Perhaps when asked which is the oldest pest to ever roam the earth, many of you would say, “cockroach”. Old? Yes, that’s true. After all, they’ve been in existence since around 320 million years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
But the oldest? Nah… It’s the silverfish.
This is not a well-known fact because, quite understandably, the silverfish is an underrated group of pests. It’s probably because they are not in any way harmful to humans and they do not carry any diseases.
However, the silverfish isn’t really a pleasant guest to have and are, after all, regarded as pests. They have a knack for feeding on objects you don’t want to see being consumed, such as anything made of leather, wallpapers and old books and important documents.
They say the best way to defeat your enemy is to keep them closer. What better advantage would you have than knowing exactly what you are up against. So, let’s get to know the silverfish more…
Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) are small, wingless insects under the order Thysanura. It has a fish-like appearance with silvery light grey and blue color, which is where its name was derived from. Their appearance hasn’t really changed much except for their colour. Silverfish nymphs are commonly creamy white.
Silverfish mostly feed on our everyday things, such as sugar, coffee, leather, paper, books, starches, cosmetics, photos and a whole lot more. They are usually found in moist, damp areas and they are specifically drawn to clothings. The common areas in the house where they can be found are the kitchen, sub-floor, attic and container boxes.
They can rarely be seen during daytime. These insects are particularly hard to spot since they move in a brisk, quick manner.
Their reproduction is slow. A female Silverfish is only able to lay an average of 100 eggs in her lifetime. On the other hand, their lifespan is considerably long, as they can live up to 5 years and are able to survive without water for long periods of time (several weeks) and even longer without food (1 year). Perhaps, this is the reason why their species have survived for millions of years, despite having a slow reproduction.
EFFECTS ON HUMANS
As scary as they seem to look, Silverfish are not dangerous. They do not carry diseases and are not in any way dangerous to humans. They are not known to bite but even if they do, their mandibles are too small to penetrate anything thicker than a sheet of paper.
However, this does not mean that Silverfish don’t have negative effects at all. They can have an indirect effect to human health by aiding in the growth of harmful insects such as cockroaches, spiders and centipedes by falling prey to them.
Perhaps, what we really need to worry about are the damages they can cause to a lot of household objects, mostly those that we use everyday. They feed on common household objects such as books, leather furniture, important documents, old photographs, wallpapers, plants, and even our food such as cereals and various sugary foods.
They may not cause negative effects to our health and safety, but they can surely cause havoc to our possessions and in worst cases, a dent to our bank balance.
A surefire way of confirming a Silverfish infestation is by observing a specimen. This has been proven to be difficult to achieve though since these insects are nocturnal animals and are very hard to come by since they run for cover at the first sign of trouble.
However, there is still another way of detecting the presence of these insects. Look for damages in clothings, books and wallpapers. One way to tell whether you’re dealing with a Silverfish infestation or not is by looking at the damages on books. They eat the pages layer by layer, making them look as though they’re peeled with sandpaper.
Perhaps the best and most effective way of determining Silverfish infestation is by employing the help of professional pest management companies as they have the ability and proper tools to distinguish silverfish faeces from common house dust