Grey Silverfish discovered in UK

‘Grey Silverfish discovered in UK’.

Background: Discovery of the Grey Silverfish in the UK

The Grey Silverfish (Ctenolepisma longicaudata) was reported found in a domestic property in Whitley Wood, Reading, Berkshire. Previously, there were only two silverfish species in the UK; the Common Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) and the Firebrat (Thermobia domestica).
A large silverfish was found in the kitchen of the Berkshire house. It soon became apparent that this was not the common silverfish (Lepisma saccharina). Specifically, the new intruder quite hairy, with a longer body length [11mm] and long antennae and bristles at the rear.

So, the specimen was just under 40mm in length from the tip of the antennae all the way to the tip of the central ‘hair’ projecting from the end of the abdomen. This is much longer than the common silverfish and its grey appearance also ruled out the firebrat. Furthermore, behavioural studies of the invertebrate backed up the identification. C. longicaudata likes to feed on starchy materials e.g. breakfast cereals.

Grey Silverfish discovered in UK museum

In 2016, the Museum of London was infested by grey silverfish. Initially, the grey silver fish grazed on packing materials in the costume store. Fortunately, precious collection items were not damaged.

Crucially, C. longicaudata appears to survive and cause damage at lower humidities than L. saccharina and so the potential threat should be considered serious. Importantly, management of environmental and storage conditions by reducing humidity, which is the typical way of silverfish control, may not provide the same results when dealing with the grey silverfish. museum.

A London Art Gallery in suffered an infestation in 2016. It is likely that grey silverfish activity in museums and similar environments is under reported throughout UK and Europe, due to its similar appearance to the common silverfish. Perhaps unfamiliarity with grey silverfish has a part to play, when those involved in Integrated Pest Management undertake initial identifications.

In contrast to normal silverfish control practice, a small reduction in humidity will not prevent infestation. However, they can apply their skills in controlling silverfish to the new infestations of grey silverfish.

The Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) is a nocturnal invertebrate who enjoys foraging in kitchens and bathrooms. During the day, silverfish hide behind bath panels, skirting boards and wall paper. Indeed, any small crevice provides a secure hidey-hole for this little creature. So, in order to learn how to control a silverfish infestation, we need to gain an understanding their behaviour and movements.

Silverfish: Distribution and habitat

Silverfish are found throughout the world. Indeed, they are closely linked with human activity. They favour the following parts of your home:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Pantries 

Therefore, these are the areas where you should focus when you are trying to control a silverfish infestation. Yet, ironically, silverfish cannot escape from areas with polished or shiny surfaces. So, you will often find the little creatures trapped in sinks, baths and china. 

The impact of a silverfish infestation

Silverfish, on the whole, are a harmless home invader. So, why should you control a silverfish infestation when they do not spread disease or infection. Unfortunately, however, they do damage manuscripts, papers, textiles and dried food packaging. Moreover, they enjoy feeding on the protein filled gums and binding pastes found in fine textile and leather products. In addition, this insect will invade packets of dried food that have been stored in damp pantries.

How to control a silverfish infestation

Silverfish in small numbers do not pose a significant problem. However, trying to control a larger silverfish infestation is difficult. Books, papers and manuscripts can be stored in a dry environment. However, it is difficult to reduce humidity levels in kitchens and bathrooms. The installation of an effective dehumidification system is the only option. However, Grey Silverfish are more at home in lower levels of humidity, so installing an efficient dehumidification system is paramount.

Grey Silverfish discovered in UK: The DIY approach to silverfish control

When it comes to controlling a silverfish infestation, there are a number of organic pest control options:

  1. Cedar. Silverfish are repelled by the smell of cedar oil and cedar wood shavings.
  2. Cinnamon. Place ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks or cinnamon oil in infected areas.
  3. Citrus fruit. Silverfish are repelled by the scents of orange or lemon peel. In addition, a spray of lemon juice and water can be used on the infected area.
  4. Cucumber. Silverfish do not like the smell of fresh cucumber peel shavings.
  5. Cloves. The clove contains eugenol which is a natural insect deterrent.
  6. Salt. Silverfish are attracted to, and enjoy eating, salt. Unfortunately, for the silverfish, eating salt will cause them to dehydrate and die.

There are harsher silverfish infestation pest control treatments that are available over the counter.  Indeed, there are a variety of liquid spray formulations available that will eliminate silverfish. However, proceed with caution because these formulations are poisonous and toxic. The ingredients may be harmful to children, pets and adult lungs if inhaled.

Moreover, there is a good chance that the infestation will not be eradicated. Indeed, the homeowner will probably not have the necessary equipment or expertise to achieve a blanket coverage of the infected area.  In addition, personal protection during silverfish pest control is of paramount importance.  

Grey Silverfish found in UK: The importance of PPE

In order to control a silverfish infestation, Personal Protection Equipment should include:

  • Protective clothing. All in one pest control suits are freely available online. Usually, these suits are disposable and they can only be used for one pest control application. However, if the pest controller requires more comfort and repeated use, a double thickness, breathable suit would be the best option.
  • Eye protection. Pesticides may get into the eyes in any situation where spraying or fogging is involved.
  • Masks/respirators. In order to limit the absorption of pesticide vapours, fumes and other unwanted particles a respiratory mask should be worn.
  • Gloves. Gloves will protect the hands from pesticide contact and injuries during spraying. Furthermore, there should be no gaps between the gloves and the protective clothing.
  • Shoe protection and safety boots. Foot protection is important during spraying and to prevent insecticide spills damaging your feet.
  • Helmets. A safety helmet is mandatory in any environment where chemicals are being used and there is the possibility of falling objects.
  • Ear protection. Ear muffs not only protect the ears from excessive noise but they prevent unwanted particles from entering your ears. 

Specifically, vital human organs are at risk of damage if the correct Personal Protection Equipment is not used. 

The professional approach to silverfish control

In conclusion, a large silverfish infestation will require a local professional pest control company. Initially, the experts will use a crawling insect insecticide aerosol based on residual synthetic pyrethroids, organophosphorus or carbarmates.

Moreover, our technicians will focus on cracks and crevices that are the daytime refuges of these creatures. The experts have the experience to locate and control a silverfish infestation. In addition, we will seal the harbourages after the treatment has been completed. 

‘Grey Siverfish discovered in UK’. Now it’s time to call the professionals at for an efficient, cost effective and discreet local pest control service.

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