Lespisma sacchrina, also known as silverfish, are small wingless insects. They are oval shaped with a flattened contour that tapers from head to end. The name silverfish is derived from the greyish-silver hue on their scaled bodies, and their fish-like tail motions while moving. Adults are about a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch long. There are three antenna-like projections located on their posterior region, and two long antennae protruding from their heads.
Silverfish are nocturnal, being more active at night or in dark places. They prefer moist environments with moderate temperatures. Although they can be found anywhere, attics, bathrooms and basements often host their climate and diet preferences. They may be found trapped in drain pipes, sinks or tub basins. Besides having an appetite for cereals, breads or other similar foods, they will also feed on books, papers and various textiles, causing significant damage to these items.
Silverfish are fast, and can cover a lot of distance in a relatively short amount of time. They will tend to stay in an area that provides their desired sources of food and environmental conditions. A female will lay up to 60 eggs in a single birthing, depositing them into small crevices. The eggs take anywhere from two weeks to two months to hatch. A typical female will lay up to 100 eggs in her lifespan. The newborn insects will become adults after three months to three years of growth. They can live up to eight years. They are white in color at first, and take on the metallic coloring of the adults after their first several periods of molting. They continually molt throughout their lifespans, sometimes up to 30 times a year.
Signs of Infestation
Infestation may begin if materials from infested areas are introduced to a new building. They may also find access into a building from the outside. Damage from silverfish may be noticeable on books, wallpaper, and fabric and/or food items. At the site of feeding, the material will have irregular patterns of damage. They may also leave yellow stains, molted skin and small flecks of feces where they populate.
Locations with excess moisture due to condensation, steam or leaking pipes should be dealt with as they create prime locations for silverfish to thrive. Ventilate these areas, or use a dehumidifier to rid these areas of unwanted moisture. Make sure to eliminate any pools of standing water.
If you are dealing with a silverfish infestation, professional extermination services will be needed. Traps or other means of elimination will only kill individual insects. They will not eliminate eggs or treat an infestation. An exterminator will be able to assess and treat an infestation problem.