Get to know Silverfish

Legend: GOOD BAD

Get to know the Silverfish Lepisma sp.

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  • The Silverfish are white to brown-grey or bluish-silver in colour.
  • Silverfish are teardrop-shaped.
  • Silverfish grow up to12-19 mm in length with three long bristles on rear.
  • Silverfish grow from egg to adult without visible change in appearance.
  • Females lay egg singly or in small batches and hatch between 2 – 8 weeks and go on a primitive metamorphosis, numbers and habits vary, depending on species. One species lays a few eggs a
  • day where as other species lay clusters of 2 – 20 eggs.
  • Nymphs (an immature form of an insect that does not change greatly as it grows) take 3 – 24 months to develop into adults and live up to 4 years.
  • Capable of thriving in most climates, silverfish prefer to dwell in dark, damp areas such as basements, attics, kitchens and bathrooms.
  • They are especially attracted to paper and damp clothing.
  • Commonly found in stored boxes in garages and sheds.
  • Silverfish feed on carbohydrates, particularly sugars and starches. Cellulose (fibre), shampoos, glue in books, linen, silk and dead insects may be food sources. Silverfish have been found in unopened food packages.

Silverfish are not dangerous to humans but cause a great deal of damage to property due to their feeding habits, such as dry foods, furniture, books, clothing, linen and bathroom products e.g. shampoo & soap.

Silverfish like high humidity/most environments, for example, areas with poor drainage under the house and leaking taps and roof. Fixing these areas will reduce the likelihood of Silverfish harbouring in these areas.
Reduce their food source, for example, paper, clothes and books. By keeping these items off the floor and stored in plastic sealed containers will reduce the likelihood of them harbouring in these items.

A high level of hygiene and sanitation is highly recommended. This can include vacuuming thoroughly, including in all dark corners, cleaning up any spilt food and storing open food in sealed containers.

Before bringing items into the home, such as stored old clothing, paper and stored boxes, open outdoors and shake/inspect the contents before bringing into the home, this will reduce adult Silverfish entering the premises.

Another method is, if the items are not sensitive to heat, place the items in a black plastic bag and leave in the sun for around 2 hours. Silverfish do not tolerate the heat well, therefore this method will kill any present Silverfish and eggs.

Seal all cracks and cervices, in and around the home, with a filling agent such as silicon which can reduce Silverfish population.

Always use a registered insecticide, the insecticide must have the Silverfish symbol/image on the label.

There is a range of products on the market to assist in reducing Silverfish in and around the home.

Before applying insecticide, an inspection of the area must be conducted to find the harbouring area. Thoroughly treat all cracks and cervices, voids and surfaces where Silverfish are likely to harbor. Avoid treating areas where food is prepared.

Note: When using a registered pesticide, always follow the directions on the label. If poisoning occurs, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 131126.

Engaging a professional Pest Controller is another option.