The silver critters that you find in boxes are called silverfish (Figure 1). They are a primitive type of insect that lack wings and are ametabolous (meaning they do not go through metamorphosis). Silverfish prefer places that have little airflow, which is why cardboard boxes are adequate hiding places. You might also have found some silverfish individuals in your bathroom. Silverfish thrive in high humidity areas, so when you steam up the bathroom after taking a hot shower, you provide the perfect environment. Silverfish typically feed on items high in protein, sugar, or starch, such as paper with glue or clothing with starch.
Figure 1. Silverfish on a book. Photograph by Lyle Buss, University of Florida.
If you want to control the silverfish in your home, you can begin by ensuring proper ventilation occurs. Also make sure to remove cardboard boxes—instead opt for plastic storage bins—to eliminate silverfish hiding places. Insecticides can be used, but only if necessary.
To learn more about silverfish and how to manage them in the home, click here.
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This guest post co-authored by Shari Linn, a member of the UF/IFAS Gillett-Kaufman Lab.