Types of Silverfish: How to Identify Them
Silverfish are primitive insects who have existed on Earth even before cockroaches. Originating from the tropics, their adaptive nature has helped them adapt to various environments across the globe.
There are many types of silverfish, but all are omnivorous in nature and belong to the family Thysanura. They are swift movers who got their name because of their fish-like movement.
As nocturnal creatures, they usually come out at night to forage for food. However, they are capable of living without food for several months. Sometimes an entire year can pass without them consuming anything.
They typically live outdoors but many times accidentally make their way indoors. Mostly they end up hitchhiking in furniture, books, cardboard boxes, and papers you may bring into your home.
Read on to learn more about 3 common types of silverfish, and their characteristics.
Types of Silverfish
Out of all the different types of silverfish, this one is the most common that you will encounter. Commonly found in all regions of the world, common silverfish got their name because of their wide habitat. The common silverfish resembles a centipede, except silverfish have just six legs.
They have a teardrop-shaped body which also resembles a carrot sometimes. Their body has shiny metallic scales giving it a silver metallic sheen. On average, they measure approximately half an inch in length with three protruding tail-like growths at the end of the body.
Generally, these types of silverfish love warm and humid climates. Indoors you will usually find them in basements, bathrooms, crawlspaces, and the garage because of the dampness of these places.
The ideal temperature for most types of silverfish to thrive is 70-80° Fahrenheit and a high humidity level.
They are sensitive to outdoor lights, especially sunlight, and so they hide during the daytime. Due to this light sensitivity, they have a nocturnal activity cycle.
They prefer foods high in proteins and carbohydrates, and usually feed upon the following household items:
- Carpet glue
- Wallpaper paste/glue
- Household Dust
- Dead skin cells
- Dead insects
- Coffee beans and coffee grounds
The average lifespan of common silverfish is anywhere from 2 – 8 years. They keep on molting for their entire life.
Grey silverfish don’t have the typical metallic silver color to them but are dull-grey in color. They can measure up to 1 inch in length and are often referred to as giant silverfish. Until now, they are the largest types of silverfish discovered. They have a flat tear-drop shaped body, and their antennae are longer than their body’s length.
Unlike common silverfish, these types of silverfish aren’t very particular about humidity. But they do prefer considerably hot environments with temperatures ranging from 80-85° Fahrenheit.
They are solitary in nature and are commonly spotted indoors with the least chances of disturbance. You will find them seeking shelter in attics, basements, closets, storage spaces, vents, and pipes. They are also nocturnal and come out at night to find food.
This silverfish species is known for consuming both plant and animal-based materials and they obtain their essential dose of water from their food, instead of directly drinking water. They prefer to take in dry and starchy food items such as:
- Wallpaper glue
- Chemical pulp content
- Cleansing tissue
- Onion skin
- Animal-based food like beef extract
The average lifespan of these types of silverfish is from 2-8 years. They usually gain sexual maturity after 2-3 years of their birth and live 5 or more years as adults.
Firebrats are rectangular shaped belonging to the same family to which silverfish belong, making them close relatives. They are darker in color compared to silverfish and measure 1-1.5 cm in length. These insects have a dark, mottled grey colored body which possesses distinct dark patches of scales on the back.
Firebrats need high temperatures to survive. The ideal temperature for them is 90° Fahrenheit or higher. So, they are usually found near fireplaces, boilers, and furnaces. They can also be found in the insulation of a home around heating pipes.
Firebrats are nocturnal species and come out at night to feed on book bindings and paper products. They also will feed on protein and carbohydrate-rich food; from dead insects to dog food. Any product containing starchy glue and cellulose. After they bite books and papers they leave behind irregular holes.
The average lifespan of firebrats is 3-5 years, and they keep on molting throughout their life.
Jumping bristletails are an insect species which resemble silverfish because of their abdomen. Their hunched backs resemble that of a shrimp, and they have 3 tail-like extensions from the abdomen just like in silverfish. They measure from 10mm – 15 mm (0.39 in – 0.59 in) in length.
Their grey or silver colored body bear reflective scales which gives a coppery metallic color sheen under the light. They have the ability to jump several inches in the air.
Usually found outdoors, jumping bristletails prefer moist areas, and are usually found living under stones, rubble, and decaying leaves.
Bristletails rarely inhabit indoors as they are unable to reproduce in indoor settings, unlike silverfish.
The diet of bristletails comprises of dead and decaying matter which include algae, fungi, dead leaves, decaying vegetable, and lichens.
These are only some of the types of silverfish, there are so many more known species throughout the world.
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