Silverfish are common household pests, especially in homes located in humid areas or homes with lots of books. Although they are a very pesky insect, they also have fairly complex and interesting life cycles.

Silverfish are small insects, usually about 10-12 millimeters long. They have long skinny bodies and three legs on each side of their abdomen as well as antennas. Silverfish are usually a shiny silver or gray color, hence the name.

And average silverfish can live for about 5-7 years. They start out as small, ovular eggs that hatch into nymphs. These nymphs essentially look like miniature versions of a full grown silverfish, but they are usually white rather than metallic gray or silver like the adults. As they grow and increase in size, they molt their outer shell sometimes as much as thirty times in one year. A silverfish takes about three years to reach adulthood, and by then the multiple molts will have resulted in the typical metallic silver color.

Silverfish are most well known for feeding on things like fabric and books. They eat most things that are high in carbohydrates, mainly sugars and starches. Because of this, things like book glue and other various adhesives, linens, and dead insects make good sources of food. They will consume almost anything that contains high amounts of carbohydrates, even things like plasters, paper, photos, carpet, sugar, and even hair.

Silverfish prefer dark and damp places close to food sources. Upon finding a food source, they will usually settle in and lay their eggs in the general area of that food source until it’s gone. Silverfish will commonly live inside walls and bookshelves and lay their eggs in carpet. The eggs are usually small, white, and oval shaped. Most female silverfish will lay less than sixty eggs at a time and no more than one-hundred eggs in their lifetime.

Despite some of the destruction they cause, silverfish are essentially harmless. They don’t bite, aren’t poisonous and don’t carry diseases. They are ugly, but if you disturb them they will simply run away and hide. Infestations can be difficult to remove since silverfish can turn almost anything from your clothes to your carpet into food. It’s usually required to call an exterminator and take measures afterwards to prevent the infestation from coming back. It’s usually recommended to vacuum frequently, keep things like books and clothes away from the floor, sanitize, and clean up all traces of food. Taking away their food is the best way to keep them away.

Silverfish are harmless, but can be incredibly annoying and difficult to get rid of. It’s important to learn the signs of infestation and ways to prevent them from settling down in your home.