Silverfish Characteristics Silverfish range from about one-third to three-quarters of an inch long, and taper toward the rear. They can be most easily identified by their long, flat bodies and the thin antennae protruding from the head. Silverfish are related to another common household pest known as the firebrat. Although they have similar eating habits, firebrats live in humid areas above 90 F, such as furnace rooms, steam tunnels, and the insulation around heating pipes. They are generally a little shorter than silverfish, and are distinguishable by their grayish color and the spots on their scales. When inside the home, silverfish will feed on just about anything. Diet staples include paper, glue, flour, breakfast cereal, starch, cotton, linen, silk and sugar. They may consume dried meats or leathers, and even the dead bodies of other insects. Though they eat voraciously and indiscriminately, they can survive for an entire year without food. Nocturnal by nature, silverfish hide during the day. They move quickly, and will find new hiding places if their old ones are disturbed. Throughout their lifetimes, female silverfish can lay more than 100 eggs, which are laid two or three at a time and hatch in about three to six weeks. Firebrat infestations can be more common, as the females lay up to 50 eggs at a time over a period of two weeks. The silverfish's lifespan is from two to eight years, but their populations don't build up quickly, so a large-scale infestation usually means that silverfish have inhabited a residence for several years. Non-chemical Silverfish Control There are a few options to effectively treat a silverfish infestation in the home. First, sticky traps can help determine the scope of the problem by identifying exactly where silverfish colonies are concentrated, based on which areas with traps have the most captured insects. If very few silverfish are trapped, ongoing use of sticky traps should eventually eliminate the problem. If a large number of silverfish are present on sticky traps, there are a few non-chemical elimination methods to try. Since silverfish tend to congregate in damp areas, homeowners should repair moisture leaks and faulty plumbing and use a dehumidifier to dry the air. Cracks and crevices in the walls should be sealed to prevent silverfish from gathering inside. Silverfish in the bathroom can be deterred with the use of ventilation fans. Lighting dark areas of the home also can cause silverfish to flee. If the silverfish problem has originated in the roof or attic, the roof should be well ventilated to avoid accumulation of excess moisture. Sanitation alone will not reduce a silverfish infestation, but it can be a good preventive measure once the population has been reduced or eliminated. Insecticide-based Silverfish Control Chemical options to control silverfish include boric acid and silicon dioxide, both of which can be found in most hardware stores. However, many experts recommend the use of aerosol insecticides. They should be applied to all potential hiding places in the infested areas, including in crevices, behind pipes and furniture and in closets and attics. If silverfish mostly are collected in wall voids, holes may need to be drilled in the wall to distribute the chemicals. Insecticides rarely have a visible effect in the first few days, as the silverfish must emerge from their hiding places to be exposed to the chemicals. Results usually start to show after 10 days to two weeks. No matter what types of chemicals are used, homeowners should take care to avoid applying them where children or pets could be exposed. It's also important to follow the directions on chemical insecticides. In extreme cases, a qualified pest control agency should be able to take care of a silverfish infestation.