The Latin name for silverfish, Lepisma saccharina, translates to "sugar eater". It was chosen because silverfish tend to eat starchy foods high in carbohydrates and protein. The insect's common name comes from the insect's distinctive metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movement. They are commonly found feeding on books or book bindings, but may also eat loose paper, photographs, sugar, coffee, hair, carpeting, flour, dried meat, rolled oats and clothing, especially if it has been starched. They are nocturnal and can survive in most climates, but prefer high humidity (75% to 90%) and warm temperatures (70-80° F).

Silverfish Life Cycle:

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 ready to hatch in anywhere from 2 weeks to two months after being laid. Silverfish have variable life cycle lengths and can reach adulthood as shortly as three months after hatching; however, they have been known to take up to three years to reach adulthood.

Silverfish Control:

Take preemptive action around your home or area you would wish to achieve control. Below are some methods of preventing silverfish from becoming a problem.

  • Clean closets regularly to remove areas they use for feeding and egg-laying.
  • Vacuum regularly and clean up spilled food or drink immediately.
  • Inspect any items brought into the home, especially those that have been in storage, to avoid unwanted incursions.
  • Remove old books, magazines, fabrics and other possible food sources. Store books or fabrics in sealed plastic containers.
  • Reduce humidity by using air conditioning units, fans and/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 where silverfish are likely to be active. Look for products with active ingredients like d-Limonene (Orange Guard, Safer Ant & Roach Killer), Clove Oil and Thyme Oil (Essentria G), Boric Acid, or Diatomaceous Earth for fast, economical and efficient control.

See more products for indoor pests in our Home Pest Control section.

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