Skin eating bug is invading Dublin homes

by Sylvia Pownall

Dublin accounts for more than half of callouts to treat infestations of silverfish, with one pest control company recording an 89% increase in the past three months.

The creepy insect, which gets its name from its slithering motion, likes cold and damp conditions and can lay up to 60 eggs a day.

An infestation can result in damage to books, photographs, paintings and even plaster according to leading pest control company Rentokil.

It says since September it has seen a huge increase in callouts to deal with the slithery insects which feed on human debris such as skin and hair.

Rentokil consultant Richard Faulkner said silverfish numbers have been continuously rising over the last few years.

“We have two main species,” he said. “We have the common silverfish and then we have what is known as a grey silverfish.”

“I always explain them as a torpedo-shaped insect. They have three large bristles coming off their back end, they have two really long antennae on their head that loop back and they move at quite a pace across the floor.

“In a sense that is where they get their name. They are a silvery grey colour and they are sort of like a fish shape.”

Rentokil predicts that callouts will continue to rise in colder months as the bugs seek shelter indoors in dark, damp and humid places such as bathrooms and attics.

Richard said: “To me they are more of a nuisance pet. They feed on cellulose and starch but they can do damage to paintings and things like that.

“Anything that contains starch and cellulose, especially if it is a little bit damp, they are going to feed on that.

He said the best way to prevent a home invasion from the unwanted critters is to make sure they have nothing to feed on.

“It is really about good housekeeping, hoovering, sweeping up debris in the kitchen,” he said.

“Then dehumidification as well. Taking the moisture out of the air, opening your windows, drying the place out a bit.

“Also, anything you have that is quite starchy – pastas, rices and cereals – make sure it is all kept in sealed containers and if there are any spillages in cupboards make sure they are cleaned up quickly.

“Make sure all cracks in walls and skirting boards are filled.”

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