Silverfish are not fish, they are actually insects. They can be destructive in their own little way as well. This article is a brief guide on what they are, the harm they do, and how to eliminate them.
Silverfish are a wonderful misnomer. They are neither silver, nor are they fish! Only some of them might appear silver at a particular stage in their life, and that too when light falls on them. In reality, they are insects – arthropods to be specific, just like cockroaches and crabs. Biologically, they are called Lepisma saccharina (the saccharina in their name is an allusion to their diet, which is mainly carbohydrate sugars). They are barely 1 to 2 cm in length.
You can find silverfish in your home wherever there are cracks, humidity, and their kind of food present. Bathrooms have all these conditions, and so typically you will find silverfish there. These are found mostly near things like tissue paper, towels, and even foams and shampoos, since they all contain different types of carbohydrates in them. When food is scarce in the bathrooms, they might make their exodus in other parts of the house where they may feed on paper, clothes, and even leather. The damage done by these silverfish is seen in the form of tiny holes in the material they have gnawed on.
Though silverfish may cause material destruction, there are no health issues related with them. They can sting, but the sting is only mildly irritating, and with no long-term effects. As it is, these insects are relatively harmless.
It is interesting to know the reproductive cycle of the silverfish. They exhibit external reproduction, which is quite unique. The male first releases his gamete into a little capsule which is coated with gossamer. This is then fertilized by the female to make an egg. In this manner, it is not necessary for the male and the female to come together for producing offspring. Resultantly, their populations can grow to alarming levels very fast. Quite unsurprisingly then, silverfish have been around for about 300 million years.
A Household Nuisance
Silverfish are found in almost all homes around the world, in the bathrooms and kitchens, where there is dampness and crevices for them to stay. Though they do not do much harm (at least not as much as cockroaches, mosquitoes, and flies), they are disgusting to look at and do speak of poor hygienic conditions. That is the reason why removal of these insects is a must.
Due to the presence of their favorite carbohydrate foods, you will also find silverfish in basements, attics, in rooms that have been closed for a while, closets, bookshelves, behind the wallpaper, under the carpets, and in such areas. They do not like much sunlight, so expect to find them in dark, musty places. They are also commonly found in libraries and junkyards.
Silverfish are quite visually evident when they are present, but they do scuttle quickly when their hiding place is exposed. There are a few indications to find out about their presence. Finding their molted skins is one of them. If your paper and clothes seem to have tiny neat holes, or your fabrics have yellow stains on them, then you have a silverfish infestation at home. You can trap them with glass containers, because they cannot climb those surfaces, and then exterminate them individually.
You can try these methods in order to keep silverfish away.
- Fill up all the crevices in your bathroom and other damp places of the house. You can get filling materials which are toxic to all insects. These do well in keeping the silverfish away, and killing those that are already present.
- Do not allow moisture to retain in the bathroom. Install an exhaust fan and keep the bathroom doors open occasionally, especially after a bath.
- Do not let your shampoo bottles, etc. drip their contents. Cap them securely.
- Regularly clean your bathroom walls. Cleanliness intimidates all insects and keeps them away.
Silverfish are not harmful, but an infestation can prove to be damaging to the things in your house. Follow the instructions and take care so as not to have a large population of these insects in your house.