Tag Archives: Silverfish

What Are Silverfish?

What are They and What To Do About Them?

A house-dwelling insect, the Lepisma saccharina, more commonly known as the Silverfish or bristletail, derives its name from several characteristics such as its silver/gray exoskeleton and fish-like habit of moving at a rapid pace, interspersed with short intervals of stopping or pausing. The scientific name (Lepisma saccharina) lends itself to the insect’s primary diet of sugar and starch filled items. These guys are addicted to carbs! This species of insect dates back millions of years and tends to have a prehistoric or fossil like appearance with its long antennae and scale like exterior.

Considered more of a nuisance than anything else, the presence of one or two silverfish in your home could mean that there are more of them lurking behind the scenes. The biggest complaint of the Silverfish is their destructive feeding habits, often ruining items in the home such as wallpaper, books and magazines, soaps and shampoos, clothes and much more.

Silverfish

A Behind the Scene look at the Silverfish

A bit of a sneaky insect, Silverfish are mostly nocturnal and do a great job at hiding. With a high reproduction rate, preventative measures should be taken once you’ve spotted a silverfish in order to avoid a full blown infestation. Drawn to dark areas, the silverfish will make its home behind wallpaper, in dark closets and behind bookshelves, inside window and door frames and behind baseboards.

The biggest error that homeowners make is not taking action early on to get rid of these insects as their ‘hide and seek’ habits can allow for an escalation of an existing problem. If you have noticed yellow stains on your fabric, or small holes in boxes or wallpaper, chances are while you were sleeping these insects were already at work!

Characteristics of the Silverfish

As small and harmless looking as they are, the Silverfish can be a tough little insect as it can survive in most environments and can go extensive periods without food. Showing preference to more humid conditions, Silverfish are also somewhat difficult to get rid of as they move around fairly quickly, making their elusive nature quite frustrating to many homeowners. Even though these little guys don’t have wings, you’d be surprised at how quickly they appear and reappear in different areas of your home.

The most common of the three species of Silverfish is:

Lepisma saccharina (regular Silverfish) is the most common variety usually measuring up to a ½ inch in length. Their bodies have a consistent silvery sheen with no markings on them. You’ll find these guys near areas of high moisture, and lower level spaces such as basements.

Other traits of the silverfish include:

  • Flattened, carrot shaped body with 3 noticeable “tails” on the rear
  • Wingless with a hard exoskeleton
  • 2 long, slender antennas on the head
  • Long life cycle with egg to adult development taking anywhere from 3 months to 3 years.
  • Prefers a moist climate with a high humidity
  • Adults lay anywhere from 5-50 eggs, usually near food sources
  • Consumes items high in carbohydrates and protein such as glue in bookbindings, silk fabrics, dry foods such as dried meat and cereal, paper and cardboard.

Silverfish

Where to find Silverfish in your home

Since the Silverfish is somewhat of an elusive creature, more often than not you’ll spy signs of its existence rather than the insect itself. Their feeding habits will leave behind evidence through small holes in your wallpaper or in boxes you may have lying around, or even by yellowish stains on fabric. You may also notice evidence of their feces, usually mistaken for dust, or through the shedding of their cast skins. If you happen to catch glimpse of a silverfish, more than likely you will spot them in areas that are dark or have moisture such as:

  • Under sinks
  • Bathrooms/bathtubs or laundry rooms
  • Attics
  • Basements
  • Storage rooms
  • Behind closets and bookshelves
  • Garages and sheds

Additionally, items such as boxes, cardboard or even furniture can be source for infestation if either eggs or adult silverfish were attached to these, and brought into the home.

Control and Prevention

Here are some tips to help control the silverfish population in your home:

  • Since they prefer an environment with a high humidity and high temperature, lowering the temperature in your home can help to repel them from settling in and reproducing.
  • Use a dehumidifier or fan in areas of the house more prone to moisture, such as basements.
  • When moving furniture or boxes into your home, carefully inspect in and around these items to ensure that there are no signs of silverfish (either eggs or adults). This is particularly helpful when moving boxes from a garage or shed into your home.
  • Don’t give silverfish something to snack on! If possible, eliminate sources of food like old papers and books, as well as unused clothes or fabric that may be left lying around.
  • Make sure to caulk and seal any cracks that may be found around windows or doors on the exterior of your home. This will help to keep them from entering.
  • Repair or replace wallpaper that is torn as this makes for an inviting space for silverfish to inhabit.

Hiring a professional to address a silverfish problem is the most effective method, as Do It Yourself solutions such as traps or insecticides only target individual insects and not the potentially larger issue at hand. Since these insects reproduce quickly, eliminating them at their source is important. Your Truly Nolen pest professional can effectively assess the problem and provide solutions for treating both eggs and adult silverfish to prevent future infestations.

Don’t Let Fabric Pests Ruin Your Wardrobe

As you start digging through the back of your closet for warmer clothing this fall season, keep an eye out for household pests that may be destroying your clothes. Even though these pests are not usually disease or germ carriers, their presence can be a nuisance and difficult to eliminate. It’s important to ensure your clothes and other fabrics are protected as these pests can cause considerable damage before you even know they are present.

Generally, it’s the newly hatched larvae that do the damage on everything from sweaters, pants, jackets, wool rugs, to decorative needlework on your walls. Typically insect damage occurs on fabrics containing natural or animal fibers such as wool, mohair, silk, cotton, leather, fur, feathers, down, and any synthetics blended with these natural fibers.

Clothes Moths

Clothes Moth

Clothes moths are a light tan color, have very narrow wings, and can grow up to 1/2 inch long. It is the larva (small white worm looking) that actually eats wool garments, not the adult moths themselves. But if you see the adult clothes moths around you can assume they are laying eggs. Clothes moths pose no serious health concern to humans; however, an infestation can quickly ruin rarely used or stored clothing such as old military uniforms, blankets, feathered hats, tuxedos, overcoats, evening gowns, hats, antique dolls and toys, and wall hangings.

They thrive in dark, moist areas, such as closets and attics, where larvae have easy access to food sources like naturally occurring fibers such as wool and cotton. The damage from clothes moths appears as many small holes throughout the garment. Once you identify the presence of clothes moths, it is important to take action immediately. It is rare that infestations will be isolated to one particular location; moths like to travel around the home, searching for new places to lay eggs. Be sure to check carefully to find everything that has been infested. Clean, treat, or get rid of infested items. It may be better to throw out an infested item to protect uninfected woolens.

Washing items in a hot water wash cycle can be enough to kill all life cycles of the moth and ensure pests are removed at all life stages. Conversely, freezing temperatures can also kill any eggs or larvae in your wool garments. Depending on your environment, you can put the clothes outside on a cold day or use a freezer. Getting rid of clothes moths can be difficult so if signs of an infestation are severe enough, seek the help of a pest control professional as additional treatments may be required to eliminate the infestation.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet Beetle

Carpet beetles commonly cause damage to fabrics such as wool, silk, leather, and fur; they do not feed on synthetic fibers. Just like the clothes moth, the carpet beetle larvae are the ones to do the damage to your clothing. Carpet beetle larvae measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and appear to be densely covered with tiny hairs or bristles. The garment damage appears in one portion of a garment, or concentrated area. They easily find food in obscure places and can be easily dispersed throughout the home considering their unique ability to travel. Carpet beetles can be difficult to control and can cause extensive damage if left unchecked.

Getting rid of carpet beetles starts by ensuring you remove conditions conducive to infestations. Start by eliminating buildup of lint, dead insects and hair found inside the home. Wash drapes and other washable items in a hot water cycle, as they may contain eggs, larvae, and other adult carpet beetles. To treat items that are stuffed with hair or feathers, simply placing items in a dryer may not be enough – you may want to enlist the help of a pest control company. The application of targeted treatments can ensure proper removal throughout the home.

Silverfish

Silverfish

Silverfish are carrot-shaped insects with wingless, flattened bodies that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and silver in color. They feed on insulation, carbohydrates, starches, and proteins and both adults and nymphs damage fabrics. They are attracted to and commonly found in natural fabrics such as linen, rayon, and cotton. They require very high humidity or access to water, moderate temperatures, and dark places. Infestations are common around leaking pipes and closet areas.

They thrive on the tiniest scraps of food and once they establish a food source, they will remain and breed in the area. They tend to be most active at night and feed on natural starches and glues, leaving visible damage on finer fabrics such as silk, cotton, linen, and rayon. Silverfish eat at the surface leaving a “shaved” look, but will usually not leave actual holes in the fabric. Although they prefer starchy food, silverfish are quite able to digest cellulose and will devour your books as eagerly as the food stains on your garments! Your local Truly Nolen pest control company can help you protect your home from outside silverfish intruders.

Crickets

CricketThe most common types of crickets are the field cricket and the house cricket. Crickets are about three-quarters of an inch in length and black or brown in color. Although crickets rarely cause any problems and pose no serious health risks, many people find their chirping annoying. Only house crickets can reproduce inside the home. Cricket infestations are rarely problematic since crickets thrive outside. If crickets are a common disturbance in your home, following up with a pest control expert will help you “cricket-proof” the interior of your home.

Tips for keeping your clothes pest free!

  1. Store only clean garments. Thoroughly clean clothes prior to storage by emptying pockets, washing to remove food stains, perfumes, and perspiration as these can be a reliable food source for a wardrobe-destroying infestation. Have garments dry cleaned (without starch) or place in dryer on high heat for 15 minutes to eliminate any insect eggs or mildew spores.
  2. Regularly clean and vacuum. Clean rugs and carpets, draperies, upholstered furniture, closets and anywhere else larvae can hide. When you are finished, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag.
  3. To avoid future infestations, store clothes in containers located in a cool, dry place. Use garment storage bags made of cotton and or vinyl. Make sure to utilize breathable bags for leather or fur garments. Preventative products such as moth balls and cedar products can provide additional protection. If the insects cannot lay eggs, they will not eat your clothes.
  4. Be careful what you buy second-hand. Always launder or dry-clean woolens that are bought from thrift stores or given to you as hand-me-downs. You could have unexpected guests along with that sweater!

Don’t let these fabric-eating pests ruin your winter wardrobe. Want to leave it to the professionals? Contact a trained Truly Nolen pest control expert. Schedule a free inspection today!