The Life Cycle of Silverfish
Silverfish are little insects with metallic grey colored scales on their bodies. They pose no serious threat to humans but can do plenty of damage to your property. Learn about the life cycle of silverfish to get a better understanding of these creatures.
Silverfish belong to the order Zygentoma, and they are typically 1 inch long with a tear-drop shape. They move swiftly in a fish-like movement and have metallic grey colored scales on their body. These two factors that went into naming them silverfish.
Life Cycle of Silverfish
The life cycle of silverfish is known as ametabolous metamorphosis. It’s the unique trait of silverfish that isn’t present in other arthropods. Unlike the general reproduction cycle of insects where they pass through 3-4 stages of development, silverfish don’t really go through any transformations.
Upon hatching, there is a small silverfish white in color which lacks scales or functioning genitalia. But the nymph is identical to the adult silverfish in every other aspect. This form of metamorphosis is a primitive development reproduction process. Only those insect species which have existed since the earliest times of life on Earth go through ametabolous metamorphosis.
The average life cycle of silverfish takes 3-4 months to complete. During this time, a silverfish egg completely develops into an adult. Outside conditions and climate play a huge role in determining the exact length of time.
Humid conditions are the ideal habitat for silverfish and play a key role in their growth. Although silverfish can survive in almost all sorts of environments, they prefer damp and conditions to live.
After female silverfish deposit their eggs they may hatch within 19 days if the climate conditions are favorable.
Female silverfish has the ability to reproduce eggs all year, unlike other insects that usually produce once a year. They produce 1 to 3 eggs per day, and they can also lay eggs in clusters. Each cluster will comprise any number of eggs from 2 to 20 depending upon the species. On average, a female silverfish lay up to 100 eggs in its lifetime.
Their eggs measure 1 mm in length and are elliptical in shape. The eggs are white in color and are soft, but after a few hours they turn yellow and toughen up.
Generally, all insects go through molting when they’re transforming from one developmental stage to the other. However, silverfish molt throughout their life. They shed their outer skin during molting to get ready for growth.
Initially, scales are absent on their bodies, but they start appearing after their third molt. Silverfish molt innumerable times in their life, but there is no exact amount of how many molts they will undergo before their death. Generally, the number exceeds 50 molts.
Unlike most other insects that live hardly for a year, the average lifespan of silverfish is quite long as they can live from 2-8 years depending on the climate. Their ability to survive without eating for a long time is the reason behind their long lifespan.
Diet of Silverfish
The diet of silverfish is quite diverse, and they take in a wide-range of items. In particular, they prefer items rich in carbohydrates, protein, and cellulose. They also get attracted to adhesives, glues, and starchy food.
Due to their food preferences, they chew items such as:
- Book bindings
- Old photos
Some species even are fascinated by human hairs, dandruff, and sweat. There are plenty of things silverfish can feed on.
In worst case scenarios, silverfish can survive for a whole year without consuming any food.
They create small holes when they eat it and leave behind yellow stains due to their fecal matter. These are nocturnal insects that come out at night to forage food, and they prefer to live in close proximity to their food sources. You will usually find them nesting in the dark, and tight cracks near food items.
Silverfish live in both indoor and outdoor settings and look for dark hidden spots to make a home in.
Outdoors they prefer to nest in hidden spots including under:
- Leaf litter
- Bird’s nests
- Wood pile
Indoors, especially in homes, they look for cool and damp places to live such as:
- Laundry rooms
The ideal conditions for them to thrive include places with high moisture and temperatures around 70 – 80° Fahrenheit. However, silverfish are quite resilient and can bear all climatic conditions, but they flourish in humidity. Their nymphs especially require damp surroundings to grow swiftly.
Key predators of silverfish include spiders, centipedes, and earwigs, they fondly feed upon silverfish, and aid in keeping their population under control both indoors and outdoors.***
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