What do they look like?
They are long, slim, scaly, segmented, wingless insects, with a pair of long fine antennae at the front and three tail-like appendages at the rear. Silverfish grow to about 12mm in length. The silverfish, as its name implies, is silvery and glistens in appearance.
Where do they live?
Silverfish are found in fairly moist areas such as kitchens, larders and mainly in bathrooms and basements. They can also be found in books and paper, slightly damp cupboards, behind skirting boards and loose wallpaper.
Silverfish are nocturnal and move very rapidly when disturbed and just turning on a light can make them run for cover.
The silverfish feed mainly on small food particles and the paste on the back of wallpaper that has become detached. It attacks gums and glues of bookbinding, feeds on fragments of dead insects and may also eat textiles such as cotton and linen.
How much of a pest are they?
The presence of silver fish is an indication of damp conditions. This may be a warning that repairs are needed.
Occasional damage to books etc. has been attributed to silverfish but these examples are rare and only occur in areas where the books are likely to be damaged by damp in any case. Damage to textiles may occur. Wallpaper and wallpaper paste may be grazed upon, causing unsightly damage.
The female silverfish is believed to lay about 100 eggs, either singly or in groups, usually in crevices and cracks and are glued to the surface on which they are laid.
They are small and white when first laid but soon turn brownish and are difficult to find.
The time they take to hatch varies from two to eight weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity of the breeding site. Newly hatched insects are about 2mm long and resemble the adults in appearance.
The time they take to reach maturity may vary from a few months to over a year, depending on the temperature and humidity of their surroundings.
How can I get rid of pests?
Newcastle City Council provides pest control service for the treatment of Silverfish, including details of treatment and post treatment advice.
If you do attempt treatment yourself, when using pesticides always follow the instructions on the label.