The curse of the scaled silverfish (moth)!…

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So I think I’m learning to talk the talk, but can I walk it in so far as sustainability is concerned?

Particularly when it comes to the wellbeing of my family and my clothes?! Listed in order of importance though anyone who knows me and is reading this will know that I do have a passion for clothes and that they are my vice:).

We recently moved to a lovely cottage which we are renting while we are renovating our new home (much more on that to come at a later stage. We are currently working on the design of the renovations with our focus being on creating an outcome that will allow the house as renovated, and as lived in by us – to be as sustainable, and energy and water efficient as possible).

What has come to my attention is that this lovely cottage is also much loved by a colony (read ‘VERY large settlement’) of fish moths (otherwise known as silverfish – because of their colour and the scales on their bodies). In addition, despite rigorous (I promise) daily cleaning and vacuuming, I come across them on a daily basis! Aargh…!

Fish moths are described as “slender, wingless insects … [with] bodies covered in scales…They have three tail-like appendages at the hind end. Each appendage is almost as long as the body” (www.pestcontrol.co.za). Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silverfish for more information and a graphically horrifying picture of a specimen.

While I actively try to introduce Fynn to nature and he loves spending time outside and in the garden, I would rather he not experience nature of the fish moth variety. Given the frequency with which I’ve come across these creatures over the last couple of weeks, I can attest to three things – (i) they do make me feel slightly nauseous when I speak or think about them (particularly if I think about them possibly moving through our clothing and food cupboards, or crawling up Fynn’s legs while he’s sleeping), (ii) they are making me slightly crazy in the sense that I keep checking cupboards and food storage containers for any sign of fish moth life, and (iii) those appendages at their tail end do exist, and they are indeed that long.

My head is trying to tell me that these creatures are a wonderful example of natural capital, that life on earth is interconnected and interdependent, and that as opposed to stalking them with whatever heavy object I may have to hand; I should be studying them – their processes and ecosystems, and learning from them about nature’s genius. Also, slamming down a shoe on a fish moth does not necessarily set a good example for Fynn as to how he treats animals in the future, and trying to rid our home of these moths one-by-one is not in line with a systems approach.

So, as a starting point. What interesting facts are available on fish moths that might make me want to try and coexist with them in our home? Wikipedia (same link as above) tells me:
– that “the predecessors of silverfish are considered the earliest, most primitive insects and one of the first animals to colonise dry land.” Wow, ok – interesting;
– that fish moths can apparently live for a year or more without eating (oh good gracious!!!); and
– while they are considered household pests, due to their consumption and destruction of property and contamination of food (yes – I do know that, though thankfully have not yet witnessed any destruction or contamination in our house (yet)!), they do NOT transmit disease. Huge relief!!
– also, they do serve as food for “earwigs, house centipedes, and spiders.” Sorry guys, you’re going to have to find another insect to feed on…

Ok. So my detailed (google) research (:)) confirms my original proposition that we cannot live in harmony and these fish moths must go! In truth, this was decided as soon as I saw the first fish moth make its appearance. Over the last few weeks we have been leaving bits of cedar wood and lavender (the smell of which they apparently don’t like) in cupboards. No luck yet. They still seem to be very happy to coexist with us.

Have picked up some additional pointers on this website and going to give them a go – http://pestkill.org/insect/bugs/silverfish/. Adopting two-pronged approach (1) setting up traps as suggested in above link tonight and have called a pest control company that say they use biodegradable pesticides to ask them if they can send me more information on the product that they use – re its efficacy and safety for humans, animals (other than fish moths) and the environment. They have said that they will send this to me later on today.

Will let you know what happens!

Hope you have a great weekend and are able to sleep with both eyes closed (not watching out for a fish moth):)

A

3 thoughts on “The curse of the scaled silverfish (moth)!…

  1. After reading your silverfish posting, I started wondering whether a lesson might be taken from Hopping Green’s posting about the nesting bees (http://hoppinggreen.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/new-shed-vs-the-bees/), but then I saw the differences which might make your situation more of a challenge.

    It sounds as if the silverfish have intercalated themselves into the structure of the cottage, so getting rid of this infestation does sound like quite a chore. However, I was wondering if you might be able to entice the silverfish out of the house using a push and pull approach. You had already noted introducing cedar wood and lavender into your cupboards which the silverfish theoretically do not like and should “push” them to leave the cottage, but is the cottage well sealed and insulated so the silverfish could never get out?

    I found the following excerpt about ridding yourself of silverfish, which you may have already read at http://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/occasional-invaders/silverfish/.
    “Looking to prevent or get rid of a silverfish infestation? Consider a dehumidifier for your home, repair leaky pipes and drains and eliminate or repair any moldy or wet wood. Don’t keep old books and magazines in areas where silverfish are usually found like basements, attics and garages. It’s also important to keep food items such as flour and sugar in tight containers.”

    I wonder if you could give the silverish an egress to an environment, that is, by setting up an egress path to an inviting area of moist wood outside of your home. This may entice/pull/keep them away from the house.

    But it sounds like you would still need to find another way to rid yourself or push the current silverfish out of your house. A safer and less toxioc approach than chemicals might be using sonics. There’s a posting about how to rid yourself of silverfish but also of using uiltrasonic pest repellents at http://www.ultrasonicpestrepeller.org/how-to-get-rid-of-silverfish/. There appear to be devices which will deter these insect pests, but will not endanger household pets like dogs or cats. An example which uses a combination of ultrasonic, electromagnetic, and ionic technologies is described at https://www.pestrepellerultimate.com/a/silverfish_2.htm, but I wonder how truly effective sonic devices like this are in real world situations like yours. Well, sonics might be an additional consideration….

  2. I can completely understand your dilemma. You want to encourage Fynn to love nature but there are certain aspects that are harder to love… Coming from Australia which has a wide variety of creepy crawlies and other nasties, I’ve learned to make my peace with most of them. I’ve never been subject to colonies of silverfish but I’ve used camphor or a combination of lemon myrtle and eucalyptus to keep the odd one away. On googling the problem and coming up with a lot of the same material that you have – apparently cucumber peelings are an effective deterrent – apparently they hate the smell though I could imagine vegetable peelings would attract other insects.
    From our group assignment – ecological redundancy is a key part of a lot of ecosystems and from your research the primary role of the silverfish is to be food for earwigs and spiders then I think the insects will just need to find something else for dinner…..

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