Silverfish and its look-alike cousin, firebrat, are both known for their nasty habit of destroying clothing and book pages as they nibble on them. Also called bristletails because of their 3 whisker-shaped tail appendages, silverfish and firebrats can be found all over the US.
Do Silverfish and Firebrats Bite?
Despite their appearance, silverfish and firebrats aren’t known for biting or stinging people. However, the same can’t be said for most of your precious household items. These wingless insects will nibble on your possessions from paper and dried food products to fabric.
via Wikimedia Commons
These insects are nocturnal creatures and will hide for most parts of the day. Once nighttime comes, they go out to wander around and feed. Silverfish and firebrats all like dry foods including oatmeal, book bindings, any paper with glue on it, pet food, and flour. What’s more, they like munching on cotton, silk, and linen, but they also eat protein-rich foods such as dead insects, fungi, and dried meats. These insects are also cannibalistic. They’ll make a hearty meal out of injured or dead members of their kind.
A male silverfish will attract a female with a mating dance that involves antennae touching and some head bobbing. Afterwards, the male will then leave the female a sperm capsule. A female silverfish will lay its eggs in an area that’s protected. It may also burry its eggs in your food or in household dust. A female lays up to 50 eggs. Adults will live up to 3 years.
Silverfish and firebrats all have tapered bodies that are shaped like teardrops. Sometimes they resemble fishes with 3 bristle-like tails. A silverfish is shiny in appearance with its body length reaching half an inch or ¾ of an inch. As for a firebrat, it’s also shiny but it has a mottled gray or brown color. It is usually half an inch long. Both insects have fragile scales, which fall off easily and cling to surfaces.
Silverfish and Firebrats in a Home or Apartment
A silverfish likes damp environments that are not too cold or too warm. Silverfish are often found strewn across laundry rooms, but they also live in wall voids, under floorboards, and in attics. As for firebrats, they prefer environments that are dry and warm. They hide and breed around ovens, hot water pipes, and heating units. Both insects will invade homes during the summer season as conditions outside start becoming dry. Firebrats and silverfish also hitchhike into your home on lumber and drywall. These pests ruin books, documents, and clothing pieces with their habit of feeding.