In the insect world's hierarchy of horror, or pyramid of panic, silverfish are somewhere towards the bottom—and shouldn't cause much horror or panic. They're relatively harmless; as in they're not known for causing much damage to the average home, nor are they likely to be a source of illness. That being said, you still don't want to be sharing your living spaces with them. What should you do when you start spotting silverfish around your home?
A Brief Description
Averaging 0.33 inches in length, silverfish are wingless and nocturnal. Often the first sign of silverfish in the home is the insects scuttling back to their hiding places when the lights in a room are turned on. They're not just nocturnal; they also aren't fond of light. The name is derived from the fact that the insects are a metallic gray (or silver) color.
Why They're Annoying
Favoring warm, humid locations in the home (silverfish are likely to nest in the walls of the bathroom), they have habits that can be compared with the common clothes moth or paper mites. Silverfish can eat clothing and paper, but may not be as destructive as other insects who share a similar diet.
Why They Can Be a Problem for Humans
Silverfish don't pose much of a risk to a person's health, but there are exceptions. When they shed their skins, the remnants are flaky and quickly become fine dust. This can be an irritant to someone who is prone to allergies, or someone with a compromised respiratory system. Any effects are more likely to be an annoyance, instead of a major health concern.
Time to Take Action
The very fact that silverfish can cause damage (however minor), and may have the ability to trigger allergies or respiratory irritation (again, however minor) means that action should be taken if you begin to regularly spot silverfish around your home. What's the best action you should take to manage a silverfish infestation?
Insect control for silverfish starts with removing anything that might be tempting the pests into your home. Be sure to keep your kitchen as clean as possible—removing all food scraps and wiping down all surfaces. Installing a few silverfish traps can be extremely effective, but exercise caution as these can be harmful to pets. If your traps don't yield results, or if it appears that the silverfish population in your home exceeds the capacity of any trap, call in the exterminators. Professional insect control for silverfish isn't all that intensive when compared to other insects, and there are non-toxic options available.
Silverfish are a minor problem, but they're a problem nonetheless. If you begin to see scuttling, silvery creatures hurrying out of the way when you turn the lights on, it's time to go (silver) fishing.