Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina
) are ancient and primitive wingless insects. They have a silvery, scaled flat body which tapers back to three characteristic tail-like appendages, two of which (cerci) point to the sides, while the center one points straight back. On the head end, they have two long antennae. When mature, L. saccharina
individuals are typically about 1-2 centimeters long, and move quickly with a fish-like, wiggling motion. Silverfish are long-lived, frequently surviving longer than three years, even up to six years, and the adults molt for their entire lives. Lepisma saccharina
produce few young. They are mostly nocturnal. In their natural habitat they stay hidden among leaf litter, frequenting crevices in logs, bark and under rocks. Lepisma saccharina
is a common household pest, found world-wide. Its carbohydrate heavy diet leads it to eat paper and paper products that contain glue, starch, dextrin, and casein, so it is also a common pest in libraries, where it eats through book bindings and pages. They also can infest cereal foodstuffs, fabrics, and wallpaper in buildings. Sometimes confused with the closely related firebrat, silverfish differ in that they prefer cool, damp environments (70-80oF) while the firebrat (Thermobia domestica
) seeks out warmer areas (100oF).
; Houseman 2007
; Klass 1981