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Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species


What do they look like?

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    7.0 to 19.0 mm
    0.28 to 0.75 in

Where do they live?

There are around 370 species from four different families in the order Thysanura. Their distribution is worldwide.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Silverfish live under bark, leaf litter, in caves and other underground dwellings, including mammal burrows. Some species are found in buildings associated with humans. Silverfish can exist under extreme environments. Some tolerate wet, cool regions, and others tolerate the low humidity and high temperatures of arid regions.

How do they grow?

Molting occurs throughout the life of the insect. It takes up to two years for a silverfish to complete its development from juvenile to adult.

How long do they live?

Silverfish can live up to four years.

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    4.0 (high) years

How do they behave?

Despite being wingless, silverfish are rapid runners.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • ants
  • termites

Do they cause problems?

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • household pest

How do they interact with us?

Silverfish that are outdoor species are useful decomposers of organic materials.

Some more information...

Collecting: Silverfish may be collected from buildings by placing strips of paper at the edge of a small jar and making a ramp to the floor. Place a bit of dried fruit, raisin, oatmeal or cracker in the jar and check it every day. If silverfish are around, you'll trap them in the jar. Place the trap in an attic, storage room, or cellar for best results. They can also be collected from leaf litter using a Berlese funnel and jar. Outdoors, Silverfish are also found under bark and stones and in fungi. A moist brush will pick them up. Preserve silverfish in 75% ethanol.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 20, 2019 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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