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Most housewives go into a total panic if they see a silverfish wriggling along their closet wall or in their bathtubs. It is a startling thing to see granted, and yes if you see one, there are more, and yes it probably means that you have a silverfish infestation.
Silverfish are so named because they tend to be silver hued, and their elongated bodies with larger heads that taper down to very small tails make them appear to be very fishlike. The pest is scaly and usually has a very silvery sheen. Most of them will hide at daytime, but are more active in the nighttime, which is when they hunt or forage for their food. They prefer damp and cool situations, such as those with 75%-97% humidity and at 72-81°F. Thus it is ideally suited to live with mankind. Mostly, however, they get their name because of their specific wriggling method of propulsion moving in a very fishlike manner. Scientifically they are known as lepisma saccharina, which literally translated means "sugar eater."
It is rare to find a name for a pest that seemingly is translated the same in different languages, but the silverfish is such an apt description for this pest that the following has been observed. In Spanish it is a pececillo de plata, in Italian pesciolino d'argento and in French it is poisson d'argent--all literally translated as silver fish!
They generally live to be over 3 years of age, and the female will lay approximately 100 eggs in its lifetime. More often than not it will take 4-6 weeks for it to grow from the egg stage to nymph and eventually to adulthood.
Both the immature as well as the adults devour bits and pieces of items that contain carbohydrates as well as protein. Thus, they prefer paper products that may contain starch, glue, gum, casein and dextrin. This includes items such as important papers, books, photo albums, wallpaper, and carpeting, all starched fabrics, furs and leather. In addition they will feed on their own species if injured or dead, and will eat their own exoskeleton after being shed which happens to them a lot even after mating, thus, they shed anywhere from 17 to 66 times within their lifetime. Silverfish are not endangered nor are they in any way or manner threatened.
As a deterrent, and if you can stand the odor, many people utilize mothballs or mothball crystals to allay silverfish. Another eradication method is the use of pesticide desiccants. Desiccants will destroy insects by actually causing their bodies to dry out as they crawl through the pesticide. You can also purchase boric acid, which is pushed into crevices where the silverfish may have laid their eggs. Interestingly enough boric acid is quite a safe choice in buildings occupied by humans since boric acid has very low toxicity and it stays effectual for an extremely extended time. You may also find that general-use home pesticides that contain substances such as synthetic or organic pyrethrins will decimate silverfish as well, simply look for the names ending in “thrin.”
In addition, you may be interested in silverfish traps that are out there, specifically to entice silverfish to enter them through the use of scientifically created pheromones. Pheromones are an especially secreted chemical factor, for example sex attractants, that draws a member of the same species to it but what the silverfish does not know is that the inside of the bait has been lined with a sticky substance that will trap the silverfish where it will die. After a certain time you simply throw away the trap and replace it with a new one which will definitely rid you of your silverfish infestation.