Silver Fish
Scientific Name:Lepisma saccharina
Length:12 to 19 mm
Color:White, brown-grey, or bluish-silver
What Are Silverfish?
Silverfish are insects which are small and silverish/gray in color with scaled type skin. You can only see the scales if you look real close. The lower part of their body, or abdomen tapers off, similar to a fish’s lower body. They do not have wings, which adds more to the fish appearance. They also move a lot like a fish with their wobbly motions, swaying as they go forward crawling on the ground.

Silverfish can run and move very fast. Some of their predators include centipedes and spiders. Believe it or not, the silverfish are so quick they can usually outrun these, but only on flat surfaces.

It is very common to find silverfish around your house in damp moist places such as under your kitchen sink, or in your basement. They are from the scientific order” Zygentoma” and their scientific name is “L.Saccharina”. Silverfish eat mainly carbohydrates, but can gnaw on natural fibers such as silk or cotton clothes. They also like cardboard and paper.

Silverfish are usually about ½ inch to 1 inch long. When they first hatch from eggs they are a whitish color, but gradually start taking on the silver/gray appearance of the adult.

Silverfish have compound eyes which are typical of many insects and crustaceans. Some from the order of “Zygentoma” have no eyes at all, but all silverfish do, thank goodness. Silverfish try to stay away from light because they don’t like it and are most active in the night time hours.

Where Do Silverfish Live?
Silverfish commonly live in your house in moist darkened areas. They can survive in most climates, but prefer humid and fairly warm places like under your kitchen sink. They live in your kitchen, your bathroom, and basement. They also live anywhere in your home, such as behind the baseboards, or in storage areas.

If you have a storage area that is prone to moisture, with old cardboard boxes of clothing, you will most certainly find silverfish there. Garages are also a favorite of silverfish as they love scurrying around in darkened wet corners, especially on dampened cement. If they are hanging out in your bathroom, they prefer the wet clothes in your clothes hamper.

Sometimes silverfish will even make it into an unopened package of food, as they love the cardboard container, and if the contents are carbohydrates they will be in heaven. Silverfish love sugar and starch in addition to natural fibers. Many think that unwashed dishes are a lure for cock roaches and mice, but silverfish are also attracted. A silverfish loves a messy kitchen with leaking pipes.

All insects are attracted by potential feeding areas, and really like older houses, especially if any of the wood is weakened or rotted. You can also find silverfish living in your attic, in vents, and in crawl spaces under your house. A Silverfish can live anywhere from the top of your home to the bottom of your home, and in any damp, moist, and darkened place.

Where Are Common Hiding Places For Silverfish?
Professional pest control services know all of the common hiding places for silverfish and most any insect or rodent that are giving you problems. Silverfish are little tiny, almost tear dropped shaped insects. They are nocturnal (awake at night) which means you might not see them as much as the ants in your home and other insects. Occasionally in the day as you open the door beneath your kitchen sink, you might see some scurrying quickly across your damp baseboard.

Silverfish can move very fast, but only horizontally. They cannot maintain speed if they are climbing up a wall. Silverfish do not like light. This could be a problem because you don’t get to see the full amount of silverfish that you actually have, as they are all hiding in the day. At times as they hide in moist and damp areas, they might be out of sight then, as possibly you are not even seeing how bad the moisture problem is in your house. Moisture attracts all kinds of insects, such as crickets.

Crickets attract scorpions. Crickets are also night time creatures, but unlike the silverfish, they make noise (the male cricket chirps at night to let you know he is there). Moisture can be a real problem for you and you might be breeding more insects than you realize. With the hiding habits of the silverfish you could have an infestation and not be aware of it. If you see even a few silverfish, you should be concerned and hire a pest control company to flush them from their hiding places to prevent infestation, if you don’t already have one.

What Kinds of Silverfish Live in My Area?
The silverfish in Arizona are from the order of “Zygentoma” carrying the scientific name of “L.Saccharina”. There is not really more than one variety of silverfish in the United States. The one that we commonly know that is silver/gray and found in many areas of our homes is the same one found in different parts of America. There are two other species in the United States which go by the name of “Silverfish”. These are as following.

• “Ctenolepisma Uadriseriata”
• “Ctenolepisa Longicaudata”

While silverfish live in practically any climate, they prefer the dark, moist, and unattended areas of our home. Elsewhere in the United States they seem to congregate in basement areas, and anywhere else that moisture and high humidity is a problem.

In Arizona where attics are often employed as a storage area for clothing, old yearbooks, and other natural fibers, silverfish have become an increased problem. They like to chew these things mentioned up along with the crickets working beside them in your attic. They not only chew holes in things cherished by you, but they attract spiders and scorpions who like to use them as food sources. This is a double reason to have your house and attic checked out by a pest specialist. You just might need an exterminator or other preventive measures to free your home or business from these pests.

These creepy crawly insects also like to hang out in your bathrooms, kitchen, and crawl spaces. Whatever area in Arizona that you may live in, if you have a problem with dampness, or moisture, you most likely have silverfish.

What Damage Can Silverfish Inflict On You And Your Home?

Silverfish can attract poisonous spiders such as the “Black Widow” and “Brown Recluse” which can inflict damage on you. Silverfish are like crickets if you have ever had them before invading your house. Perhaps you do, because they like the same moist environments and both are nocturnal. Crickets attract scorpions which can be harmful to you, especially the “Brown Bark Scorpion”. Why breed all of these little insects in your house that are actually prey for the more dangerous insects? People can also be allergic to silverfish.

Silverfish, like crickets, love eating natural fibers such as your clothing made of silk or cotton. These often get left laying on the damp bathroom floor after a quick shower, or tossed into the laundry hamper still wet. They also like getting into your kitchen area where you might have paper sacks, and damp cardboard in a dark corner cabinet for them to gnaw on.

A place silverfish really loves might be your basement, where they can find stored items left to mildew in cardboard boxes. This way they will get a double bonus of old cardboard with a mixture of dampened old clothes put away in storage practically forgotten about. What a feast for the little critters, indeed. Something they don’t like is camphor oil. It is suggested if you pack away clothing or such, make sure it is dry and tuck a few camphor types of sachet in with it as a detriment in an effort to eliminate even the least damage that silverfish can inflict upon your home and belongings.

What Do I Do If I Was Bitten/Stung By Silverfish?

Silverfish do not have stingers, and though they do have mouths that chew up naturals fibers around the house they don’t bite humans on the average. Their mouth is not large enough or strong enough for this. Silverfish are often confused with “earwigs” as they look kind of alike and have a lot of similarities as far as size and other features. Some people even think upon a quick glance that silverfish are centipedes, which do bite. Some people are allergic to silverfish.

One thing about the silverfish is you don’t have to worry about it biting you like a mosquito and catching a disease from it. “Earwigs” have a pincher and can inflict a painful pinch. “Earwigs” also bite, but silverfish do not on the average. Many think they are infested by silverfish only to have a pest control expert come out to find they are actually “Earwigs”.

The best way to correctly identify a pest that is bothering you in someway is to seek the advice of a professionally trained expert in such matters.

Another problem with having a myriad of small insects infesting your house is that they can be food for some dangerous spiders such as “Brown Recluses” and “Black Widows”. If you are having problems with a certain kind of pest, even though they might be related to the dampness in your house, it is probably certain that you have other insects and spiders too. Crickets, who also like damp areas, attract scorpions. Scorpions do inflict harm to a human, especially the “Brown Bark Scorpion”. Silverfish cannot sting humans and most likely will not bite.

Are Silverfish Dangerous For My Pets?
Silverfish are not really dangerous for your pets, even though they aren’t that enjoyable to look at. Some think they look like centipedes at a quick glance and centipedes can give a painful bite, depending upon it’s size.

Pets often try to eat insects, sometimes they just play with them. It probably isn’t a good idea to eat too many insects of any sort, even though silverfish do not have a hard covering, and would be easy to digest. Insects with a hard covering can cause an intestinal blockage, or the hard pieces of them can stick in their mouths, or get stuck in the dog’s throat just like a piece of sharp popcorn “hull”. Silverfish do not pose any of these dangers if ingested. It is virtually unheard of for silverfish to carry diseases.

The areas they like to hang around in (dark, moist and humid) could certainly breed germs, viruses, and produce mold. A lot of disease carrying insects might find the living conditions of the silverfish inviting, such as mosquitoes. Smaller insects also attract spiders, some of which could be poisonous. Crickets like the same environment as silverfish, and they attract scorpions.

The silverfish, just like the cricket, can be dangerous for your pet’s prized photo as they love chewing up paper and cardboard. They can also go for the pet’s bedding, especially if it is kept damp and dirty. Silverfish are not really dangerous for your pets, but the conditions that they live in are.

How Do You Prevent Silverfish From Invading Your Environment?

The best way, always, to prevent silverfish from invading your environment is to seek the advice of a professional pest control service. Houses with high humidity, especially ones that are sealed off, and have an existing population of silverfish are asking for an infestation. At this point you would be past “friendly advice” and need an extermination.

In order to dehumidify a house or business you would almost need one in every room, including the basement. Attics have also been known to get silverfish, so the attic would be no exception. The dehumidifiers go by square footage. In a full basement, which might cover the whole house’s floor plan, you would need at least a 65 pint one. It would cover approx. 1,300 sq. feet. Laundry rooms and bathrooms would be high on your priority list as far as dehumidifiers go. Your laundry room and bathroom would need at least a 30 to 50 pint dehumidifier, and so on. It can actually get very complicated and costly. It is best to tackle the areas that get the most humidity and try to figure out how to cut it down.

Silverfish aren’t the only insects that are attracted by humidity, and humidity isn’t usually the only problem you have with dampness in your home or business. This is why it is important to work with a pest control company to prevent silverfish from invading your environment, as they handle this problem everyday and know how to deal with it.

What Can You Do If You Already Have Silverfish?
If you already have silverfish in your home you may need to employ or seek the advice of a professional pest control company to completely eliminate them and prevent the re-occurrence of an infestation. Spiders are attracted to silverfish, so you probably have spiders too.

Silverfish are small insects reaching their greatest growth at around 1 inch in length. The way their body tapers at the end gives them the fish-like appearance from which they get their name. They love damp environments and lay their eggs in cracks and crevices making them doubly hard to get rid of. One could suggest something as simple as a dehumidifier to cut down on the dampness and humidity in your home, but this really won’t completely work because there are many possible places in your house that silverfish like to hang out in.

It will take careful planning and scrutiny to mend and become aware of why silverfish are congregating in your home or business. Silverfish, much like crickets, love damp paper, wood, and clothing. You might have to pay special attention to your laundry and bathing areas, plus, the basement attracts them as it is often prone to moisture. Try not to leave any clothes or dish washing cloths tossed aside after use. Make sure you hang them or lay them where they can dry out. Mops are the same way, we will often just set them aside in a corner, or other storage area, while they are still damp. Practices such as these can attract silverfish.

When Are Silverfish Most Active?
Silverfish are “nocturnal” and the most active at night. They absolutely hate light, and that is why they mostly stay in dark, damp places. You will hardly ever see them in the daytime. Occasionally you might see one running for cover as you suddenly open a cabinet door located close to the ground in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. This is what makes it hard to determine whether you have an infestation or not because they are hardly seen moving around in the daytime.

Silverfish also hide in cracks and crevices where you can’t really see them when it is not night time. It is surprising how fast they can move during their periods of activity, or when they are surprised in the darkness and flee for cover to the nearest hiding spot. They are limited in this quick movement though, because if they come to a wall they cannot scale it as quickly as they do horizontal surfaces. Silverfish do not have wings, just feet, and not a bunch of them like the centipede who also likes the dark.

When silverfish move around, they kind of look like a fish, waving back and forth. Perhaps this is how they got part of their name, besides being shaped like a fish. The silverfish moves like a fish, is shaped like a fish, but it is not a fish. Silverfish has the name of a fish, but it cannot swim, even at night when it is the most active.

What Is The Birthing Cycle Of Silverfish?

The birthing cycle of silverfish involves a ritual which is unique to them. First they touch their antennae to each other, the female is the aggressor, and the male tries to run away from her. When she catches him, the male after responding, creates a “spermatophore”. A “spermatophore” is a sort of protein type substance consisting of “spermatozoa”.

The female silverfish takes the “spermatophore” into her body using her “ovipositor” to produce her eggs.
On the average, the female silverfish lays around 50 eggs at a time in a grouping. In her whole lifetime, she might lay no more than a 100 eggs. The eggs are very tiny, but are fascinating in the fact that they are oval and white in appearance, looking like mega miniature eggs laid by poultry, or ones you would buy from the grocery store. They are very typical looking eggs. It may take as long as two months for them to hatch.

Nymphs (young silverfish) hatch from the eggs and look like miniature forms of their parents, excepting their color is more “whitish”. As the nymphs grow into adults they will “moult” several times taking on the color of the adult silverfish gradually with each skin shed. Silverfish continue to “moult” throughout their lifetimes, at the rate of approximately 30 times a year. A full grown silverfish is silverish/gray in coloring.

Basically the female silverfish lays eggs after being fertilized by the male, and the eggs hatch into a nymph. There is no metamorphosis type growth in the birthing cycle of silverfish.

What is the History of Silverfish?
The history of silverfish (a wingless insect) can be traced back to at least 350 million years ago during the “Devonian Period” as evolving from this time. Through it’s linage was evolving, its predecessors are the most oldest, or primitive insects known to mankind. They could of even evolved during the late “Silurian Period” which would date back approximately 400 million years ago. The “Devonian Period” is followed by the “Silurian Period”, then the “Carboniferous Period”. Silverfish are arthropod. Fossils used as evidence of the arthropod have been dated in the “Paltozoic Era”. Fossils of this time attributed to silverfish are known as “Stiara Intermedia”, and are often identified as “Jumping Bristletails” which possibly were made by silverfish.
They formerly belonged to the order of “Thysanura”. The silverfish got it’s common name because of the shape of it’s body, it’s silvery/gray coloring, and the way it moves. Even though it is known to eat natural fibers such as silk and cotton, it’s most common food source is carbohydrates. It also eats paper and cardboard.
Similar insects species of North America that are also identified as silverfish are:

• “Ctenolepisa Longicaudata”
• “Ctenolepisma Uadriseriata”

There are a few species in Australia that share the name silverfish, and these are identified as the “Thermobia Domestica” and the “Acrotelsella Devriesiana”. The history of silverfish dates back as far as descendants go to the furthest of any insect.


Silverfish can attract poisonous spiders such as the Black Widow and Brown Recluse which can inflict damage on you. Silverfish are like crickets if you have ever had them before invading your house. Perhaps you do, because they like the same moist environments and both are nocturnal. Crickets attract scorpions which can be harmful to you, especially the Brown Bark Scorpion. Why breed all of these little insects in your house that are actually prey for the more dangerous insects? People can also be allergic to silverfish.

Watchdog Pest Control and exterminators will monitor your home and help prevent an infestation with SILVER FISH.

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