Linda Louise Johnson’s witty pet articles and poems-this one, especially-inspired me to write this less-witty article.
It’s become a bedtime ritual. Before I turn off the light in my bedroom, I check to see if he’s still alive. And he always is. Sometimes I have to tap on his glass cage to make him wriggle.
“Why isn’t he dead yet?” my compassionate husband and I complain. (Our unusual pet might not even be a “he.” “She” might be laying 30 eggs in the ceiling fan’s light fixture above my bed as I write this.) It’s not that we want him to die-unless he manages to escape and drops down onto our bed and skitters all over our faces while we’re sleeping.
Up until today, when I did a bit of research on Wikipedia, I was convinced that we had accidentally captured the most amazing silverfish in the world. It turns out, there’s nothing special about our silverfish pet, Bob. Nothing!
Eating Habits and Life Expectancy of Silverfish
I don’t know if our silverfish friend climbed into the round light fixture on purpose or if he fell in. Are silverfish known for their clumsiness? Anyway, he’s trapped in the light now, with a pile of tiny dead bugs (I can see their silhouettes through the frosted glass).
At first, I assumed our silverfish was eating those tiny dead bugs to stay alive, but Wikipedia informed me that “silverfish can live for a year or more without eating.” And they “typically live for two to eight years.” I had no idea! The silverfish in my bedroom could be older than my children! My husband and I, silly know-nothings, were convinced that our silverfish had superpowers because he’d survived inside the light fixture for over a month. (Our efficient fluorescent light bulb never gets hot enough to roast him.)
The fact is, our silverfish might be eating the tiny dead bugs, or even his own molted exoskeleton-yum! But silverfish would rather hide in moist, dark areas and eat starchy polysaccharides, such as glue, wallpaper paste, book bindings, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, flour, hair, carpet, clothing, dandruff, and tapestries (read more about silverfish on Wikipedia or this DIY pest-control website).
Now I know what to feed my pet silverfish. And if I forget to feed him for a year, it’s no big deal. I’ll praise him when he eats dandruff and hair-as long as they’re not still attached to a live person’s scalp-and dead bugs, and I’ll scold him when he tries to chew up my curtains and wallpaper. Yes, that’ll show him who’s boss.
A Tough Decision: Should I Exterminate My Silverfish or Set Him Free?
Who am I kidding? I’m not cut out to be a silverfish owner. I guess I’ve been a fool all these years, thinking silverfish don’t hurt anything. I’ve purposely not killed them many times-mostly because I didn’t want to leave silvery-brown bug-guts marks on the wall.
I bet it was a silverfish family that chewed holes in a bunch of my cardboard boxes and my kids’ play tents in the basement! Even so, I’m not going to spray insecticides around my house or use bait to get rid of Bob’s silverfish cousins…But they’re so icky and I can’t just let them feast on my old wallpaper paste! Oh, what am I going to do with you, little Lepisma saccharina?
Thank goodness for husbands. Mine came home to take me out to lunch today, and as soon as he heard that Bob-the-not-so-extraordinary-silverfish might live for another eight years inside the light fixture above our bed, he stalked back to our bedroom, unscrewed the light fixture, marched outside and dumped Bob and his dead-bug snacks onto the rocks.
I’m a little ticked that I didn’t get to take a picture of my silverfish buddy first, but I’m pleased that Bob is free again. Free to find another way into my house…to lay eggs and snack on the wallpaper paste in my son’s room.
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