Scientific Name: L. saccharina
Lifespan: 2 to 8 years
Problem: Property damage, including book bindings, photos, and coffee.
Silverfish (L. saccharina) are silver, tapering insects whose shape, color and movements are somewhat fishlike. They are considered pests due to their sweet tooth, which drives them to consume fabrics, book-binding glues, paints and carpets containing the sweet starches their diet consists of.
The Silverfish Life Cycle
- Eggs – A female silverfish lays about 60 eggs at a time. The white, oval-shaped eggs are only .8 mm long and look like regular dust to the human eye.
- Juveniles – Juvenile silverfish molt up to 30 times a year, sometimes even eating their shed skins. They start out looking like tiny, pale versions of full-grown silverfish. As they molt, they become brownish, and begin to develop their signature silvery color after 3 moltings.
- Mature Bugs – Mature silverfish can be 13-25 mm long. They have two long antennae and three long “cerci” or sensory appendages at the ends of their tapered tails, and are wingless. They move in a wiggling motion similar to that of a fish, and continue to molt throughout their lives.
Silverfish Habitats and Habits
Indoors, silverfish are drawn to cool, damp environments such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements. This is because their young require moisture in the air to develop. The more moist, the air, the faster silverfish young grow to adulthood.
Being nocturnal insects, silverfish are rarely spotted during the day. If you do see silverfish during the day, you are probably looking at an infestation.
How to Recognize and Get Rid of a Silverfish Infestation
The following signs will help you to tell whether your home is infested with silverfish:
- Tiny black grains of excrement similar in appearance to spilled pepper
- Silverfish sightings during the day
- Damage to books and clothes
- Shed silverfish skins
The scent of cinnamon is said to repel silverfish, but does not do them any physical harm and may not be a realistic choice for homeowners. Homes that have valuable books, clothes, or other objects may need a more immediate silverfish control treatment.