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5 silverfish facts you should know


Silverfish, technically known by the scientific name Lepisma saccharina, are true pest insects that you’ve very likely seen inside your home at some point. You may have spotted these little silvery-colored insects scurrying along the bathtub, up the walls, around the laundry room or basement floor. You can find silverfish just about anywhere there’s moisture. 

While there are a lot of insects that can infest homes, from cockroaches to spiders to termites, silverfish are particularly annoying because of what they eat – which is just about everything. They are hard-bodied, very fast and hard to get rid of.

Of course, if you are finding silverfish around your home then contact the pest control experts at Ehrlich and we can help you get rid of them and advise on ways to keep them out.

Here are 5 things you should know about silverfish:

1. Silverfish are insects and not actually fish

Silverfish get the name because of several factors:

  1. They are silvery-blue in color, much like the scales of a fish.

  2. They move side-to-side when they move and that movement looks a lot like a fishtail when they are swimming through the water.

  3. They tend to like moist areas. That’s why you find them near drains, in sinks, bathrooms, damp basements and laundry rooms.

Silverfish have long antennae on their heads and usually three appendages on their hind end. They also have two compound eyes, which separates them from their relatives in some parts of the world — eyeless and found mostly in the wild. They have no wings but do have six legs in the middle of their body that help them run very quickly along horizontal surfaces.

2. Silverfish are nocturnal

You are more likely to find silverfish in your home at night. That’s why you most likely find them in the bathtub or sink when you head into the bathroom and turn on the light at night. Silverfish prefer the dark when they seek out food since those compound eyes are sensitive to light. They can feel their way along using their very sensitive antenna.


3. Silverfish eat starches

If you are finding holes in clothing, books and other fabrics, you may have been wondering if you have a pest infestation. Is it moths? Well, it might very well be silverfish.

Silverfish are not predators and do not eat other insects. They require starches to survive and their bodies need carbohydrates and protein to survive. Silverfish seek out substances high in both of these. That means they will eat fabric, clothing, paper, glue, carpeting, hair, photos, plaster, wallpaper and other materials. If you open a book and find that the pages have holes and look half-eaten, you may very well have silverfish infesting your home.

During times of extreme famine, when they really need to find food, silverfish have even been known to eat leather. The hardy insects will also go right for sugary foods if they can find them.

Silverfish are destructive, but they are not venomous and they are not known to be carriers of any disease. They may be unpleasant, but at least they aren’t dangerous.

4. Silverfish have been around for a LONG time

Silverfish are believed to be one of the oldest and most primitive insects alive on planet Earth. Fossils of silverfish have been traced back as far as the Paleozoic Era. It is thought by some scientists that silverfish and their cousins, the Bristletail, go back over 400 million years.

5. Silverfish can run very fast

Since silverfish do not have fangs and do not carry any venom, they really have no defense against predators. They cannot fight back. That means their only means of defense is their speed. Their size means that they might not be able to entirely outrun a human, but they have been known to even outrun centipedes and wandering spiders, both active hunters known to move quickly.

The one caveat is that silverfish are only that fast when running horizontally. They have no additional appendages that let them move fast vertically. Silverfish may be able to run up a wall, but they will not be as quick and are easier to catch. However, give the pests a straight track upon which to run and they might as well be tiny thoroughbreds.

Get rid of silverfish

Don’t deal with a silverfish infestation on your own. If you have been seeing the pests around your home, contact the experts in pest control at Ehrlich. We can help you get rid of silverfish and offer advice on preventing them from returning, too.

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