Today we will investigate two photos we received from a reader. He also sent us this short message, “What is this? My wife was sweeping and found this in the pile.” In the first photograph, the creature is right side up, so we can see what the top of its body looks like:
The specimen is a brown or gray color, with 13 segments on its body. It has a round head and a tapered tail. It looks like it might have two long appendages coming from its head, but this might also just be hair or other debris in the pile of sweepings. Let’s take a look at the underside:
The underside looks similar to the topside of the creature, except it is white. We believe this specimen is a silverfish! Silverfish are teardrop-shaped insects that are less than 1 inch long. They are named for their silvery-grey color, and because they look like a fish when they move. These household pests can live in most climates, but prefer dark and damp areas like kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and attics.
Silverfish primarily eat sugars and starches. They feed on the cellulose in shampoos and the glue in books, as well as clothing, dead insects, and linens. Silverfish sneak into a home through openings between the doors, walls, and windows, or through cracks in the ventilation systems. They are also sometimes brought into a home unknowingly in cardboard boxes and storage containers.
Getting rid of silverfish can be a difficult process because they are nocturnal and extremley fast. This means that a silverfish infestation may go unnoticed for a long time and therefore might have become quite a problem before people notice it even exists. One way to locate the infestation is to use sticky traps. Then, small steps can be taken to reduce the number of silverfish in a home. These steps include cleaning the kitchen and bathroom (or the area of the infestation), and clearing out unused products and food items. Our reader can also install a dehumidifier, which will reduce the moisture levels in the home. Finally, sealing up doors, windows, and vents will prevent future silverfish from getting into the house.
To wrap up, one of our readers reached out to us about a specimen his wife swept up in their home. We have identified the creature as a silverfish. Getting rid of silverfish usually just involves cleaning, but some people hire professional pest control agents to assist them with an infestation.