Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Silverfish - (Lepisma saccharina)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/18/2014

Silverfish love a good old book, a warm fire and a nice piece of bread, just like most people.

These little creatures can be found near the dark, warm places of the home (ovens, furnaces, fireplaces, bed, clothes dryer). They have a very unique tapered shape and can appear to be very flat. The most noticeable feature of the Silverfish besides their silver-gray color are the three thread-like tails found at tip of the abdomen.

Silverfish are drawn to dry starchy substances commonly found in pantries. The glue that binds old book pages together is also appetizing to Silverfish. This explains why they might also be found in the pages of old books, or running around libraries: the printing material used in these items is a food source. Amazingly, Silverfish can live for months without eating. They are harmless to humans, though their presence is usually considered a nuisance.

Silverfish bodies are covered with flexible and slippery scales that protect the insect from capture from larger insects such as spiders. This body covering also allows them to neatly fit within the binding edge of a closed book and feed on the paste.

Another interesting facet about these critters is in the time that they take to mature. Southern Silverfish can see adulthood in 24 months whereas Northern-based Silverfish will take longer. No doubt this is due to the warmer temperatures of the Southern states.

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Category: Bristletail
Common name: Silverfish
Scientific Name: Lepisma saccharina
Other Names: Fishmoth

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Thysanura
      Family: Lepismatidae
       Genus: Lepisma
        Species: saccharina

Adult Size (Length): 10mm to 12mm (0.39in to 0.47in)

Identifying Colors: silver, gray

Additional Descriptors: segmented, fast, silver, shiny, tail

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.