Is It Dangerous To Have Silverfish In My Mesa Home?

Close up of a Silverfish

A silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) is silver or pearl gray, shiny, and between ½ -¾ of an inch long. Silverfishes' slender bodies taper from front to back and form a thin tail. They have two antennas and three long appendages on their back ends, like tails. Silverfish prefer warm, damp spots so are common in laundry rooms and bathrooms.

Silverfish Lifecycle

Silverfish eggs are tiny, about 1/25th of an inch in length. They are laid in cracks, cloth, buried in food or dust, or in other such places. Silverfish usually lay around 50 eggs at a time but can lay between 1 and 200. They hatch in 19-32 days. If it is very cold, the eggs will go dormant for up to six weeks and hatch when the temperature warms. Silverfish nymphs are about 1/16th inch long, scaleless, plump, and white. The nymphs look like miniature adults about twelve days after their fourth molt. Silverfish molt throughout life. They can live up to three years. 

One of the reasons silverfish like damp places is such places are required during mating. The male dances and touches antennas with the female. When she approves of him, he will lay down a protected capsule containing his sperm, which the female picks up. To keep the capsule from drying out, males prefer to lay them on a moist surface. If there are no moist surfaces, the mating is not as successful because some capsules dry out. 

Problems Silverfish Cause

Silverfish do not bite or sting. They are harmless to humans. However, they have enzymes in their gut that digest cellulose, so they eat dry cereals, flour, pasta, and pet food; paper with glue or paste; wallpaper, book bindings, and starch in clothing. They scrape along the surface of paper instead of biting through it, leaving behind irregular, unconnected holes. They are a major pest in libraries or in other places where books collect. 

Preventing Silverfish

It is always easier to prevent silverfish than it is to eliminate them once they are inside your house. Here are some tips to keep them out.

  • Caulk crevices and cracks in the foundation. 
  • Caulk the openings caused by pipes, electrical wires, and cables entering the house. 
  • Keep basements, laundry rooms, and bathrooms clean and dry. 
  • Fix any water leaks inside the house. 
  • Put dry food in silverfish-proof containers. 
  • Keep the house clean. Household dust and debris are major food sources.  
  • Clean out closets, cabinets, and storage containers periodically. 
  • Reduce the humidity in the house.

Getting Rid Of Silverfish

Getting rid of silverfish is not easy. It is difficult to treat books, the backs of closets and cabinets, and the other places where silverfish hide. Pesticides also pose a danger to you, your family, and your pets.   

Pro Active Pest Control can help. Our technicians have the training to safely manage silverfish. We use pet-friendly treatments and use the least toxic alternative in our treatments. They will kill the silverfish, not your pets. When you contact us, our technician will come out and do a thorough exterior inspection. We then develop a plan to eliminate the pests in your house, including silverfish. We will also treat the exterior of your house to put a barrier up that silverfish can’t pass through. Finally, we will come out bi-monthly or quarterly to re-apply exterior treatments. If needed, we will treat the interior at no extra charge. Contact Pro Active Pest Control today and get rid of your silverfish.