5 Facts About Silverfish and Firebrats

When you first encounter a silverfish or firebrat, it can be an unsettling experience if you’re squeamish about bugs. Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) and firebrats (Thermobia domestica) have two long antennae at the front end, three long tail-like growths at the rear, and a slinky, gliding way of racing across surfaces that’s rather creepy.

If you have silverfish or firebrats in your home, you probably also have questions. Here are five facts about silverfish and firebrats to give you some answers.

  1. Silverfish and Firebrats Look Scarier Than They Really Are

As noted above, silverfish and firebrats seem to appear out of nowhere and slither away with lots of fanfare and speed. All of the appendages waving about tend to make humans fearful of bites or stings. However, their weak little mandibles make it extremely rare for either of the insects to bite people, and they’re not venomous.

Silverfish also:

  • Range between ¼ and ½ inch in length
  • Have no wings
  • Have carrot-shaped bodies
  • Do not carry human diseases

Silverfish and firebrats look nearly identical except in color. Silverfish — as their name implies — are completely gray-silver in color. Firebrats are colored more warmly, with mottled brown and gray bodies.

  1. Silverfish and Firebrats Are Polite and Unobtrusive

You might have a whole colony of silverfish living inside your home and not even realize it. One day, you pull a book down from a shelf or head down to the basement for a dryer check, and all of a sudden a silverfish pops out from the book’s pages or from underneath the washing machine.

Silverfish and firebrats are quiet roommates. Once they settle indoors, they wait until it’s dark to wander around your home. Because of their compact form, they can live behind loose wallpaper and under floor tiles. They can slide easily into a bookbinding or a cardboard-box flap.

Homeowners often mistake firebrats for cockroaches after they see one dart away. If people pay attention, they’ll notice that the silverfish or firebrat scurries, then stops for a moment, then darts away in a characteristic travel pattern. Cockroaches run for cover without hesitation most of the time.

  1. Silverfish and Firebrats Are Looking for Sugar

While silverfish and firebrats look rather furious and easily provoked, they’re not aggressive. These insects just want something sweet and starchy. Humans are not on their dietary menu.

Silverfish and firebrats will eat human food that you leave out, and they’re very fond of sweetened breakfast cereal. If a food has sugar, grains, and proteins, a silverfish wants some.

Silverfish and firebrats don’t stop at eating food, though. They also chew on materials including:

  • Cotton and linen fabrics
  • Rayon and silk
  • Clothes starch
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Dried glue
  • Bookbindings
  • Prints and etchings

A few small silverfish or firebrats can’t do much damage. A larger colony of silverfish or firebrats can cause serious destruction of paper materials and goods.

  1. Silverfish and Firebrat Invasions Are Easily Prevented

Silverfish and firebrats come inside when you let them inside. A silverfish or firebrat invasion can start with a book you pick up at a yard sale. A leak in a gutter can drip onto your foundation and attract silverfish into the basement.

The two things that silverfish and firebrats adore are warmth and humidity. The firebrat likes it really hot, but both insects stop breeding when temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you want silverfish and firebrats to leave your home, basements, closets, and other areas alone, clean up all leaks, damp spots, and humid areas that are near sources of warmth. The areas under loose bathroom tiles, wallpaper pockets, and washing machines are often damp and warm enough for silverfish.

Be thorough in your search for humidity and moisture around your home. Use a dehumidifier in rooms where you have recurring moisture problems. A dehumidifier is a must in rooms where you store books, artwork, and other paper materials. Use it whenever the air inside or outside your home turns soggy if you want to keep silverfish out of your favorite novels.

  1. Current Silverfish and Firebrat Invasions Require Action

If you see more than one silverfish or firebrat within a short time period, chances are good that you have a nest of the insects in your basement or somewhere else in your home. Your pest control company can set traps in key areas to monitor the movement and access of silverfish.

Because of their experience and training, pest control experts know the areas that are most likely to harbor silverfish or firebrat nests. They also know the signs of silverfish and firebrat infestation, which include:

  • Small holes in fabrics
  • Uneven wear on page edges
  • Yellow stains on paper products
  • Pepper-like feces

Occasionally, people have allergies to silverfish, so the insects must be eliminated as soon as possible. Pesticides are not necessarily used for small silverfish invasions but can be used in serious infestations. Trapping, containing, and removing the pests are common solutions. Addressing moisture issues and access will keep the silverfish and firebrats away.

Contact A-Alert Exterminating Service, Inc., today to schedule treatment for silverfish or firebrats in your home or business. We’ve been dealing with creepy-crawly bugs for residential and commercial customers since 1973 in the Greater Chicago, Illinois region. We’re here for you, too.

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