Silverfish is a small, wingless insect common in cosmopolitan areas of Australia, and gets its name because of its light, silvery grey colour and fish-like movements. They are distributed throughout most of the world.
Silverfish have a long, slender, flat body that tapers at the rear. Their antennae are also long and slender, and their body is covered with scales. Mature adults vary in size from 15mm to 25mm and young silverfish are similar in appearance to adults, but much smaller. They move very fast but are unable to climb smooth surfaces.
Silverfish hatch from tiny, light-yellow eggs laid in crevices as nymphs which are whitish in colour and look like small adults. As they go through a series of moults, the colour changes to metallic grey and finally, at the adult stage after 2 to 3 years they have the characteristic silver, scaly colour. They have a lifespan of two to eight years.
In their natural habitat, they are found under leaf litter and bark, and in rotting logs. This preference for moist, dark, humid areas brings them indoors to bathrooms, garages, basements, under houses and in cupboards. They prefer humidity in the range of 75% to 95% and warm temperatures above 13 C but will not tolerate extreme heat.
Silverfish eat starchy food high in protein and dextrins. Glues, paint, paper, books, plaster, photos, carpets, clothing, coffee, hair and dandruff are all foods readily available in households that attract silverfish. They can go without food for up to a year.
Detrimental Effects to Humans and Property
Because they feed on much that is household property, a silverfish infestation is extremely destructive. They also contaminate food with scales and droppings but thankfully do not transmit disease.
Removing their food source is one of the best methods of control but this is difficult to do given that they feed on such a variety of household items. Regular cleaning out of cupboards will disturb them and keeping wet areas like bathrooms, laundries and garages clean and dry discourages their breeding. Chemical controls such as dusting and spraying will eradicate them, but these are best left to experienced pest control operatives.
The team at Bob Gunn Termite Solutions are trained, experienced and licensed to advise on the best method for eradicating silverfish and will offer a solution that suits each individual circumstance.