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Silverfish Can Damage Family Heirlooms

By Chris Williams on February 10, 2011.

Q. My daughter found some fast-moving grayish insects in a box where we had stored old family photo albums. When she opened the box, several insects came running out. These photos are irreplaceable and some photos in one album look like they’ve been chewed on. Help!

A. It sounds like you may be dealing with silverfish, and unfortunately, silverfish can do considerable damage to paper products and certain fabrics. The damage is not only from their feeding; their body scales and droppings leave yellowish stains. Silverfish have habits similar to cockroaches. They are active at night, hiding during the day in cracks and crevices. Because of their secretive habits, they often go unnoticed until the population becomes large and widespread.

Like cockroaches, silverfish feed on a wide variety of foods but they prefer starchy items and can be a serious pest of papers, especially glazed papers and onionskin. They will feed on the paste or glue in wallpaper or book bindings, on gummed labels, glue on the back of photos, etc. They often rasp away the surface glaze from papers leaving a dull finish, or they may leave irregular holes. Silverfish also feed on starched clothes, linen or rayon, dead insects, and on certain foods, especially flour, cereals, and dried meats.

silverfishSilverfish are often an indication of moisture problems, especially if you are dealing with the common silverfish. This silverfish likes high humidity and warm temperatures, and is found usually in lower levels of buildings, and in basements or crawlspaces. You can also find silverfish in garages, laundry rooms, and even attics if there is high humidity. Indoors, they can be found under sinks or near pipes. In new construction, silverfish can be found near green lumber or in damp plaster or drywall.

Cardboard boxes that are stored in garages or attics and rarely disturbed can be found to contain silverfish when the boxes are finally opened. Because you found silverfish in one box, it’s fairly likely that
silverfish are infesting other boxes or other items as well. Call Colonial. Our experts will conduct a thorough inspection to determine the extent of the problem. An extensive silverfish infestation almost always requires professional help. We can recommend control options to rid your home of silverfish and help protect your irreplaceable family heirlooms.

For more information, visit our Pest Library and look for Silverfish under Occasional Invaders.

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