Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) are small, wingless insects of the Thysanura order that get their name from their silvery-blue appearance and fishlike movements. They are also known as paramites, carpet sharks or fishmoths; sometimes they are confused with firebrats, another very similar insect of the Thysanusa order.
Silverfish are approximately one half inch to an inch in length. Their bodies are elongated and flattened with a tapered abdomen at the end, giving the appearance of a fish tail. Adult silverfish have a grayish hue and metallic shine (young are more whitish and lack the distinctive metallic shine). They can also be identified by the three sets of appendages (called cerci) on the sides of their body. The silverfish has two large antennae but lacks wings.
In nature, silverfish live in damp, warm places. They are frequently found in homes where there is warmth and humidity, especially laundry rooms, areas around ovens, heating units, fireplaces, hot water pipes, attics during the summer, and the furnace during winter.They are especially attracted to new constructions, where fresh lumber increases humidity and there is an abundance of freshly applied adhesive (caulk, wood glue, wallpaper, etc).
Silverfish are not dangerous to humans, but they can do a lot of damage to property due to their feeding habits. Silverfish feed on matter containing polysaccharides, especially starches and dexterin. These are especially prevalent in adhesives, such as glue and paste. Besides glue, these polysaccharides are commonly found in book bindings, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing and even human dandruff. They will also feed on tapestries, silk, linen, cotton, household dust and synthetic fibers. They have been known to consume dead insects and leather when other foods are scarce. They can be destructive if they get into areas with a lot of books or other items they commonly feed on.