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Firebrat Thermobia domestica, are the important house-dwelling bristletails in United states.

Mole cricket


firebrat is shiny, a mottled gray or brown, and about 1/2 inch long. Adults of both species are slender, wingless, soft-bodied insects with 2 long, slender antennae. Their bodies taper gradually from front to rear to 3 long, thin, taillike appendages.

The firebrat lives in hot, dark places such as around furnaces and fireplaces or insulation around hot water and heat pipes. They follow pipelines from the basement to rooms on lower floors, living in bookcases, around closet shelves, behind baseboards and behind window or door frames.

This is a soil insect (feed at or slightly below the soil surface on roots, tubers and stems) that invades soil in pastures, gardens, field crops and turfgrass. Infestations are usually very spotty and localized. Mole crickets prefer sandy soil and are often found in golf courses and live in 1/2 inch diameter burrows. They are active at night and either tunnel just beneath the surface up to 20 feet per night when soil is moist in search of insect prey or come to the surface and run about freely.

Life Cycle: Eggs of both species are about 1/25 of an inch long. The females lay the eggs in crevices, on cloth, or buried in food or dust. The average clutch contains 50 eggs, but this can vary from 1 to 200. Firebrat eggs hatch in about 14 days and silverfish eggs in about 19 to 32 days. In colder environments eggs can remain dormant for up to 6 weeks, hatching as soon as the temperature rises. firebrats thrive best in very warm, dry places with a relative humidity as low as 30% and temperatures above 90°F, with the optimum being 98° to 102°F. However, they can survive at temperatures ranging from freezing to well above 100°F.



Newly hatched nymphs are about 1/16 of an inch long, plump, white, and have no scales. They acquire their scales about 12 days after their fourth molt; at that point the firebrat look like smaller versions of the adults and gradually grow in size until they reach maturity. Unlike other insects, firebrats molt continuously throughout their life, passing through 45 to 60 instars or development stages. Firebrats live about 2 years and silverfish about 3 years.

Adults have an interesting courtship in which males attract females with a mating dance that includes antennae contact and head wagging, after which the male deposits a protected capsule containing sperm for the female to pick up. To keep the capsule from drying out, males often will lay it on a moist surface, so it is common to see adult insects clustered around damp areas when mating. Firebrats tend to crowd together in a central hiding place during the day to rest, and it is here where the females often lay their eggs. Both sexes produce pheromones, or chemicals, that initiate these aggregations, and when these insects crowd together, it helps regulate the temperature and humidity around the eggs and young nymphs.

Damage: firebrats feed and cause damage to a variety of materials but seem to prefer materials of plant origin that are high in carbohydrates and protein. They feed on glue in bookbindings or behind wallpaper, and on paper, paper sizing, cereal grain products and dried meat. They may also damage silk and some synthetic fabrics, but they usually avoid woolens.

Firebrats prefer dark places and are most active at night. Most species are found outdoors in hidden locations, such as under tree bark and rocks, or in the nests of animals, but human dwellings provide a good environment for a few species. Inside the house, bristletails can be found almost anywhere.

Firebrat Damage

firebrat Damage

Management: Reduce food sources. Keep cereals, flour, meal, pastas, pet foods, and pet treats in airtight containers. Vacuum carpets, flooring, and upholstered furniture regularly. Reduce water sources. Use dehumidifiers in damp basements. Install plastic sheeting on the ground in dirt crawl spaces and ridge vents in roofs let humid air escape. Keep exterior areas caulked and well painted, gutters and downspouts free of debris, and landscaping graded to allow water to drain away from your home.

Reduce harborages. Seamless interior walls limit access to sites such as wall interiors and spaces between ceilings and walls. Bristletails can gain access to these harborages through crevices and cracks under and behind baseboards, windows, and door trim and holes in walls and floors where pipes pass. Use caulking, spackle, or expandable foam to eliminate these openings.

Professional pest control companies have experience controlling many types of insects and can be contracted to develop a management strategy for bristletails.

If you ever have any bug related issues in New York City, feel free to call us either at Beyond Environmental P.C. Once again, and I can't stress this enough we are on call twenty four hours a day seven days a week to kill those bugs, we aren’t kidding whether you call us at 9 am or midnight we will be available to take your call and either get rid of the bug infestation, or answer any questions you may have concerning the bug issue. I can honestly guarantee that there will be someone to answer that call. We make it our business to make you bug free!

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