros will frequently suggest diatomaceous earth, which is a natural pesticide. This powder is made from crushed fossils from diatoms, microscopic creatures. The powder works because it is abrasive, so it can remove the silverfish’s waxy coating. Without that coating, water loss occurs and the silverfish dehydrates and dies. Best of all, diatomaceous earth is non-toxic for humans although it does irritate lungs. As such, you should wear a mask if you apply it. You do not, however, want to use it if you have pets since they can inhale the dust.
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