After discovering the creepy existence of plaster bagworms last year, I had another lucky encounter with an insect that I had never before seen in the 20 odd years of my life.
I found it among my LAUNDRY just about to scurry away.
My sister knowledgeably informed me that it was a silverfish
Apparently, it is a well-known pest.
The silverfish, also known as a fishmoth or carpet shark, is named after its shimmery, silvery scales and the other part of its name, no doubt, came because of the way it slithers across surfaces like a swimming fish.
Silverfish are one of the oldest insects in the world
According to pest management site Terminix, they have been crawling around for more than 400 million years and even predate the dinosaurs by at least 100 million years.
However, for all that time, these insects never developed wings.
With a flattened elongated body, three bristle-like appendages on its back, and super long antennas, they make up for the lack of flight with extreme speed.
Only one to 2cm big, their scurrying speed helps them quickly dart for cover, making them hard to kill or step on when discovered.
These pests like warm, humid places such as the kitchen and the bathroom
Silverfish are especially attracted to paper and fabric, which is why you will commonly find them lurking in old books, stacks of newspapers you've set aside to recycle, moulting wallpaper, boxes of old photographs in the storeroom, and yes, damp laundry.
This is because they feed on polysaccharides, which are carbohydrates found in starches, glues, and paper products. They also like feeding on fallen food crumbs, loose human hairs, and other dead insects.
Nonetheless, silverfish are generally harmless to humans
They do not bite human skin and are not known to carry pathogens or other potentially damaging diseases.
But the same simply cannot be said for your old belongings.
Once these sneaky pests find a satisfactory food source, they remain close to it and an infestation can cause significant damage to cardboard, paper products, and old clothes that are normally stored away in basements and attics.
Worse yet, these insects remain elusive because they hide in nooks and crannies during the day and only actively eat during the night.
Using what we know so far though, we can prevent these primitive creeps from invading our homes
As also suggested by pest control guide Terminix:
- Limit their food sources by keeping dry foods (such as cereals, rice, and pasta) in airtight containers.
- Vacuum carpets, floors, and even your sofas regularly to help remove fallen food crumbs and loose hairs.
- Use dehumidifiers in damp areas such as your laundry room and basements to help remove the moisture that silverfish enjoy.
- Always avoid or repair water leaks as soon as possible and ensure your home drainage system runs smoothly.
- Close cracks and crevices in the wall with caulk and make sure your walls are well painted.
Otherwise, you might have to deal with damage like this