Silverfish are tiny, wriggly insects with a knack for getting into the cracks and crevices inside homes and quickly multiplying. Similar to cockroaches, they have hard shells. Silverfish are silver in color and have fish-like attributes. These undesirable creatures are also known as carpet sharks and paramites. They are nocturnal and are not equipped with eyes. These creatures flail similar to fishes when they walk, granting them their descriptive namesake.
silverfish under microscope
silverfish close up side view
silverfish close up top view
These wriggling insects can be found living on most continents, including North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as certain locations within the Pacific Ocean. Silverfish prefer to live in moist or wet areas where there are high levels of humidity and warmth (they commonly live in temperatures which exceed 90F). These insects seek environments which have little to no light. They can be found in urban areas within basements, garages, attics and often damp areas. Silverfish can survive up to one year without a meal.
You are most likely to see a silverfish at night, due to their nocturnal nature. These insects are active in the evening in lower levels of homes and buildings. They are usually found in basements or laundry rooms and occasionally within attics. Due to their ability to reproduce at astonishing rates, silverfish can multiply by the thousands within a single dwelling.
Life Cycle of Silverfish
Silverfish have a courtship ritual that precedes mating. This courtship ritual has three main processes: touching, turning and returning. Silverfish may initiate their courtship ritual by standing face-to-face with one another and touching their antennae together. This is then followed by a dance of sorts, in which the male is chased by the female (or sometimes vice versa). They are known to spin frantically back and forth until they are ready for the third phase, returning to one another in a state of calm.
The female may lay up to 50 fertilized eggs at one time. These microscopic eggs are barely visible to the human eye and can take up to eight weeks to hatch. The mating ritual is usually only carried out once within the life cycle of a Silverfish; a female’s first batch of eggs will be her last. In rare cases, a female will mate twice in her lifetime and produce two successful batches of offspring.
When the eggs hatch, nymphs are born. These small creatures resemble miniature versions of their parents. The nymphs go through a series of phases known as molting, which is a required process of shedding their skin to allow for their rapid growth into maturity. Molting may occur from three months old and last up to three years. The nymph stage can include as many as 70 molts (most insects usually go through no more than five). While the molting process ends for most insects when they reach adulthood, it continues on for silverfish through the duration of their lifespan. Life cycles for this creature can be as little as two years or as many as eight.
Silverfish and Humans
Silverfish are commonly found within homes. They are often found in wet or moist areas such as basements, bathrooms and areas where stagnant water may accumulate . They are sometimes found in attic spaces but prefer lower levels and are considered a pest due to their incredible reproduction rates.
These tiny creatures are not known to carry diseases, but their presence in the home is usually undesirable, which places them firmly within the pest category. Silverfish can, however, contaminate food or cause extensive damage in the home if left to populate out of control. They are notorious for eating furniture, books and other high protein or starchy items.
These little pests can have been described as the most destructive pests. Silverfish can multiply very quickly and eat everything in site. They have even been found in unopened food boxes. Read our Silverfish control for more information on exterminating these pests.
Silverfish Scientific Name: Lepisma saccharina
Silverfish belong to the Animalia kingdom under the Arthropoda phylum. They are classed as Insecta and fall under the order of Thysanura. They belong to the Lepismatideae family and are a part of the Lepisma genus. Their scientific name Lepisma saccharina is inspired by their diet and preference of sweet and starchy foods. They may also be known as bristletails, fishmoths, tasseltails or fringetails.
Silverfish behavioral traits seem to be encouraged by their food source. They will eat most anything within the home, including human food, but also furniture, wood, other insects and any items which are high in protein. They breed at an exceptionally high rate, with females able to lay up to 50 eggs at a time.