Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina)

Where Usually Found

In dark, sheltered, moist crevices, away from drying winds. Typical places inside the house include kitchen cupboards, bathrooms, in stored paper, bookshelves and under insulation in roof areas. Outside, silverfish are found in leaf litter, under stones, logs, or bark; some varieties live in the nests of ants and termites.

What they do

Eat dead plants or plant products such as paper, glue,Silverfish will damage paper flour, starch and book bindings. Silverfish do not carry any diseases known to harm man or domestic animals.

How to control ( by natural means )

Store papers in boxes with close-fitting lids. Avoid keeping books in cupboards with solid doors. Open shelves or glass doors will admit light, which silverfish do not like. Stick down lining paper in kitchen cupboards as loose-fitting paper or lino provides an ideal hiding place for silverfish. Open shelves and close-fitting storage jars also help reduce the number of silverfish in a kitchen. Silverfish cannot climb smooth surfaces and so are often trapped in glasses, cups or basins. Moisture is absorbed through the skin so they are susceptible to high vapour insecticides.

Life history and other comments

A silverfish is covered with small silver scales which tend to rub off when handled or as an insect grows old. The name "fish" is presumably derived from the silver sheen of the scalesSilverfish and perhaps the shape of the insect, although it is not really very fish like. Silverfish are also called bristletails, which refers to the three 'tails' which are almost as long as the two antennae at the front of the animal. Each tail has a number of bristles, as do the upper and lower parts of the body. the bristles act like sensors, like the whiskers of a cat. At one time hundreds of millions of years ago, the ancestors of the insects living today had more than three pairs of legs. Of all insects now living, silverfish are most like these long extinct animals. If a silverfish is turned over, remnants of legs no longer functional can be seen toward the rear of the body and at the front, where the legs have evolved into mouthparts. Like the earliest insect, silverfish never grow wings. Silverfish live for several years. The male leaves a parcel of sperm on the ground, which the female picks up and inserts in her body. She lays about ten eggs at a time, which take from ten to sixty days to hatch, according to the temperature and the type of silverfish. Upon hatching the young silverfish look like miniature adults, but lack the characteristic silver scales. The inelastic skin is shed at intervals throughout the insects lifetime.

Where to obtain professional advice


Melvyn or Kevin Gilbert. Phone. 03 3841636 (NEW ZEALAND)

Enquires and bookings

For inquires and free advice you can contact us via email or on 03 384 1636 from 8.30am - 5pm Monday to Friday.

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03 3841636