Termite Inspection Orange County Termite Terry Pest Control

Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, South Orange County, Long Beach Area

Those Pesky Silverfish!

Chances are you’ve seen silverfish scurrying around in your bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room. While these “pesky” silverfish are harmless to humans and pets, they can pose a threat to your belongings as they seek out food to eat.
Silverfish are thought to be one of the most primitive insects living on earth. In 1988, Dr. Conrad Labandeira, an entomologist at the University of Chicago, discovered a silverfish fossil in Quebec that is believed to be the oldest insect in the world. This specimen was estimated to have lived between 390 million and 392 million years ago!
Most silverfish are about ½ to ¾ inch long, and their carrot-shaped bodies are silver or gunmetal in color. They have six legs, two long antennae on their head, and three long appendages at the rear of their body. These three appendages are one of the reasons why they are often referred to as “bristletails”.

A silverfish egg will hatch in 19 to 43 days at temperatures of 72 to 90 degrees F, and they become sexually mature in several weeks to several months. Adults will lay 1 to 3 eggs per day during their 2 ½ year lifetime.

One can find silverfish almost anywhere in a house. However, they are usually found in areas of high moisture close to their source of food. Since their bodies are flattened, they can find harborage in very small cracks and crevices. That is why you’ll sometimes find them within the confines of narrow book bindings, the loose pages of books, or in the corrugations of cardboard.

The diet of silverfish includes a wide variety of foods containing proteins or carbohydrates, including rolled oats, dried beef, flour, starch, paper, cotton, some synthetic fibers, sugar, beef extract, dead insects, glue, paste and linen.

While silverfish will only consume small amounts of food, they do contaminate them with their body scales and fecal droppings.

The damage they do to some natural and synthetic fibers, books and other paper products can be considerable. If you’ve ever picked up an old book or magazine that has been damaged by silverfish, you’ll find holes in the pages and that the edges of the paper have been chewed away in irregular patterns.

Damage caused by silverfish to textiles can be identified by the presence of feces (looks like black pepper), scales, and irregular feeding marks on individual fibers. You may also see yellowish stains on items, especially linens.

How To Control Silverfish

  1. Reduce moisture and humidity.

Airtight homes with humidity levels above 50% year-round can develop silverfish infestations that can be very difficult to control with only insecticide applications. In order to achieve control, the relative humidity will need to be reduced to below 45% to 50%. Dehumidification equipment may be needed, and we suggest that you contact a professional air-conditioning/heating specialist for help.

In some cases, your home’s attic and crawlspace ventilation may need to be improved, especially with chronic infestations. Special electric ventilation fans can be useful in some situations.

Do you like cooking or taking long hot showers? You can lower the humidity levels in your home by simply using the electric fans in kitchens and baths.

Dripping faucets and leaky pipes should be repaired. It is also important to wash your dishes and put them away after each meal, instead of leaving them in the sink.

  1. Eliminate harborage sites. Seal cracks and crevices, especially around windows, cabinets, and moldings. Old cardboard boxes, newspapers and books may need to be discarded. If you want to keep these items, you’ll need to dry them out and find a better way to store them, such as in airtight containers. Silverfish are nocturnal, so improved lighting may make the room less hospitable.
  2. Vacuuming on a regular basis can be an effective way to remove silverfish and reduce the population.

Remove leaves and grass litter from around your house. This will help to keep these pests from invading your home.

  1. Identify and eliminate potential food sources. Silverfish tend to seek out starchy materials. Food sources that cannot be removed should be placed in tightly sealed containers. If you use cornstarch-based cosmetics, bathroom floors should be vacuumed regularly.
  2. Treatments with insecticides may be needed. Kitchens and baths are where you’ll need to focus your attention. However, these pests may be found in any room. Treatments are usually done by applying either dust or liquid products into cracks and crevices, under appliances and cabinets, and in wall and plumbing voids. The application of dusts in attics and crawlspaces is often effective. Commercially available silverfish baits may also help in your fight with these pests.

Ideally, you’ll need to find their actual breeding site but that is not always easy to do. If you need assistance with your silverfish problem, please call us at (949) 631-7348 and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment at your convenience.