Saturday 23 December 2023

Silverfish Minuet

 Call me weird but I've always found silverfish rather enchanting creatures. With their silvery, tapering bodies and fish-like movements, they live up to their name, and their unusual form speaks of their incredibly ancient origin, possibly as much as 400 million years ago, long before the age of the dinosaurs. 
I was fascinated by the silverfish in my boyhood home in Ealing, and now, many years later, I was delighted to find them in the flat in Lichfield (and even a few in the house – are they a Lichfield thing?). I know they are capable of damaging books (they like the taste of glue, as well as paper), but they've never given me any trouble on that front. And now I like them even more, having read in Wikipedia of their elegant courtship ritual. I quote: 
'Before silverfish reproduce, they carry out a ritual involving three phases, which may last over half an hour. In the first phase, the male and female stand face to face, their vibrating antennae touching, then repeatedly back off and return to this position. In the second phase, the male runs away and the female chases him. In the third phase, the male and female stand side by side and head to tail, with the male vibrating his tail against the female. Finally, the male lays a spermatophore, a sperm capsule covered in gossamer, which the female takes into her body via her ovipositor to fertilise her eggs.' 
A veritable minuet...

No comments:

Post a Comment