Silverfish on wood


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Silverfish are known for their destructive feeding habits being nuisance pest. They can cause a serious problem in large numbers – damaging old books, photographs, wallpaper, plaster and other household items containing starch or cellulose. They are a nocturnal bugs and are especially attracted to food sources like paper, book bindings and damp clothing.

Silverfish survive in most environments, but thrive in conditions of high humidity and can often be found in dark, damp areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms and attics. 

These wingless insects are characterised by their silvery-blue colour, with long antennae and a carrot-shaped body covered with tiny scales. They have a wiggling movement that resembles that of a fish and are also commonly known as fish moths or carpet sharks.

Some signs of having silverfish problem are: yellow stains on clothing and synthetic fabrics, small holes or notches (known as feeding marks) along the edge of paper, books or wallpaper. They can also be found burrowing in unsealed dried food packets.

Are Silverfish Harmful to humans?

Due to their appearance, people often assume that these insects are harmful. However, they are not known to bite and there is no scientific evidence showing silverfish are poisonous. They are not known to carry pathogens which can cause disease. However, they can cause allergic reactions in some epeople. 

Throughout adulthood, silverfish shed their skins, which is known as “molting”. When they do this, they leave behind tiny scales; the particles produced by this molting can mix with dust and trigger an allergic reaction in some people who are more sensitive to skin irritation.

Silverfish are not harmful to people, but they can be damaging to your belongings. Their diets are based on sugars and carbohydrates, so they eat things such as books, glues in book bindings, paper, cardboard, wallpaper and wallpaper paste, insulation, dead insects, the emulsion on photographs (which then leaves small holes in the images), fallen human hair and clothing.

How to prevent silverfish

Silverfish are common pest insects in your home or business. Unfortunately, getting rid of silverfish is a difficult task. With their flat bodies and fast movement making them adept hiders. They are also nocturnal, which makes them difficult to spot. 

These are some tips to help reduce the attraction of your property to silverfish:

  • Reduce food sources such as dry foods (cereals, grains & pasta) including pet foods by storing them in sealed glass jars or airtight containers.
  • Keep tidy, remove waste cardboard, old papers and general clutter.
  • Vacuum regularly removing any food crumbs, dust and debris.
  • Keep gutters clean to ensure water drains away, to reduce dampness.
  • If you have an issue with damp in your property consider using a dehumidifier, as silverfish thrive in wet environments.
  • Seal any openings such as walls, cracks and ceilings.

How To Identify Silverfish

Silverfish Life cycle & habits

  • Silverfish reproduction habits vary by species. Some species only lay a few eggs a day whilst others can lay a cluster of 2 - 20 eggs a day.

  • Silverfish eggs are commonly hidden in tiny crevices or cracks therefore making them difficult to locate.

  • Silverfish prefer warm and humid places such as kitchens and bathrooms.

  • They are especially attracted to damp clothing and paper.

  • Silverfish feed on carbohydrates, especially starch and sugars.

Silverfish Treatment

A Silverfish infestation requires treatment of both the adult Silverfish and their harbourage. Trying to eliminate silverfish can be difficult. A professional treatment to get rid of silverfish infestation is the most effective. 

At Rentokil, our BPCA certified technicians will be able to assess the situation and advise on the most effective treatments to manage the infestation in your home or business.

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