Nocturnal and growing up to 25 millimetres long, the silverfish is an insect that despite its small size, can cause quite a disruption within the home. Their primary motivation is to consume fibre and reproduce. These pests are drawn to many environments within our home, and oftentimes, infestations can get out of hand before we even know they have begun. In just a few minutes of reading, find out more about silverfish and how Pest Managers, your trusted pest control company, can help solve your problem.
The pest control guide to Silverfish
Known scientifically as Lespisma sacchrina, silverfish are actually believed to be one of the oldest insect species alive on earth. This can be proven by silverfish fossils that have been found and traced back to as far as the Palaeozoic era. Many scientists argue that silverfish have been around for more than 400 million years! This means that humans have always been confronted with these annoying pests.
Silverfish are named so due to their metallic, silvery appearance and fish-like motion and shape upon moving. They have also been known as “bristletails” in reference to their tail appendages that can be likened to bristles. Silverfish can be found in moist environments throughout the Cape. Homeowners often make a call to their pest control Cape Town companies to complain about their presence in their homes.
Where silverfish have no wings, they make up for it by their ability to run extremely fast. Because they do not carry venom nor do they have fangs, silverfish have no defence against their predators, which include spiders and centipedes. This is where their ability to run quickly comes in. However, the problem comes in when these bugs are forced to move vertically, as they can only achieve their fastest pace on horizontal services. They lack the type of appendages required to do the former.
The creatures are also recognisable by their flat bodies which are generally covered in scales – another reason why they were dubbed “silverfish”. The insects also have antennas that can be likened to thread, as well as tiny, compound eyes with a significant gap in between. They are known to moult frequently throughout their lives, and often consume their exoskeletons afterwards.
In general, they enjoy residing in humid areas within the home, like bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, bathtubs, sinks, old books, showers and basements. Their habitats of choice usually have a humidity of around 75% to 95%. They are relatively skilled at hiding their presence as well as the damage they cause. This means that it is often only after a significant amount of damage has been done that we notice.
Silverfish are often introduced to homes and buildings as hitchhikers on papers, books and cardboard boxes. Once inside your home, they are perfectly content to roam long distances to find a suitable food source. Inside your home or office, they will breed in various areas, such as under flooring and wall voids. A female can lay between 1 and 3 eggs each day and they take between 3 and 4 months to hatch in favourable conditions. In less opportune conditions, eggs can take between 2 and 3 years. Silverfish can live up to 3 years.
The above facts should encourage you to act quickly in the event of an infestation, and contact your trusted pest control expert in Cape Town.
What do they eat?
Silverfish are drawn to material that contains polysaccharides, for example, starches and dextrin used in adhesives. These include:
- Book bindings
Some other favourite snacks include:
- Rolled oats
- Dried beef
- Dead insects
Silverfish are determined creatures, and they will literally eat through your wallpaper to consume the paste beneath. They are infamous for destroying tapestries, and also enjoy feeding on cotton, linen, silk, food crumbs and dead insects. They even go so far as to consume their own moulted exoskeletons, known as the exuvia. If silverfish are deprived of other food resources, they are quite able to eat synthetic fabrics and leatherware.
Regardless, they are capable of living for a year or more without eating – as long as there is water available to them.
What harm do they pose within your home?
Silverfish are mainly considered household pests due to their ability to damage property. They are also capable of contaminating food. Despite this, they are unable to transmit diseases. This is why many people are reluctant to contact their pest control Cape Town company until it is too late and significant damage has been done.
In terms of our health, silverfish are not known to pose any real threat. However, there are individuals who experience allergies as a result of silverfish debris, such as droppings and moulted skin. Tropomyosin, a protein found in the exoskeleton, has been linked to this issue. If combined with other allergens produced by other pests such as dust mites, a recombinant allergen can be created and may result in even stronger allergic reactions.
Aside from this, however, our health is not likely to be in any severe danger. If you have an excess of paper lying around the house though, you are in for an unwelcome surprise, as they will undoubtedly target this material first. They will also see to it that your upholstery and books become a plentiful food source for themselves and their offspring.
How to spot a silverfish infestation, and when to call your pest control Cape Town company
You may notice the first signs of an infestation exhibited in feeding marks. They may appear irregularly shaped, and can take the form of holes, surface etchings as well as notches along the edge of an object. Further, you may notice faeces (which look like miniscule, pepper-like pellets) on the infested materials. You may also notice scales and yellow stains on surfaces.
We at Pest Managers advise that you contact your trusted pest control Cape Town company at the very first sign of infestation. This will allow the professionals with years of experience to address the situation and effectively solve it with the best results.
How to prevent a silverfish prevention
Prevention is key to avoiding any large pest infestation within your home. The most effective way to prevent a silverfish infestation is to routinely inspect their preferred habitats for any signs of them. Another helpful tip is to remove objects on the exterior of your home that could serve as climbing posts into your windows. Another is to remove air vent gaps that lead into humid spaces.
Additionally, purchasing a dehumidifier for your home, repairing drains and pipes that are prone to leaking as well as repairing wet or mouldy wood are some effective ways to limit appealing environments that could attract silverfish and allow them to thrive within your home. Further, try to get rid of old magazines and books in the areas wherein silverfish are likely to infest.
Some other tips that may help you prevent a silverfish infestation include:
- Keeping dry food in cupboards in airtight containers, as this will prevent the build-up of moisture and subsequently lessen the appeal for silverfish who adore moisture.
- Regularly dusting your home, as this will keep the bugs away from particles containing the materials they enjoy eating.
- Ensuring that you store clothes in a dry space. Further, consider sealing or packing away clothes that you do not frequently wear, or only wear seasonally, in airtight containers.
- Cleaning up crumbs and leftovers around your home. If you have a vacuum cleaner, it can do an excellent job sucking up crumbs as well as eggs that may be laid on accessible cracks and surfaces.
- Using sealants to cover holes, openings and cracks to prevent breeding.
- Ventilating rooms that often become moist. This can be done by opening windows after showering or airing out your kitchen after a cooking session.
- Disposing of dead plants, wood and leaves around the exterior of your home. This debris becomes a haven for silverfish when it becomes damp.
DIY methods to get rid of Silverfish in your home
Should you discover a silverfish infestation inside your home, the first and most advisable course of action is to call your local pest control Cape Town company. However, this is not always an option, especially if you live in a far removed destination or are experiencing financial constraints.
If this is the case, the following DIY methods for silverfish in the home may be of assistance:
Setting your own trap
One way to set your own silverfish trap is by placing a starchy food in a glass container and then wrapping the outside with tape. The starch will attract the bugs and they will be able to climb up the textured tape surface. However, once inside, they will be unable to climb up the smooth glass sides and will become trapped.
Some good news
Another tip is to use an old newspaper to attract silverfish. Roll it up and place it on the floor after dampening it. If there are silverfish in the area, they should flock to the newspaper. After several days, throw it away, or if you prefer, burn it, and rid the world of the pesky silverfish that may have stayed there if you so desire.
A sticky situation
If you find that silverfish are gathering in certain areas of your home, think about placing some sticky traps out nearby.
Consider using cedar or cedar oil. You can do so through a spray bottle or a diffuser, both filled with the oil and some water. Silverfish dislike the strong-smelling pheromones that are in cedar. Should you like the sound of this method, be advised that using it if you have small animals like rodents and birds in your home can sometimes cause illness.
Bring the outdoors in
Spreading dried bay leaves throughout your home is another popular DIY silverfish repelling method. Silverfish, among other insects, dislike the oil in the leaves and may be repelled.
Potions and poisons
If you mean serious business, and do not have children or pets who can touch or ingest dangerous poisons throughout your home, you may wish to consider attempting your own silverfish treatment. This can be is time-consuming and exhaustive and results are not always guaranteed. Hiring a qualified pest control Cape Town company such as Pest Managers is an easy way to rid yourself of the silverfish infestation. These companies not only use environmentally friendly products, but also know the latest tricks of the trade to properly rid your home of the pesky bugs.
Further, you may find that bringing a pest control Cape Town professional into your home may help you learn of entry points into your home that are like beacons for pests, that you may never have noticed before. This will serve as a helpful preventative measure when you are advised and receive suggestions as to how to fix the situation.