Lepisma saccharina, (common silverfish) Thermobia domestica, (common firebrat)
Silverfish, Lepisma saccharina , and firebrats, Thermobia domestica , are insect species that belong to the order Thysanura and are usually found in homes. They are mostly a nuisance pest, but they can destroy cereals, books, papers, wallpaper, and other starchy items with their excrement. During severe infestations, these starchy targets may develop irregular-shaped holes from the insects’ feeding. Silverfish and firebrats do not feed on wool or other animal products.

Development and Behavior

Silverfish can live for two to three years, or more, and produce more than 50 offspring. Eggs, deposited one to three at a time, take from 19 to 43 days to hatch (temperature dependent); these offspring can reach sexual maturity in a few months or up to 3 years. This variability is due to environmental conditions and quality of food sources. Firebrat have similar lives, but they can produce more than 100 offspring, and eggs are deposited in batches of about 50.

Little is known about bristletail behavior. Most behavioral studies examined food preference or food suitability. Although most people think that bristletails feed on book bindings and carbohydrates, they actually prefer dried beef, beef extract, dead insects, and other items high in protein.Silverfish cannibalize dead and injured insects. They can survive for weeks without food and water, and more than 300 days if water is available. Both firebrats and silverfish prefer high humidity, although firebrats are more resistant to dryer environments. Silverfish desire cooler temperatures and are usually found in basements. Firebrats prefer warmer temperatures (over 90°F) and areoften near furnaces, hot water pipes, attics, and roofing shingles.

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