Silver Fish

SILVER FISH

Silverfish is about 1/2 inch long, with a uniform silvery color over the upper surface. Their bodies are long and slender, flattened. The bodies are broad at the front, and gradually tapering toward the rear. They are covered with shiny silver scales that give the body a metallic sheen. They can be found almost anywhere, but prefer damp, moderate temperature places such as basements, laundry rooms, and under sinks.

They are frequently found in sinks or bathtubs because they fall in seeking moisture and then cannot climb out. Silverfish are most active at night and run very swiftly with a wiggling motion that resembles the swimming action of a fish.

Silverfish cause damage in homes by eating foods and other materials that are high in protein, sugar, or starch. They eat cereals, moist wheat flour, any paper on which there is glue or paste, sizing in paper and book bindings, starch in clothing, and rayon fabrics.

The females lay the eggs in crevices, on cloth, or buried in food or dust. The average clutch contains 50 eggs, but this can vary from 1 to 200. Silverfish eggs hatch in about 19 to 32 days. In colder environments eggs can remain dormant for up to 6 weeks, hatching as soon as the temperature rises.

Silverfish have very weak mandibles, or jaws, which causes them to scrape, instead of bite, the surface of paper. Page discoloration often occurs because of the fungi associated with their feeding damage. On paper and fabrics feeding usually begins in one area and spreads as unconnected, irregularly shaped holes. Damage to these items is significant, however, only in cases of very large infestations present over long periods of time.

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