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Temporal range: Aptian–Recent
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Zygentoma
Family: Lepismatidae
Latreille, 1802

Lepismatidae is a family of primitive wingless insects with about 190 described species. This family contains the two most familiar members of the order Zygentoma: the silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum) and the firebrat (Thermobia domestica). It is one of five families in the order Zygentoma.

Lepismatids are elongated, flattened insects, the majority of which are scavengers. The abdomen is usually clothed in tiny scales and terminates with three "tails" of roughly equal length. The compound eyes are small and well separated.

They typically live in warm, damp environments, including indoors. They avoid light.[1]


Member of Strepsiptera family Mengenillinidae exclusively parasitise members of Lepismatidae. Host-species relationships include: Eoxenos laboulbenei on Tricholepisma aureum, Neoasterolepisma wasmanni and N. palmonii; Mengenilla parvula on Sceletolepisma michaelseni; Mengenilla nigritula on Ctenolepisma ciliatum and Ctenolepisma sp.; Mengenilla laevigata, M. quasita, M. spinulosa and M. subnigrescens on C. lineatum; and an unidentified species of Strepsiptera on Mormisma peyerimhoffi.[2]

Parasitic Apicomplexa are often found in the intestinal tract, especially the crop, of Lepismatidae. Ctenolepisma lineatum contains on average 15 parasite specimens per animal.[3] Several species of gregarine parasites have been recorded from the intestinal tract of the gray silverfish:[2]

Lepismatidae species gregarine parasites
Acrotelsa collaris Colepismatophila watsonae, Garnhamia aciculata, Lepismatophila thermobiae
Ctenolepisma calvum Colepismatophila burti, Garnhamia aciculata, Lepismatophila orientalis
Ctenolepisma lineatum Lepismatophila parva, Lepismatophila ctenolepismae
Ctenolepisma longicaudatum Garnhamia aciculata, Lepismatophila ctenolepismae
Ctenolepisma nigrum Colepismatophila buckleyi, Lepismatophila orientalis
Ctenolepisma sp. Garnhamia aciculata, Lepismatophila cornwalli
Lepisma saccharinum Gregarina lagenoides, Lepismatophila thermobiae, unidentified Colepismatophila species and Gregarinidae species
Thermobia domestica Colepismatophila watsonae, Lepismatophila thermobiae and an unidentified Gregarinidae species


These genera belong to the family Lepismatidae:[4][5][6][7]


  1. ^ Eric Tentarelli (2012). A Guide to Insects. Blackwell. p. 128.
  2. ^ a b Paclt, Jiří (1967). "Thysanura Fam. Lepidotrichidae, Maindroniidae, Lepismatidae". Genera Insectorum (in French). 218: 1–86.
  3. ^ Lasker, Reuben; Giese, Arthur C. (1956). "Cellulose digestion by the silverfish Ctenolepisma ciliata". Journal of Experimental Biology. 33 (3): 542–553.
  4. ^ "Lepismatidae". Animal Diversity. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Lepismatidae Report". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  6. ^ "Lepismatidae". GBIF. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  7. ^ "Family Lepismatidae information". BugGuide.net. Retrieved 2020-01-26.