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Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Silverfish

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

Updated: 04/30/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 have a low profile. An important feature used for identifying a Silverfish besides its silver-gray color is the trio of 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 a Silverfish. This explains why they might also be found between 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 regarding Silverfish is the long time it takes for them to reach maturity. Southern Silverfish grow into adulthood in 24 months, and Northern-based Silverfish take longer.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Silverfish

dry cereal; glue; starch; flour; stiffeners
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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Segmented insect icon
Shiny insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Thysanura
        Family: Lepismatidae
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          Genus: Lepisma
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            Species: saccharina
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lepisma saccharina
Other Name(s): Fishmoth
Category: Bristletail
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 12mm (0.39" to 0.47")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: silver; gray
Descriptors: segmented; fast; silver; shiny; tail; pantry

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 12mm (0.5in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 11mm
Hi: 12mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Silverfish may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Silverfish. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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