Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Zygentoma (Silverfish)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
the former Ctenolepisma quadriseriata was synonymized with C. lineata (the Four-lined Silverfish), and the former Ctenolepisma urbana was synomymized with C. longicaudata (the Gray [or Giant] Silverfish)
the former Thermobia campbelli, cincta, and longimana were synonymized with T. aegyptiaca in a 1998 revision of the genus by J. Irish
Explanation of Names
the genus Lepisma and all other genera ending in
-lepisma (such as Ctenolepisma) are now to be treated as neuter in gender.
14 species in 9 genera in North America listed at nearctica.com
length to 19 mm; common species usually 8-12 mm
Distinguished from all other North American silverfish by the presence of compound eyes.
often found indoors in warm, damp environments; the Common Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) is frequently seen in bathrooms and kitchens, whereas the Firebrat (Thermobia domestica) is usually found in basements around furnaces and in insulation around hot water and heating pipes; these and other species also occur outdoors under bark, in leaf litter, caves, ant nests, deserts, etc.
all year indoors; they are active at night, hide during the day, and avoid direct light
omnivorous: starchy foods, cereals, moist wheat flour, glue on book bindings and wallpaper, starch in clothing made of cotton or rayon fabric; outdoor individuals eat lichens
Lepismatidae is the largest family of silverfish in North America, with the most commonly encountered and widespread species. A second family, Tricholepidiidae, is represented by a single species, the Forest Silverfish (Tricholepidion gertschi), which lives only in northern California forests. A third family, known as Subterranean Silverfish (Nicoletiidae), occurs in Texas and the southeastern states.
may be confused with Bristletails
(order Microcoryphia), which have large eyes that meet in the middle, a cylindrical body, an arched thorax, mandibles that articulate at only one point, are not normally found indoors, and have the ability to jump
distribution of families
in North America, plus other info (Insects of Cedar Creek, Minnesota)
of Common Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina
) and Firebrat (Thermobia domestica
) plus other info in French (Insects of Quebec)
live adult image
of Firebrat plus description and references (David Maddison, Tree of Life)
taxonomic position and history
plus synonyms, authors, and dates (N. Kluge, St. Petersburg State U., Russia)
plus nomenclature and taxonomic references (G.B. Smith, Dept. of Environment and Water Resources, Australia)
, description, distribution, etc. (Matthew Bowser, U. of Alaska at Fairbanks)
description, habits, and control
of silverfish and firebrats (Barb Ogg, U. of Nebraska)