Silverfish Control DinningtonThe silverfish belongs to a family of insects which have probably been in existence for around 300 million years. The silverfish, like certain other insects, has remained unchanged for many thousands of years. It is more than likely that some form of this insect was present when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and their presence is still with us today. This insect is widely distributed and found in just about every location.


Silverfish are wingless and are shining grey in colour, they are torpedo shaped with long antennae. Three long bristles at the end of the abdomen make them easy to identify. The Silverfish which is closely related to a similar insect called the 'firebrat' is normally about 10mm in length. In warmer climates it may be found out in the open, but in Britain they are associated with human habitations. Silverfish prefer dark, moist warm conditions and are sometimes found in bathrooms and kitchens and areas of high humidity. They thrive on the tiniest scraps of food, preferring starchy foods such as bread and flour.

Life cycle

The female lays her eggs in batches of about one hundred eggs, and deposits them in cracks and crevices. These are oval in shape and are about 1 mm in size, initially white and smooth but later turning brown. Unlike many other insects silverfish continue to moult throughout their life, thus regenerating organs such as legs which have been accidentally lost. The eggs on average take a month to hatch, in order for this to occur a certain amount of humidity needs to be present. The young take around three months to develop into adults. The adult Silverfish can live for up to four years if conditions are favourable

  • Eggs are laid in batches of about one hundred eggs in cracks and crevices.
  • These are oval in shape and are about 1mm in size - white and smooth.
  • Eggs take an average of one month to hatch in humid conditions.
  • The young nymphs take about three months to develop into adults.
  • They continue to molt throughout their life, regenerating lost legs etc.
  • Silverfish can live for up to four years if conditions are favourable.

Reason for control

Silverfish cause little real damage, they feed on carbohydrate substances and starch and therefore can digest cellulose. They will normally thrive on such things as wallpaper paste where it has become damp, or the seams of old books, though they also enjoy a little protein from scraps of meat and any dead insects they may come across. On occasions they have been known to do limited damage to book bindings, old stamp collections and to bite holes in linen and cotton items, but on the whole are generally a pleasant insect.

Control measures

Silverfish can sometimes prove to be a difficult insect to eradicate completely, especially in older properties where they may have been present for many years. Damp and run down conditions make a good breeding ground for these insects. Because they are occasionally localised to a particular area it is worth exploring their habitats to see if you if can make conditions less favourable. A general insect killer aerosol spray may prove useful to have around provided it is used in accordance with directions given; these can be obtained from most D.I.Y. outlets. Food establishments should seek professional help where insects are present.

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