Silverfish are primitive (i.e., older than cockroaches), wingless insects that are 1/2-inch long when fully grown. They are covered with silvery scales and are flattened and somewhat “carrot” shaped. Three long, slender “antennae-like” appendages project from the end of the abdomen giving them the name “bristle tails.” These insects are very long-lived, commonly living at least three years.
Silverfish are tropical insects that easily adapt to the structural environment. They live in warm, moist locations in structures; hide during the day; and rest in tight cracks and crevices. They roam great distances looking for food, but once a food source is located, they remain close until the supply is exhausted. They can be found throughout a structure from the basement to individual floors to attics. They readily feed on books, cloth, and sometimes dried meats or dead insects.
Adult centipedes are yellowish to dark brown, often with dark markings, and 1/8- to 6-inches long. The house centipede is grey-yellow with three stripes down the back and has very long legs banded with white. Adults of many species live a year and some as long as five to six years.
Centipedes, including the house centipede, prefer to live in moist environments. The house centipede can live indoors in damp basements, moist closets, bathrooms and outdoors under stones, decaying firewood, objects on the ground, piles of leaves, mulch, etc. Most centipedes are active at night.
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