Written by Anza Goodbar (last updated February 17, 2012)
Silverfish are small insects with elongated bodies that have a fishlike shape. This insect is wingless and moves about in a wiggling motion resembling a fish. They are hatched white but there color changes from light gray to light blue with a metallic shine. They have six legs and to long antennae. They also have three long cerci at the tips of their abdomen, one protruding straight from their body and one facing right the other facing left. They have two compound eye, despite the fact others in their species are eyeless. They are also called fishmoths, carpet sharks, or paramites. Silverfish have a life span of two to eight years.
Silverfish are found primarily in Africa, North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. However, they can also be found in other part of the Pacific region. They thrive in areas where humidity ranges between 75% and 95%. In urban area they can be found in attics, basements, garages, closets and bathrooms. They love the dark and will scatter when the lights come on.
Silverfish reproduce less than 50 eggs each time they mate. The eggs are deposited into crevices until they are ready to hatch. It takes between two weeks and two months for the eggs to hatch. A silverfish will usually lay less than 100 eggs in her lifetime. Silverfish molt as they grow and may molt up to sixty-six times as they mature to adulthood. Full maturation can take up to three years. Silverfish exhibit a rare trait of molting even after they have mated.
A silverfish's diet is mostly sugars and starches. These compounds can be found in everyday items like glue, bookbinding, plaster, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair carpet, clothing, and dandruff. They may also consume cotton, linen, silk and synthetic fibers, other dead insects and even their own exoskeleton. In times of famine, they can live up to a year without eating.
Many people consider silverfish household pests as they are capable of causing considerable damage to property. They can be responsible for contaminating food products; they do not transmit disease of any kind. Earwigs, centipedes and spiders are natural predators of silverfish.
Firebrats are similar to silverfish in shape and coloring. They prefer higher temperatures and humidity. They can be found living in bakeries or other industrial environments that have boilers or furnaces. Just like their counterparts, they are mostly harmless and do not spread disease.
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