Fun Silverfish Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Jan 19, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Fun Silverfish Facts For Kids
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.3 Min

Silverfish is not a fish; it is an insect, an Old World invertebrate belonging to the phylum Arthropoda of kingdom Animalia. Silverfish have a pair of antennae on their head, which assists them as a sensory organ in picking up motions and vibrations. These silver fishes occur in damp or moist areas in houses. Their occurrence is considered as a sign of either a dirty house or some other underlying problem. They feed on starch from the old books and newspapers and hence are considered very important decomposers. Belonging to the genus of Lepisma, a silverfish is scientifically known as Lepisma saccharina, where the species name saccharine originates from the word Saccharum or starch (sugar).

In order to get rid of a silverfish infestation, pest control and pest management are the only suggested solutions. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the silverfish insect for your perusal. Afterward, do check our other articles on huntsman spider facts and praying mantis facts as well.

Silverfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a silverfish?

Silverfish is an insect belonging to the phylum Arthropoda. These nocturnal insects hide in the dark and avoid direct sunlight. These fish-like insects feed on dead insects and plant materials to cater to their requirement for protein and carbohydrates.

What class of animal does a silverfish belong to?

Silverfish belong to the order zygentoma, the order of silverfish insects of the class Insecta. The silverfish is a cosmopolitan insect that has a genus name Lepisma, which is the genus of primitive insects.

How many silverfish are there in the world?

There is no proper count of the population of silverfish insects, but sighting them in good numbers can be an indication of silverfish infestation in a place. The place where they infest, they can be found hundreds in number. They are known to cause significant damage by chewing holes in paper goods, clothing, and upholstery. They eat protein-rich foods and carbohydrates in the form of sugar and starches.

Where does a silverfish live?

Silverfish populations are spread across Africa, America, Eurasia, Australia, and many other parts of the Pacific. These bugs thrive in humidity. Hence they can be found in attics, basements, cardboard boxes, plastic containers, wood lying on the ground virtually anywhere inside a home that is dark, damp, and humid.

What is a silverfish's habitat?

Silverfish are found in damp, humid areas like the attics, basements, damp walls, cardboard boxes, plastic containers, wood lying on the ground, and leaky roofs. You may also find these in old stuff like books and newspapers feeding on the saccharides in it. These bugs inflict considerable damage by creating holes in different materials. Silverfish are nocturnal animals that can be found in the wild near streams and river areas.

Who do silverfish live with?

These cosmopolitan wingless insects are never found in groups, not even in a pair of two. They mostly dwell alone, feeding and hunting for food. Pest control and pest management are the only viable solutions against home silverfish infestation as silverfish traps, and insecticides are useful only against individual insects and not against an entire colony.

How long does a silverfish live?

It takes almost two years for juvenile silverfish to turn into adult ones. These quiet insects live between three to six years on average. Reports suggest that they may even live up to a span of eight years in ideal conditions.

How do they reproduce?

Silverfish breeds throughout the year in their suitable habitats. Before mating, they perform a ritual courtship display which is divided into three phases. These rituals last for over half an hour, after which the male deposits sperm in the female gonad. A female silverfish at a time lays around 60 eggs in the crevices of the house. After silverfish eggs hatch, larvae are born, wherein the nymphs resemble adults. They molt and develop a shiny metallic body. These juveniles turn into adults in the span of three months to three years after birth.

What is their conservation status?

Silverfish insects are not extinct; as a matter of fact, silverfish in the house is a common sight across most continents. The population status of silverfish bugs is not known, but their numbers are reported stable in various places. Silverfish larvae don't really interfere with humans; hence humans are not that big of a threat unless spotted in big numbers as in a pest infestation.

Silverfish Fun Facts

What do silverfish look like?

Lepisma saccharina is a nocturnal arthropod whose whole body is composed of a metallic shiny silver-colored exoskeleton and is very well segmented. Their head is broad, and the lower abdomen is tapering in appearance. There is a presence of two ceric on either side of the tail end and a long filament at the end of the tail.  Unlike other members of zygentoma, a silverfish has compound eyes like other members of phylum Arthropoda. They are wingless insects and have antennae on their head that move with a wiggling motion.

Silverfish

How cute are they?

A silverfish is an insect that dwells in dirty and damp places. They are not really cute but kind of gross in nature. These insects are a nuisance and are seen eating almost anything.

How do they communicate?

These insects are not very vocal but have their own unique ways of communicating. During mating, they can communicate with their mates through a unique way of courtship display. They also communicate with other members of the same species through a release of pheromones which help them in finding the location.

How big is a silverfish?

A silverfish is sort of similar in behavior as that of a cockroach, but they are half the size of the Blatta orientalis species. An average adult silverfish measures around 0.5-1.0 in (1.27-2.54 cm) long.

How fast can a silverfish move?

A silverfish is a fast insect. Its speed is not really known but is seen darting or jumping really fast in the opposite direction on sensing a threat. These insects live solitary in crevices, they may be seen in old stuff feeding on it, but as soon as they sense a threat, they crawl away very fast.

How much does a silverfish weigh?

A silverfish is a very small insect and weighs less than an ounce. These arthropods are lightweight and swift creatures.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both the male and female species of silverfish are referred to by the same names and do not really have distinct names. Superficially, they appear very similar with their shorter tail and antenna in comparison to their body. But to find the difference in the female and male silverfish, one has to observe them during courtship display where they perform a ritual before mating. There we can see both males and females in their distinct roles.

What would you call a baby silverfish?

A baby silverfish is referred to as a nymph. These nymphs resemble adult silverfish. Nymph molt around thirty times in their juvenile stage. Unlike other insects, these insects, after turning into adults, keep molting and shedding their exoskeleton.

What do they eat?

Silverfish do not really require water, but they require protein and sugar, for which they eat old stuff like newspapers, books, and old fabric present in the household. The only known predators of silverfish are spiders, centipedes, and earwigs. Ants and termites actually use silverfish as hosts.

Are they dangerous?

These insects are very docile. They may cause infestations but are not dangerous. Silverfish bite is a myth as they do not bite humans; hence they are not really dangerous to live, but they do pose a danger to human property such as woods, fabrics, garments, paper, containers, and upholstery. They also do not bite pet animals. A sign of silverfish infestation is its droppings that are black and spherical in appearance, like pepper.

Would they make a good pet?

These insects are solitary, and also they are very small in size. They live in dirty areas and are not meant to be taken as pets. They live and breed in large numbers, and hence if taken as pets, they might escape and feed on all your stuff! Hence it is not advisable to take them as pets in any condition but rather get rid of them by using traps, insecticides, or any other suggested methods. While they are not poisonous, you must keep your cats or dogs away from this insect.

Did you know...

A silverfish is a very important decomposer. This pest will feed on almost anything and decompose them. This process is essential for carrying out the natural life cycle and maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.

These resilient insects can survive for weeks without food and water.

Silverfish do not travel in water but can crawl along the outside of plumbing pipes.

Silverfish also frequently infest attics and closets, where they feed on books, clothing, and paper.

What are silverfish attracted to?

Silverfishes are found in old books, newspapers, and fabric. Since these materials are made up of sugars and proteins, the silverfish pest decomposes these into simple sugars and amino acids which they feed on for nutrients. You can have a silverfish in your house if there are areas with a lot of humidity or moisture, such as the laundry room or basement. These insects can climb up the bed as well.

How to get rid of silverfish?

There are a few ways one can use to get rid of silverfish pest infestation.

Get rid of old newspapers and fabrics. Make sure that there are no damp and moist places in the house. You may use mothballs as they will not kill silverfish but serve as a deterrent from areas where they are placed. Put up a container full of starch with tape on the outer surface in which the silverfish may crawl in and may not escape. Use essential oils or vinegar to repel these insects from clothes and books. Cleaning the hair thoroughly with a suitable shampoo is essential to get rid of silverfish in the hair. Avail of professional fumigation and pest control services to get rid of silverfish. Wash the clothes at a high-speed setting in the washing machine to kill silverfish and its eggs. Create a DIY silverfish trap to catch this insect.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these oriental cockroach facts and saddleback caterpillar facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our silverfish coloring pages.

 

Silverfish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Insects

What Type of Animal were they?

Omnivores

Average Litter Size?

60 eggs on average

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

What habitat Do they Live In?

attics, basements, and damp areas with high humidity levels

Where Do They Live?

africa, asia, and eurasia

How Long Were They?

0.5-1.0 in (1.27-2.54 cm)

How Tall Were They?

Small size

Class

Insecta

Genus

Lepisma

Family

Lepismatidae

Scientific Name

Lepisma saccharina

What Do They Look Like?

Silvery gray color with six legs and two antennae

Skin Type

Chitinous exoskeleton

What Are Their Main Threats?

pest management and pest control

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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