Silverfish and Firebrats
Life Cycle and Habits:
Silverfish are active at night and hide during the day. When objects are moved where they are hiding, they dart out and seek new hiding places. The silverfish lives and develops in damp, cool places (prefers 75 to 95 percent relative humidity), often in the basement, bathroom and kitchen. Large numbers may be found in new buildings where the walls are still damp from plaster and green lumber.
The Silverfish is quick moving and lives in dark places above 90 degrees Fº such as around ovens, furnaces, boiler rooms and fireplaces or insulation around hot water and heat pipes. These insects follow pipelines from the basement to rooms on lower floors, living in bookcases, around closet shelves, behind baseboards and behind window or door frames. They are hardy and can live without food for many months. Bristletails prefer to eat vegetable matter. Indoors, they will feed on rolled oats, dried beef, flour, starch, paper and paper sizing (which contains starch), gum and cereals. Outdoors, they can be found under rocks, bark and leaf mold, and in ant, termite, bird and animal nests.
Silverfish females may lay over 100 eggs during a lifetime. Eggs are laid singly or two to three at a time in small groups, hatching in three to six weeks. Young silverfish resemble adults except being smaller, white and take on the adult color in four to six weeks. Adults may live two to eight years. Silverfish lay about 50 eggs at one time in several batches. Eggs hatch in about two weeks under ideal conditions.
Silverfish depending on the species, may reach maturity in three to twenty-four months. These insects normally hitchhike into the home in food, furniture, old books, papers and old starched clothing. Unlike other insects, they continue to molt after becoming adults. Forty-one molts have been recorded for one Silverfish. Populations do not build up fast. A large infestation in the house usually indicates a longtime infestation.
Silverfish Extermination Measures:
Sanitation is important but not entirely effective in reducing populations because insects often reside between wall partitions, in insulation materials, in books and papers, among book shelves and in other protected places. However, be sure to remove old stacks of newspapers, magazines, papers, books and fabrics plus foodstuffs spilled and stored for long periods of time. Often reducing available water and lowering the home's relative humidity with dehumidifiers and fans is helpful. Repair leaking plumbing and eliminate moisture around laundry areas. Lighting a dark, sheltered area may force these insects to move to new sites where they can be controlled more easily. Once the infestation has been eliminated, sanitation will help prevent reinfestation.
Treatments for silverfish control need to be applied thoroughly to all potential hiding places such as cracks, crevices, inside floor moldings, around steam and water pipes, in and behind seldom moved furniture, closets and even attics. It may be necessary to drill small holes in the walls to treat large
All firebrats are vegetable eaters, some are subterranean or live in caves, and others are found in ant and termite nests. Most species remain hidden under bark or in leaf litter and require relatively high humidity. Of the 320 species of silverfish and firebrats found throughout the world, 18 species occur in North America. Of these 18, two species are major cosmopolitan pests, the common silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) and the firebrat (Thermobia domestica). Both of these species occur in domestic situations, feed on starchy materials and may be able to withstand considerable drying. They can also survive long periods without food.