The scientific name given to Lepisma saccharina translates as "sugar eater". It was chosen because silverfish tend to eat starchy foods high in carbohydrates and protein such as dextrin in glues.
The insect's common name comes from the insect's distinctive metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movement. They commonly feed on books or book bindings, but may also eat paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, flour, dried meat, rolled oats and clothing, especially if it has been starched. They are nocturnal and require high humidity (75% to 90%) and temperatures between 70-80° F to survive.
Life Cycle of the Silverfish
The female silverfish deposits eggs continuously after reaching the adult stage and may deposit more than 100 eggs during her life. Eggs are deposited singly or in small groups in cracks and crevices and hatch in 3 to 4 weeks. Silverfish develop from egg to adult within 4 to 6 weeks and continue to molt throughout their life. They live approximately two – 3 years but have been known to live for up to eight years. They can go as long as a year without eating.
- Clean closets regularly to remove areas they use for safe harbor.
- Vacuum regularly.
- Clean up spilled food or drink immediately.
- Inspect any items brought into the home, especially those that have been in storage, to avoid an infestation.
- Remove old books, magazines and newspapers.
- Store books or fabrics in sealed plastic containers.
- Reduce humidity by using air conditioning units, fans or dehumidifiers.
- Repair any plumbing leaks to cut off water sources for these insects.
Insecticide treatments should target areas such as cracks and crevices, around baseboards, closets and attics. Use products with natural active ingredients: d-Limonene, Clove Oil, Thyme Oil, Boric Acid or Diatomaceous Earth. Try products such as Orange Guard, EcoPCO ACU, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (Safer Ant & Crawling Insect Killer, JT Eaton Kills Bedbugs and Crawling Insects Powder) for fast, economical and efficient control. Use JT Eaton Answer® Boric Acid as bait in the same way.
See more products for indoor pests in our Cockroaches and Other Indoor Pests section.