Silverfish

These lightning quick flashes of silver which like to inhabit damp nooks and crannies within our homes are thought to be one of the oldest insects in the world, having inhabited this planet before the dinosaurs even existed!  Silverfish are exceptionally fast and use their speed to escape predators such as spiders and centipedes.

Fast Facts

Latin name: Lepisma saccharina

Notable feature: silver in colour with long, carrot shaped bodies and a ‘fish’ like, scaled appearance.

Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common

Where in the UK: throughout the UK. When to see: throughout year but often nocturnal.

(c) Bill and Mark Bell

Despite the fact these curious little insects carry no diseases and pose no serious threat to humans they have long been denounced as a pest. This is probably due to the diversity of the Silverfish diet which does not match well with modern living. Silverfish are not predators but they can cause problems in the home where they will devour anything from which they can get their starchy fix, from wallpaper to clothes, books, glue and even jam!

There is no physical contact between mating silverfish. Instead, there can be a lengthy courtship ‘dance’ or ‘chase’ which can last up to an hour and a half. After which the male spins a small silken thread and places a drop of sperm on to it. The female will collect this sperm and use it to fertilise her egg. Juvenile silverfish look very much like their adult selves only slightly smaller. They will moult many times before they reach maturity and will continue to moult during their adult life (up to 30 times a year)! Silverfish can live up to eight years.