Silverfish | A Guide to an Ancient Insect Found in Your Home

What if we told you that one of the most common pests found in your Sacramento home actually survived the mass extinction events that took down the T-rex and its fellow dinosaurs? Well, there is an insect that has been on this earth for over 400 million years and is not easily removed. Let us introduce the Silverfish:

Silverfish | A Guide to an Ancient Insect Found in Your Home

What is a Silverfish?

Silverfish are small wingless insects that are common household pests found in places like Elk Grove, Sacramento, and Roseville. Silverfish are not fish, but their name originates from their fish-like appearance and movement. Silverfish can live for up to 8 years and due to their reproduction rates, they can quickly become a major pest problem if left unattended.

What does a Silverfish look like?

The Silverfish is small, usually between half an inch to a full inch in length. As their name suggests they are silver-gray in color, with a metallic shine as they get older. Their bodies become thinner towards the end, further highlighting their fish-like appearance.   They have two long cerci protruding from their abdomen which are used as sensory organs, and a set of eyes unusual for the Zygentoma class of insects. Their compound eyes are very sensitive to light which is why they prefer operating nocturnally.

What do Silverfish Eat?

Silverfish survive in your home with a variety of food sources. They thrive on sugary foods and cellulose but will also pry on dead insects, paper, linen, silk, and cotton. If left undisturbed Silverfish can do damage to your home which makes them a nuisance of a household pest. They will eat your wallpaper, curtains, upholstery, and any unattended foods left out in the open. Weirdly enough they like glue as well, so the bindings on your books are a delicacy for them.

What do Silverfish Eggs look like?

Silverfish eggs are usually laid in clusters of one to twenty at a time. Initially, they are soft and white in appearance but after a few hours of reacting with the oxygen, they will turn a shade of yellow. The measure only 1 mm in length and are more oval-shaped than spherical.

Where do you find Silverfish Eggs in your home?

Silverfish are very good at keeping hidden when it comes to infesting your home. This is especially true when it comes to their eggs. The female Silverfish will lay eggs in the tiny crevices in your wall or floor that are completely out of sight. This is for protection from human interaction, or their natural predators like spiders, other silverfish, and many more. Silverfish prefer to live in dark and damp places where they won’t be disturbed, so storage boxes and old furniture stored in basements or the attic make perfect living quarters.

What are the signs of a Silverfish Infestation?

Silverfish are incredibly quick insects. It is their strongest form of defense and since they are primarily nocturnal creatures spotting one in action can be rare. They are masters at remaining unnoticed but there are other signs that you could have a Silverfish infestation.

Silverfish Damage

A telltale sign of a hidden Silverfish infestation is the damage to your books, magazines, upholstery, wallpaper, storage boxes, and clothes. It will appear as small holes that look eaten away. They will also leave dark stains in the items that they eat.

Silverfish Droppings

Another telltale sign, although much harder to notice due to the size. But they are black almost like peppercorn like pellets. If you find similar droppings in your home, it is best to call a pest control expert to properly identify the pest.

Silverfish Shed Skin

When going through the nymph stage in their lifecycle the Silverfish will shed its skin and leave behind an exoskeleton. At this stage, they are only small so noticing shallow skins is difficult. Also, depending on the food sources available to it, there is a good chance that they will eat their own shedding to keep fed.

What Eats Silverfish?

Spiders, earwigs, and centipedes will hunt down and consume Silverfish if they can catch them. In previous posts about spiders, we have mentioned that they are incredibly good pest control insects, as long as they are not dangerous to humans. The Silverfish has an advantage over many of these predators because of their sheer speed and agility.

Are Silverfish Dangerous?

No, Silverfish are not dangerous to humans. They do not have fangs or carry any venom and are not known to carry any diseases. But they do inflict significant damage to property so having them present in your home is never a good thing.

Fun Facts About Silverfish

  • They are incredibly quick insects, but their speed declines rapidly when scaling vertical surfaces such as walls. If a spider is in pursuit and forces it up a wall it is game over for the little fish moths!
  • They are ancient insects. They have been known to predate even the dinosaurs by 100 million years which has allowed them to build up a natural tolerance to destructive elements, including pesticides.
  • They eat their own exoskeleton if food sources are in low supply. Gross.
  • They can live up to a year without eating at all.
  • They have a high vertical jump if they feel cornered. They have been known to jump as high as two feet. Although this doesn’t compare to the flea in terms of athleticism.

How do Silverfish Mate?

Adults have an interesting courtship in which males attract females with a mating dance that includes antennae contact and head wagging, after which the male deposits a protected capsule containing sperm for the female to pick up. To keep the capsule from drying out, males often will lay it on a moist surface, so it is common to see adult insects clustered around damp areas when mating. Firebrats and silverfish tend to crowd together in a central hiding place during the day to rest, and it is here where the females often lay their eggs. Both sexes produce pheromones, or chemicals, that initiate these aggregations, and when these insects crowd together, it helps regulate the temperature and humidity around the eggs and young nymphs.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish in your Home?

Silverfish can be quite difficult to evict from your home. They are masters at staying out of sight and due to their high reproduction levels, they can quickly get out of hand and spread exponentially in every room. As they have been around for so long on earth they have built a natural tolerance for many insecticides and other home remedy pest control methods. Hiring an experienced pest control company to take care of a Silverfish infestation is your safest plan. At Pegasus Pest Control we have the knowledge and expertise to correctly identify the pest problem and know exactly where to look to fully rid your home of Silverfish. Call us toll-free at (888) 885-5017 or submit an online contact form to set up a free pest inspection!