Silver Fish

Silverfish are a common household pest, living and breeding in cool damp places. Silverfish eat almost anything including paper, book bindings, wallpaper and clothing. Silverfish have shiny bodies covered with scales. They are flattened, long and slender, broad at the front and tapering gradually towards the rear. They are wingless, uniform silvery in colour and grow to just over 1 cm in length.

Damage

Silverfish consume matter that contains polysaccharides, such as starches and dextrin in adhesives. These include glue, book bindings, plaster, some paints, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing and dandruff. Silverfish can also cause damage totapestries. Other substances that may be eaten include cotton, linen, silk, synthetic fibres and dead insects or even its own exuvia(moulted exoskeleton). During famine, a silverfish may even attack leatherware and synthetic fabrics. Silverfish can live for a year or more without eating

Management

Since firebrats and silverfish are nocturnal, you usually won’t see them. To detect and monitor infestations, use cockroach sticky traps. You also can use small, glass jars covered on the outside with masking tape. The insects climb up the tape, fall into the jars, and can’t climb back up the slick sides. Place these traps or jars in corners and along edges where foraging is likely. Because these insects can travel long distances while looking for food, it can be difficult to pinpoint the infestation source.

To prevent silverfish and firebrat infestations, keep basements, laundry rooms, and bathrooms-especially shower stalls-clean and dry. Household dust and debris are important sources of food, so routine cleaning will help provide effective control. In addition, periodically clean out closets, cabinets, and storage containers. Patch holes or spaces around pipes and conduits, and repair leaks and drips in plumbing. Silverfish require a lot of moisture, so using dehumidifiers in closed spaces can help discourage these pests. Ventilation from fans can reduce relative humidity to a point that is intolerable to silverfish. Because collections of magazines, papers, and books provide food and harborage, occasionally move these items around in your bookcase. Keep food in containers with tight lids, especially dry, processed items.