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Firebrat

General
The firebrat Thermobia domestica Packard is fairly common in heated buildings. It is easy to confuse the firebrat with the silver fish.

Appearance
A wingless insect, up to 12 mm long; the body is covered with fine scales; the insect has 2 long antennas on its head and 3 long appendages to its abdomen crawls with fast, snake-like movements, grey in colour and clearly speckled on its back.

Development
Incomplete metamorphosis. Egg stadium: the eggs are dropped in heaps; dimensions about 1 x 0.8 mm in temperatures below 22°Celsius the eggs can’t get beyond the larvae state: the number of stages is variable (up to 13 stages); under optimal circumstances (37° and 80% rel. humidity) the younger stages take about 2-5 days and the older stages up to 8 days. Lifespan: depending on temperature and humidity 2.5 to 3 years; during the adult stage, moult still takes place (up to 60 times).

Lifestyle
Light shunning; hide during the day food: mainly carbohydrates, such as starch, sugars etc. In addition, there is a (limited) need for protein and fats. Temperature: preferably 32 – 38°Celsius; 42°Celsius is bearable as well relative humidity: eggs can still hatch at 11% rel. humidity; however, 33% and higher is preferred. Total development takes place at 50% rel humidity.

Damage
When firebrats exist in great numbers (dry, warm area) they can cause significant damage to paper, wallpaper, books, posters, products of synthetic material, such as clothing, wall covering etc.

Spreading
Firebrats are very common and can easily hitch-hike on all kinds of products and materials.

Prevention & Control
Keep temperature as low as possible, general hygiene. A treatment of all seams and cracks in the house with a residual-acting pesticide (in linked houses, all linked houses should be treated)

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