Silverfish are wingless insects that belong to the Thysanura order. Its common name comes from its fish-like shape and metallic, silvery appearance. They prefer dark moist conditions and can be found commonly in basements, bathrooms, toilets and kitchens. They are a nuisance pest and feed on starchy food high in carbohydrate. Dextrin, a carbohydrate found in glues used to bind books is often targeted by silverfish, which can cause significant damage to a library, if the infestation is large.
SILVERFISH (Lepisma sacharina)
The silverfish grows up to about 12mm in length, has a silvery appearance, six legs and three long bristles at the rear end of its body. Silverfish are wingless insects that move across surfaces in a fish-like manner.
BIOLOGY & BEHAVIOUR:
Before females reproduce, they go through unusual mating ritual that consists of three distinct stages. Firstly the male and female face each other, with their antennae quivering against the others. In the second stage, the male runs away and the female chases. Lastly, they stand side-by-side with the male vibrating its tail against the females. The male then lays a sperm capsule that the female takes into her body via her ovipositor to fertilise the eggs.
The female silverfish lays fewer than 60 eggs at a time, which hatch out after about 3 weeks. The young silverfish take around 3 months to reach adulthood, and may then survive for up to 2 or 3 years.
They live in dark, damp areas at floor level, often in basements, bathrooms and kitchens. They have a very broad diet, feeding on starchy, sweet or mouldy foodstuffs, such as breadcrumbs, dried food waste, dead insects or general organic debris.
VISUAL SIGHTINGS – The most common sign of an infestation is seeing small, silvery insects on the floor or on kitchen work-surfaces, scuttling for cover when the light is suddenly turned on at night. Individuals may also be sometimes found trapped in saucepans, shower-trays or other containers.
Silverfish are a minor nuisance, being seen around the home and feeding on any human food left out overnight.
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