Opening a cupboard in the kitchen to grab those all important ingredients for a midnight snack can turn into a fairly heart-stopping experience when one is confronted by scuttling silver insect bodies fleeing the light and perhaps climbing over questing fingers. Most homeowners will be familiar with these small bugs – Silverfish (also known as fishmoths). However, as alarming as the sight of these nocturnal cohabitants might be they will not bite human beings, but they can nonetheless be pests.
Silverfish, which had ancestors that roamed the earth at the time of the dinosaurs have a diet that could best be described as varied. They will eat just about anything that the household will provide. This includes organic matter such as vegetable leavings. They will also quite happily snack on toothpaste, glue and cardboard. They love moist, dark places and kitchen cupboards are like a fast food emporium to them. When a diet of cardboard and toothpaste becomes a little pedestrian they will turn to the variety offered by pasta, sugar and cereal. When that ceases to have an appeal they will move to materials such as silk and cotton – well as leather goods and even synthetic fabrics. these are insects that are opportunistic feeders, to put it mildly.
Although they do not bite Silverfish can cause moderate to severe damage to household goods and foodstuffs. On clothing they will eat holes that cannot be repaired and leave unsightly yellow stains as they feed. Treasured memories stored in the form of photographs are just another food source for Silverfish – they will happily reduce them to tatters. This is all aside from the contamination of foodstuffs stored in your kitchen.
The only predator that is happy to supplement its diet with Silverfish is the spider – yet another reason to welcome our eight-legged friends into our homes – they serve as living pest control measures. However, Silverfish also attract other pests such as ants. Some species of ants and termites actually host Silverfish. In addition, Silverfish eat mould and are attracted to an abundance of this potentially health-threatening fungus. If you have a Silverfish infestation chances are that there are more unwelcome visitors in the vicinity – or are on the way. Here at Surekill we have solutions for pests.
However, Silverfish can be so pervasive in the home that trying to eliminate them by addressing the problem in the kitchen or in spaces used for storing clothing and other textiles could be classified as a fool’s errand. Silverfish are at home in any dark and moist place. They particularly love the comfortable environment that is found under sinks and bathtubs. however, boiler rooms, laundry rooms and garages will also inevitably have Silverfish as residents if they are found in the home. They also love the spaces around heating pipes and hot water cylinders.
Silverfish are also remarkably long-lived – with some individuals happily scurrying around homes for up to eight years before they shuffle off this mortal coil. During this time each female will produce up to 100 eggs. Given that they reproduce extremely quickly what is a nuisance can very quickly turn into an infestation.
Starving them out by potentially ‘Silverfish Proofing’ your home may prove frustrating (but it is a worth a try). With access to water, a Silverfish can happily live for around a year without feeding. During that time it is almost inevitable that given their eating habits they will find food in one form or another.
In reality, the only way that you will be able to control a Silverfish infestation is to turn to chemicals and pesticides, including natural options. For instance, Silverfish do not like citrus – so there may be value in placing natural sents around problem areas.
However, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure – or so the old saying goes – and when it comes to controlling Silverfish this rings true. The best way to ensure that the population of Silverfish does not get out of control is to monitor the humidity levels of the home, sealing off food sources and vacuuming to eliminate mould and such up eggs that might be present in nooks, crannies and carpets.
The best one can hope for is to fight Silverfish to a draw – eliminating them is tremendously difficult. They don’t bite – but they can cause damage and they are a nuisance. if you need to – call in a professional exterminator to deal with the problem.