Coming in late one night last week I was startled to spot a little creature scurrying across the hall and into the downstairs bathroom, where I then found another of these creatures. When I turned the light on they very quickly scarpered behind the skirting boards.
I asked my colleagues at Rentokil and discovered that these creatures are called Silverfish. Silverfish have flat elongated bodies about a third to three quarters of an inch in length. They are unable to fly due to their lack of wings but compensate for this by being able to move incredibly quickly. They are nocturnal so you are unlikely to sight them during the day. They love damp conditions so bathrooms are a perfect habitat for them; they hide in cracks and crevices away from sight.
Silverfish are not dangerous and do not transmit disease but they can be irritating. They eat matter that contains polysaccharides, which include glue, paper, sugar, hair, carpet and dandruff. Librarians often despair of them because they can be tricky to get rid of. Curators also need to be vigilant as they can damage pictures. In times of desperation silverfish may eat synthetic fibres, dead insects or even their own moulted exoskeletons. They can also live for several months without eating anything at all.
You can try and prevent silverfish but ventilating bathrooms during and after showering, either by opening windows or using extractor fans. Make sure all cracks in walls and skirting boards are filled. However if you see a large amount of these little creatures then call the pest control experts as you may have an infestation. Some homeowners have found that wiping the walls with a solution of bleach and water has helped them to eliminate their silverfish problem.
So don’t panic if you see one, just don’t let them get too comfy in your home!