What Are Silverfish?
Have you ever opened a box of your favorite memories only to have a few silverfish dart out? These nasty little insects are enough to make most people jump at first sight. But are they harmful to humans? Is your reaction to the insect something instinctual that’s telling you to keep away? And can they damage your home? Learn more about silverfish and what you can do about them. Call The Killers for pest control Portland and let us help you get rid of these tiny, creepy insects.
Silverfish are thought to be one of the oldest insects in the world. Many think they were around 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth, meaning the bugs have survived for about 400 million years.
These ancient insects are typically shiny gray or silver and can be anywhere from one-half inch to one inch long. Unlike most other insects, silverfish shed their skins throughout their adult lives. Throughout the millions of years these insects have crept around the planet, they never evolved to have wings. Silverfish are also most active at night, which is why they usually freak you out when you’re reaching for that bedtime book or headed to the bathroom to brush your teeth.
Are Silverfish Harmful to Humans?
Because of their appearance, people may assume that silverfish are harmful. The good news is they are not known to bite and there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that they are poisonous. Additionally, they’re not known to carry any pathogens that cause disease. That being said, they can trigger allergic reactions in some people. As you now know, silverfish shed their skins throughout adulthood in a process called “molting.” When they do this, they leave behind scales. Some people may be allergic to the dust created by the dropped scales.
Unfortunately, while silverfish aren’t harmful to people, they can damage your belongings. These insects prefer a diet filled with sugars and carbohydrates, so they’ll chow down on everything from cereals and books to wallpaper, insulation and clothing. They’ll also enjoy tissue, newspaper and cardboard. They’ll even eat human hair that’s fallen to the ground. While you may not be too upset if an old stack of newspapers set aside for the recycling center is eaten, you probably don’t want to find holes in clothing or open a box of family photo albums only to have a bunch of tiny prehistoric critters stream out and find your pictures ruined.
How to Help Prevent Silverfish
Silverfish are very common insects to have in the home. Unfortunately, getting rid of them is a tough task. Their flat bodies and high speed make them adept hiders. And the fact that they are nocturnal doesn’t make it any easier to spot them. They normally roam homes late at night, in search of food and water. Their flat bodies make them ideal hiders capable of squeezing into even the smallest cracks and crevices during daylight hours.
Before you decide how to get rid of silverfish in your home, you will have to confirm the enemy and its hiding spots. Silverfish and firebrats are both common in homes and look similar to each other. Both belong to the most primitive order of insects and are marked by carrot-shaped bodies and long antennae. Thirteen species exist in the United States. The common silverfish is shiny, silver or pearl gray, and about 1/2 inch long, although it can grow as long as 3/4 inch. The common firebrat is shiny, a mottled gray or brown, and about 1/2 inch long. Adults of both species are slender, wingless, soft-bodied insects with 2 long, slender antennae. Their bodies taper gradually from front to rear to 3 long, thin, tail-like appendages. Although small nymphs lack scales, both large nymphs and adults have them. If you see scales around or beneath damaged items, it is a good indication that these pests are the culprits.
To help get rid of silverfish, you should first monitor the infestation in your home. Since firebrats and silverfish are nocturnal, you usually won’t see them. To detect and monitor infestations, use cockroach sticky traps. You also can use small, glass jars covered on the outside with masking tape. The insects climb up the tape, fall into the jars, and can’t climb back up the slick sides. Place these traps or jars in corners and along edges where foraging is likely. Because these insects can travel long distances while looking for food, it can be difficult to pinpoint the infestation source.
You don’t have to let silverfish damage your belongings. Here are several steps you can take to help make your home less attractive these insects:
- Limit their food sources by keeping dry goods and pet foods in airtight containers
- Vacuum carpets, flooring and upholstery regularly to help remove fallen food crumbs
- Use dehumidifiers in damp areas to help remove the moisture that silverfish tend to be attracted to
- Have dirt floors in crawl spaces or unfinished basements lined with plastic sheeting to help control moisture
- Have ridge vents properly installed in roofs to help let humidity escape
- Keep gutters clean and help ensure water drains away from your home
- Make sure the outside of your house is caulked and well painted
- Properly seal any open areas, such as seams between walls and ceilings and cracks under and behind baseboards, windows and trim
What Helps Get Rid of Silverfish?
What if you already have a silverfish infestation or even a minor problem? What helps remove them once and for all? Silverfish can be tough to completely control. This is especially true in homes that have wooden shingles on the roof. Wood shingles are prone to mold, which silverfish tend to eat. It is also hard to treat for them because it’s challenging to reach all the areas a flat-bodied insect can shelter in.
Because it is so trying to combat a silverfish problem, it’s best to consult a trained pest control technician. DIY methods probably won’t get you far with a true silverfish infestation. Additionally, a trained professional will be better able to help you identify and treat the areas where silverfish may reside.
Don’t let these creepy crawlers take over your house and damage your belongings. The Killers can help in eradicating these creatures from your home.