Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) is a small insect that lives in apartments or houses. Many people do not notice it until the number of insects reaches 100-150 individuals. This is justified by the fact that this pest is invisible, in addition, the damage from it is quite insignificant.
Silverfish (sugar silverfish)
To notice such a small and inconspicuous insect, you should familiarize yourself with its external characteristics. Adults reach a body length of up to 1.9 cm (without antennae). Since they grow throughout life, most silverfish range in size from 0.8 to 1.2 cm.
The body of the pest is quite flat, the head stands out poorly against the background of the rest of the body. The chest is wide. The body tapers smoothly towards the tail, and also has a subtle division into segments. It is covered with scales that change color during molting.
The most common type of silverfish is the common silverfish or sugar silverfish (photo on the left).
Among the shades are:
- dark brown (up to almost black),
- pale brown or off-yellow (more common in young insects)
- light yellow or white (relatively rare color),
- silver (the body of such a representative is distinguished by a bright cold tint).
Silverfish has long, thick antennae that are directed forward and slightly diverge to the sides. In addition, the distinctive feature of this insect is the three filaments at the end of the tail. These filaments are extremely similar to antennae. The silverfish has three pairs of short but thick legs. The pest's eyes are complex, faceted.
Why is silverfish dangerous? What harm does it do?
With a small number of individuals, the silverfish practically does not spoil things, that is, it does not interfere with the owner of the house in any way.
But still, this insect is considered to be a pest. This is justified by the following facts:
- The silverfish population is growing rapidly, so the damage becomes more noticeable. These insects gnaw through packages, spoil books, linen and curtains. They can also further worsen the condition of old wallpaper or rotten wood.
- Laying of eggs and stay of adults in human food. Although silverfish is not a disease vector, it can reduce the quality of foods to the point that they are completely inedible. In addition, the pest, constantly moving around, collects dirt and dangerous microorganisms on its own body. It can be dangerous if spilled into human food.
- The appearance, number and rapid movement of silverfish annoy people. The insect sometimes crawls into bed, inside the refrigerator, sugar bowl, or other places. This is very unnerving, disgusting in people, spoils sleep and reduces performance.
This pest, despite being fastidious about living conditions, is highly survivable. It is quite problematic to destroy a population that has settled somewhere. This is another reason why the insect is classified as a pest. This survival rate of silverfish is justified by the fact that it is most likely the ancestor of modern insects. Judging by the found remains, the pest has existed for about 400 million years. This fact is the main indicator of the vitality of this insect.
Life cycle and lifestyle of silverfish
Silverfish is nocturnal. In the daytime, adults hide or look for a place for laying. At the moment, insects live mainly in human dwellings, but there are also wild representatives. The latter feed on algae, mushrooms, fallen leaves or lichen, hiding inside the bark or under the forest floor.
It should be noted that the most common species is the common silverfish, which is also called "sugar". She got this name because of the insect's craving for sweets. This is due to the fact that silverfish needs glucose. Starch is also very important for her.
Despite the fact that the pest is omnivorous, it has some taste preferences:
- Human food. Often it is sugar, flour (both potato and wheat) or vegetables. The insect can lay eggs in cereals, since this place seems to him safe enough.
- Various things and objects. Silverfish can eat clothes or books, or rather fabrics, leather, and wool. The pest is especially fond of starched laundry.
- Room decoration. Starting from old wood, ending with glue. Most often, wallpaper and upholstery are included in the diet.
This animal stands out for its gluttony. Moreover, it is able to live without food for up to 10 months. The main condition for insect survival is moisture. For this reason, silverfish often live in the bathroom or toilet.
Any crack can become a refuge for a pest. Silverfish also settle under scraps of wallpaper, garbage or directly in food (refers primarily to flour). You can often see it under the sink or bathroom, where it is dark, warm and humid enough. Since the insect hates light, it is almost impossible to meet it in the daytime: the silverfish, even if it is busy with reproduction, moves exclusively in darkened areas.
Although the pest is extremely picky about moisture, it does not need water. Moreover, it is dangerous for this insect. Silverfish cannot swim and drowns in a drop of water. This is justified by the structure of her legs: they are too short for the animal to get out of the liquid.
In nature, silverfish travels long distances. She develops high speed, but gets tired quickly. Because of this, the insect moves quickly, taking short breaks. The pest takes a lot of time to reproduce, so the speed of movement is extremely important for him. The reason for this is the fact that direct mating between opposite-sex individuals does not occur. The female looks for spermatophores left by the males in a random place.
Silverfish is considered an insect prone to rapid and efficient reproduction. The female lays about 70 eggs at a time. The percentage of surviving larvae is large enough, they grow quickly.
The molting process is important for silverfish. In larvae, the change of scales occurs more frequently. In addition, the number of molts in this insect is unlimited. The color change can be quite radical, and also does not always depend on the age of the individual.
How to get rid of silverfish?
If a whole population is already present in the house, chemicals are used. In addition, people set up homemade traps. The insect can also be scared away by strong odors.
To scare away silverfish, you can use peel shavings, various strong-smelling spices: cinnamon, bay leaf, sage, etc. They need to be laid out in cabinets. Essential oils will also help in the fight against insects. To do this, you need to take a spray bottle with water, add a few drops of lavender or citrus essential oil to it and spray the places where insects have met.
But such methods are ineffective, since they only scare away insects, but do not kill.
It is easy to make a trap against silverfish: you need to take a glass jar, wrap it on the outside with electrical tape, and put a bait inside, for example, a piece of bread. Insects will try to get to the bait, get into the jar, but they won't be able to get out. Remember to clean the trap periodically and add new bait.
Another option is a newspaper trap. To make it, you need to wind the newspaper into a roll, pull off its edges with an elastic band. Next, you need to wet the newspaper and leave overnight. At night, the silverfish will surely crawl into the newspaper, in the morning you will need to throw it away.
If you do not want to make a trap yourself, then you can always purchase one in the store.
Diatomite is one of the most common methods in the fight against silverfish. It needs to be scattered overnight in places where the pest has been encountered, and vacuum cleaned in the morning.
Boric acid will help get rid of silverfish in an apartment or a private house. It also needs to be scattered in places where insects accumulate.
Insecticidal aerosols based on pyrethrin are effective against various insects, including silverfish. But keep in mind that chemicals are dangerous not only for insects, but also for people and pets. They should be used strictly according to the instructions.
To destroy silverfish in the house, it is recommended to carry out the following cleaning:
- Take out all debris and unnecessary items to gain access to all hard-to-reach places in the room.
- Perform a general cleaning, treat all objects with a chlorine-containing cleaning agent. Wait until they dry.
- Apply a solution of copper sulfate, dry everything well. To avoid moisture in corners and hard-to-reach places, you can use a fan.
- Treat the room with aerosol preparations. Close it for an hour.
- Ventilate the room well.
For greater effect, it is recommended to repeat this cleaning and treatment after a few days.
It is much easier to prevent the appearance of silverfish in an apartment or house than to deal with it. Therefore, it is recommended to take preventive measures.
How to prevent silverfish from appearing in the house?
Silverfish in the kitchen
If you create conditions unsuitable for the silverfish, then she will not settle in the house. Of course, it is impossible to create a completely uncomfortable environment, but the exclusion of one item will suffice. The main parameter by which the silverfish is looking for a place to live is humidity. The ideal value for the pest is 70-80%. Indoor humidity should be limited to 50%. You should also replace old wallpaper and wood, get rid of cracks and cracks. All rooms should be adequately lit, including the cooking area, as very often the silverfish gets started in the kitchen.
It is necessary to regularly carry out general cleaning in the bathroom, to ensure good ventilation in the room, because otherwise not only silverfish can settle here, but also wood lice, centipedes and other pests.
If there are gaps in the walls, they must be repaired, since they can be used by silverfish for laying eggs.
All products are recommended to be stored in sealed jars and bags. Old clothes should be put in plastic bags. All papers, cardboard boxes should be stored in dry places.
Please note that silverfish enter the house either through ventilation or using objects. If signs of silverfish stay are noticed, you should check the state of ventilation: sometimes the pest settles right there. If we talk about objects in the house, then most often the eggs or the insects themselves can be seen in toilet paper, cardboard boxes or books.
The Venus flytrap grows to about 15 cm wide. The leaves are arranged in a rosette shape around the underground stem. The plant has four to seven leaves, each of which is a trap. The trap consists of two opposite petals with spines along the outer edges. The flycatcher grows, low to the ground, which allows insects to easily crawl into the trap. The flowers are small, star-shaped and located at the ends of the stems. The plant blooms in May - June and then produces small, black seeds. Life expectancy is up to seven years.
Venus flytrap flower
Inside each trap, there are small hairs that act as sensors. Touching the tendril once will have no effect. But as soon as the insect makes two consecutive touches to two different hairs, the trap will close in the blink of an eye, in 0.1 seconds. This sophisticated mechanism is necessary in order to avoid idle slamming when rain drops or other objects enter. The exact principle of the trap is still not fully understood, but scientists believe it is associated with the rapid transfer of water between plant cells.
After the insect is trapped, the Venus flytrap secretes digestive enzymes and dissolves its prey within 2 weeks. She then opens up again, waiting for the next victim. Each trap in its life is capable of catching up to seven food objects.
In nature, the Venus flytrap grows in the pine savannas and wetlands of the states of North and South Carolina, USA. It thrives in swampy, nitrogen-deficient and acidic soils. The Venus flytrap prefers an open, sunny area with moist soil.
Preservation and distribution
The Venus flycatcher mainly grows in a small area less than 100 miles in radius around the city of Wilmington in the US state of North Carolina. The greatest threat to the conservation of the species is posed by the illegal collection of wild plants for trade. The Venus flycatcher is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and is also listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Growing at home
Venus Flycatcher can grow at home. Given its reputation as a finicky plant, it just needs to create conditions close to its natural habitat. Place it in a bright place, but not in direct sunlight. It is better to take rainwater or distilled water, but in no case tap water. It also needs acidic soils and peat compost mixed with coarse sand or perlite for better drainage.
The flycatcher is not a tropical plant and grows best in temperatures between 20 and 27 degrees Celsius. Remove dead or dying leaves to prevent rotting and spreading to healthy ones. Do not feed anything other than live insects to the flycatcher. Do not overfeed her, one feeding a week is enough. Make sure the trap is three times larger than the insect you feed it. Eating too large can damage her or even kill her.
Venus Flycatcher is grown mainly as an ornamental plant, but it can also be used for medicinal purposes. Proponents of this method claim that the plant contains chemicals that have anti-tumor and anti-aging effects. The American Cancer Society notes that there is no authoritative scientific evidence to support these properties.
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Valasyanitsa Sheraya (Ranei - Mukhaloka Sheraya)
Gurkov2N. Vitebsk district
The whole territory of Belarus
Flycatcher family - Muscicapidae.
In Belarus - M. s. striata.
Common breeding migrant and transit migratory bird. Distributed throughout the territory of the republic.Joseph Kremis. Postavy district (Vitebsk region)
The size of a sparrow, with a relatively short and thin beak. From a distance, the bird seems monotonously gray. However, the upper part of its body is brownish-gray, the lower part is light with a faintly visible brownish bloom on the sides. The throat and undertail are even lighter. Dark longitudinal streaks are poorly visible on the chest, gradually decreasing on the abdomen. The feathers on the wings are dark gray with light edges. Bristle-like feathers are well developed at the base of the beak. The bill and legs are dark gray. Females and males are colored the same. Young birds are distinguished by the presence of ocher-white streaks on the upper side of the body. Male weight 12-20.5 g, female 10-17.5 g. Body length (both sexes) 13.5-15 cm, wingspan 23-25 cm. Male wing length 8.5-9 cm, tail 6- 6.5 cm, tarsus 1.5-2 cm, beak 1-1.3 cm. Wing length of females 8-9 cm, tail 5.5-7 cm, tarsus 1.5 cm, beak 0.9-1, 2 cm.
An inconspicuous bird, its characteristic feature is that, sitting on a branch, it holds its body almost vertically, in a "column", twitching its wings from time to time. The song is a low, quiet chirping with higher pitches. The voice is not sound - "tsit-tsit-tsit".
Arrives in late April or early May in spring. Birds are flying from the west. The timing of flycatcher migrations in spring shifts by 3-4 days as it moves by 1 ° latitude from southwest to northeast of Belarus, in autumn, on the contrary, migration occurs earlier by about the same number of days. At nesting sites, they appear imperceptibly, more often in pairs, probably formed during migration.
Gurkov2N. Vitebsk district
It is a typical inhabitant of light tall pine forests. Also inhabits sparse forests of various types: oak forests, spruce and pine-oak, spruce-deciduous forests, alder and birch forests. Sometimes it settles among a dense forest, but always near forest edges, glades and glades. Selects areas with dead trees, often burning. It is often found in the neighborhood of a person: in villages, townships, cities, where it nests in parks, gardens, in yards with old trees, on alleys of quiet streets, occasionally - on utility yards, small construction sites.Joseph Kremis, Postavy (Vitebsk region)
Soon after arrival, flycatchers occupy nesting areas and start building the nest. Breeds in single pairs. Sometimes 2-3 pairs nest at a distance of 1 m from each other. The nest is always located on a horizontal support near some vertical wall that protects it from one side: in half-collapsed woodpecker hollows, in shallow decayed cavities and flaws in tree trunks and stumps, in outgrowths of trunks, depressions in the place of a broken knot, forks between trunks, in whorls of thick branches, on a break in a windbreak tree, on inverted roots, less often behind peeling bark, in heaps of brushwood. There are nests in old buildings of other birds: blackbirds, finches, barn swallows (in settlements), sometimes on cups for collecting resin, occasionally in the plexus and whorls of thin branches of young trees, or even on the ground. In human habitation, the bird builds a nest under the eaves of houses, behind window frames, on ledges of beams, in niches of walls, less often in woodpiles of firewood and even in metal crosses and wreaths in cemeteries.Joseph Kremis, Postavy (Vitebsk region)
The nest is located quite openly, at a height of 0.5-8 m (usually 1.5-3 m). Often it is irregular in shape (the tray is shifted to the edge) and is a small, shallow, bowl-shaped, loose structure. The building material is dry blades of grass, thin twigs, bast fibers, moss stalks, roots, less often lichens, plant fluff, pine needles. The tray is lightly lined with thin blades of grass, hair, occasionally with feathers, dry leaves. In settlements, cotton wool, threads, pieces of string, paper, and rags are used to build a nest. The height of the nest is 3.5-5 cm, the diameter is 7.5-9.5 cm: the depth of the tray is 3-6.5 cm, the diameter is 4.5-6.5 cm. The construction of the nest takes 9-10 days. Both birds build the nest.
Nikolay Agapitov, Vitebsk
A full clutch consists of 4-5 eggs, sometimes 6, occasionally 3. The shell is slightly shiny, light, greenish-gray (almost olive) or pinkish-sandy in color, densely covered with often blurry rusty-brown and rusty-brown surface spots. Deep spotting of gray-violet and gray. Egg weight 2 g, length 17-20 mm, diameter 13-15 mm.
Most of the fresh clutches appear in the nests in the first ten days of June, but the first clutches are noted already (especially in the south) in the second half of May. One brood per year. Although Fedyushin and Dolbik (1967) previously indicated that some pairs have 2 broods per year, but only in Polesie. Both birds incubate alternately for 12-14 days. Chicks fly out of the nest at the age of 12-13 days.
Nikolay Agapitov, Vitebsk
The greatest number of parents arriving with food to the nests occurs in the morning (6–9 h), then the intensity of feeding decreases (10–11 h) and increases again (12–14 h). The next two peaks of feeding activity of flycatchers occur at 17–18 and 19–20 hours. The frequency of the parents bringing food to the nest with a large number of chicks or older is slightly higher than to the one where there are fewer or younger chicks. With prolonged drizzling rains, adult birds do not stop foraging, but usually end up hunting for it an hour earlier, and in the morning they start an hour later. In parallel with feeding the chicks, the parents also clean the nest from fecal capsules. For every 7 feed deliveries, there is an average of one capsule delivery. This also applies to other species. The highest feeding intensity is at 8–12 days of life.
Vladimir Bondar. Mogilev district
Before the chicks leave (on day 13), the amount of food brought to them is sharply reduced, the parents, as it were, stimulate the chicks to leave the nest. The cages are supplemented by adult birds for several days.
The prolongation of the breeding period is explained by the non-simultaneous entry of birds into the breeding season, the death of the first clutches, after which the flycatchers begin to re-clutch. Nests with clutches and chicks are ravaged by: jay, hooded crow, great and green woodpeckers, domestic cats. It is possible that some females have two clutches per season, but there are no data on two breeding cycles of the gray flycatcher in the south of Belarus.
Gurkov2N. Vitebsk district
It feeds primarily on insects, which it lurks, sitting on a branch, and catches on the fly. Rarely pecks up small insects and spiders directly from tree branches or on the ground. Thus, in all aspects of its lifestyle, including nesting and feeding, the gray flycatcher is closely related to the crowns of trees. It is extremely rare to see this bird on the ground. Birds hunt in the upper tiers of the forest, on sunlit edges and glades, in human settlements, where they prey mainly flying insects. The hunt for food begins in the early morning and ends in the evening.
Gurkov2N. Vitebsk district
In the second half of summer, gray flycatchers are even less noticeable, they give a voice extremely rarely.
Autumn migration occurs gradually in August, the last individuals disappear by mid-September. In the south of Belarus, some individuals are found until the end of September - early October.
The number of the gray flycatcher in Belarus is stable and is estimated at 0.7-
The maximum age recorded in Europe is 11 years.Joseph Kremis. Postavy district (Vitebsk region) Vladimir Bondar, Bykhov district (Mogilev region)
Vladimir Bondar. Mogilev district
1. Grichik V. V., Burko L. D. "Animal world of Belarus. Vertebrates: study guide" Minsk, 2013. -399 p.
2. Nikiforov M. Ye., Yaminsky B. V., Shklyarov L. P. "Birds of Belarus: Directory-identifier of nests and eggs" Minsk, 1989. -479p.
3. Fedyushin A. V., Dolbik M. S. "Birds of Belarus". Minsk, 1967.-521s.
4. Fransson, T., Jansson, L., Kolehmainen, T., Kroon, C. & Wenninger, T. (2017) EURING list of longevity records for European birds.
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