Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tender wonder, the Silverfish!

In 1960s, I observed some creatures creeping  on the wall of our house. When I tried to catch them, they ran and escaped behind wall-hanging calendars. Even if I caught one of them gently, it slipped away to safety leaving behind a silvery white powder on my fingers - just like a moth leaves its scales! It is the Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina, Fishmoth, 'Velli poochi' in Tamil).
It is a wingless insect. Even today when I lift up the calendar, I see these insects scatter away; more than that, I also find the calendar's surface contacting the wall eaten up by them.

Silverfish chews every matter that has starch in it like glue, paper (glued), and so on. It is active at night. This small insect has long antennae and three long tail projections. It is found everywhere in this world (Firebrats are similar insects; but they are brownish and found often near boilers and in bakeries. Here, in India, they are seen living along with silverfish).


While on reproduction, the female silverfish receives male's spermatophore and begins to lay eggs at once. Eggs hatch in two weeks into nymphs. The white nymphs turn grey as they moult and mature into adults in three months. Even after growing into adults they continue to moult throughout their lifetime! The lifetime of a silverfish is two to eight years! It is said it can survive even up to one year without eating any food at all!
This wonder insect that is smooth and soft, though damages articles, is a harmless one - as it does not transmit any disease to humans!

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