TX Organic Research Center




Common Names: Firebrat, Silverfish

Scientific Name: Order Thysanura, family Lepismatidae. Silverfish--Lepisma saccharina, Firebrat--Thermobia domestica

Size: Adult--1/4" to 3/4"

Identification: Slender, flattened, wingless, segmented, silver-gray and black, covered with scales. End of abdomen has three tail-like filaments. Firebrats are very similar but much darker.

Biology and Life Cycle: Very primitive insects that are nocturnal and fast-moving. Can go long periods of time without food. Incomplete metamorphosis. Immature stages are similar to the adults. A segment is added with each molt. Nymphs take up to two years to reach maturity.

Habitat: Silverfish like cool places or warm, damp ones. Firebrats like warm, humid places. Both live indoors and outdoors under stones, in caves, in debris, and in ant nests.

Feeding Habits: Feed on starchy materials like glue, flour, damp textiles, book bindings, and wallpaper paste. Also dry meat, oats, paper products, waste materials, and decaying plant and animal matter.

Economic Importance: Common pest in homes and libraries that causes book and document damage. They are beneficial in the wild.

Natural Control: Spiders.

Organic Control: Indoor control is all that is ever needed. Natural diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and plant oil products.

Insight: Considered living fossils, silverfish are older than dinosaurs--at least, that's what we read.

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