Wingless and slender, these silvery insects have long, threadlike antennae and three “tails.” They like cool, damp environments. Their close relatives, the gray-and-brown mottled firebrats, prefer heat; they live around furnaces and hot-water pipes.
Both feed on substances high in starch and sugar, including flour, cereals, food scraps, glue, wallpaper, paste, book-bindings, and some fabrics.
These insects do not thrive if they are frequently disturbed. Prevent infestation by vacuuming often. Air stored clothing; clean bookshelves and basement and storage areas.
To rid a home of an infestation of silverfish, apply a 2 percent diazinon dust to infested areas that are out of reach of children and pets. Put the dust behind books and into cracks in the walls and flooring.
Use an insecticide spray-2 percent malathion (premium grade), 1 to 1.5 percent Ronnel, or .05 to 1 percent methoxychlor to spray around baseboards, doors, windows, closets, and boxes.