Currently viewing the category: "Silverfish, Bristletails and Firebrats"

Hi, I currently had the most unfortunate experience of discovering a silverfish in my bathtub. It is one of two that I have seen sense I moved in in November. My apartment is old with steam heating and hardwood floors, So the option of dehumidifying is not really an option. I have spent many frantic hour on line trying to find out how to get these little darlings out of my apartment. My problem is this …I found much conflicting info on them. Such as "there is no way of truly eliminating silverfish" to "two silverfish are nothing to worry about" and "silverfish will not generally eat clothing" to "you should perchance silverfish traps to put in your drawers" So what’s the deal? Any info you could give would help. I’m at a point of hysteria (have you seen a yuckier looking bug) and very worried about my clothing collection. Thank you very much and also if moving away and starting over is my only option at this point I’m okay with that…..:)


Dear Steph,
Silverfish, which belong to the order Zygentoma, are also sometimes known as firebrats because of their love of warmth. According to expert F. Lutz, "If such a creature is eating your wallpaper, starched clothes, photographs or other belongings, your sorrow may be mitigated by your interest in seeing the most primitive insect you are likely to observe without special effort. Further damage may be prevented by fumigating or by liberal use of fresh Pyrethrum powder". If you move, be sure to not take along any hitch-hikers. We once had a lengthy correspondance with Miss Swanlund who was worried that her lovely Hollywood starlet apartment was infested. She eventually moved, leaving the vermin behind.

Dear What’s that Bug,
Last night in yoga class, while doing a spinal twist, I spotted a silverfish darting across the floorboards very near my mat. I broke my pose, grabbed a purple foam block, and squished the silverfish, leaving its mutilated body on the gleaming hardwood floors. I have two questions. First of all, is it bad karma to kill a bug in yoga class? Also, is there any way that I might bring an infestation back to my home?
Thank you,
Lethal Lotus

Dear Lethal Lotus,
Though we here at What’s That Bug? are not practicing Buddhists, we are aware that it is a Zen canon to think of ourselves as one with the universe, and that includes silverfish. Can’t we all just get along? Was the silverfish harming you in any way? I would strongly suggest that you do some karmic retribution.
Regarding your second question, to which former HomeBody of the Month Miss Swanlund will strongly attest, once silverfish become naturalized, they are nearly impossible for even the cleanest homemaker to eradicate. The silverfish themselves do not ascribe to the Zen way of life, hence they are interested in overrunning homes and eating books with little thought of how this might affect the human tenants. War is war. Silverfish are notorious for seeking out cramped quarters and crevices, especially those of the dark moist variety. It is entirely possible to transport one of the wily critters on your person, especially if it should somehow find itself in an environment not conducive to its needs, like a brightly lit room full of contorted bodies where the odds of getting squished are high. It is also possible that one of your fellow yoga enthusiasts transported the victim of your brutal attack, and its siblings, to the site of your encounter.

I was restiching a pair of pants yesterday when out crawled a strange looking bug. It startled me and frightened me because I hadn’t ever seen anything like it before. It was no longer than say 4-6 mm. It was basically yellow, but with other colors on it. It had 2 "thingies" trailing behind it. It was rather flat and narrow and moved fairly fast considering it’s size. I killed it so I’m going by a 5-10 second memory recall. The pants are made of 100% polyester, from Guatemala. I realize that I haven’t given you much to work with , but if you can identify it I’d be appreciative.
Thanks for your time,
Mrs. Irish

It sounds like the dreaded silverfish, a household pest which will devour any and everything in the house. Sadly, and much to our embarassment here at What’s That Bug?, the silverfish is our one big failure story. As much as we tried, it seems we could never figure out a way for Miss Swanlund, former Homebody of the Month, to eradicate the pestilence from her tiny and cozy Hollywood starlet apartment, forcing her to buy a home and leave many of her prized books and possessions behind.

These little things are ratherr shiny, jump great lengths compared to their size. The one in the picture is about 1/4 inch long – I’ve seen them up to about 1/2 inch. We had the house fumigated for termites 8 weeks ago; these were among the earliest re-entrant critters. Can you identify this thing?
Thanks, … Al

Dear Al,
You have a Jumping Bristletail, Family Meinertellidae. They are related to silverfish and are found in leaf litter and in old stone walls. Some species invade houses. Most species are nocturnal, abhor light and are secretive in their habits.