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  Pest IdentificationSilverfish    March 20, 2018
  • Silverfish
  • Silverfish
  • Urban Silverfish
  • Firebrat and Silverfish
  • Firebrat

The scientific name for the species is Lepisma saccharina, due to its tendency to eat starchy foods high in carbohydrates and protein, such as dextrin. Frequently called silverfish, fishmoths, carpet sharks or paramites, they are small, wingless insects in the order Thysanura. However, the insect's more common name comes from the insect's distinctive metallic appearance and fish-like shape. While the scientific name can be traced back to 1758, the common name has been in use since at least 1855.

Silverfish are nocturnal, elongated and flattened insects typically 13–25 millimetres (0.51–0.98 in) long. Their abdomen tapers at the end, giving them a fish-like appearance. The newly hatched are whitish, but develop a greyish hue and metallic shine as they get older. They have three long cerci at the tips of their abdomens, one off the end of their body, one facing left, and one facing right. They also have two small compound eyes, despite other members of Thysanura being completely eyeless, such as the family Nicoletiidae.
Like other species in Apterygota, silverfish completely lack wings. They have long antennae, and move in a wiggling motion that resembles the movement of a fish. This, coupled with their appearance, influences their common name. Silverfish typically live for two to eight years.

Silverfish are a cosmopolitan species, found in Africa, North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and other parts of the Pacific. They inhabit moist areas, requiring a relative humidity between 75% and 95%. In urban areas, they can be found in basements, bathrooms, garages, closets, and attics.
Reproduction and life cycle
The reproduction of silverfish is preceded by a ritual involving three phases, which may last over half an hour. In the first phase, the male and female stand face to face, their trembling antennae touching, then repeatedly back off and return to this position. In the second phase the male runs away and the female chases him. In the third phase, the male and female stand side by side and head-to-tail, with the male vibrating his tail against the female. Finally the male lays a spermatophore, a sperm capsule covered in gossamer, which the female takes into her body via her ovipositor to fertilize the eggs.
The female lays groups of less than sixty eggs at once, deposited in small crevices. The eggs are oval-shaped, whitish, about 0.8 millimeters (0.031 in) long, and take between two weeks and two months to hatch. Silverfish usually lay fewer than one hundred eggs in their lifetime.
When the nymphs hatch, they are whitish in color, and look like smaller adults. As they molt, young silverfish develop a greyish appearance and a metallic shine, eventually becoming adults after three months to three years. They may go through seventeen to sixty-six molts in their lifetime, sometimes thirty in a single year, which is much more than usual for an insect. Silverfish are among the few types of insect that continue to molt after reaching adulthood. The lifespan of a silverfish varies from two to eight years.

Silverfish consume matter that contains polysaccharides, such as starches and dextrin in adhesives. These include glue, book bindings, plaster, some paints, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing and dandruff. Silverfish can also cause damage to tapestries. Other substances that may be eaten include cotton, linen, silk, synthetic fibers and dead insects or even its own exuvia (molted exoskeleton). During famine, a silverfish may even attack leather-ware and synthetic fabrics. Silverfish can live for a year or more without eating. Silverfish are considered a household pest, due to their consumption and destruction of property. Although they are responsible for the contamination of food and other types of damage, they do not transmit disease. Earwigs, house centipedes and spiders are known to be predators of silverfish.
Similar species
Two other silverfish are common in North America, Ctenolepisma longicaudata and Ctenolepisma quadriseriata. Ctenolepisma urbana is known as the urban silverfish. The Australian species most commonly referred to as ‘silverfish’ is a different lepismatid, Acrotelsella devriesiana. The firebrat (Thermobia domestica) is like a silverfish but smaller.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Edited and Condensed by: Scott Glaze, February 24, 2012

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