line.gif - 1064 Bytes
collared dove


Saturday, 31st August 2002, West Yorkshire

silverfishSilverfish are primitive insects, similar to some of the earliest insects that scuttled about in the first forests of the Devonian and the Carboniferous periods some three or four hundred million years ago. To tell you the truth I quite like to glimpse the odd one occasionally scuttling away across the kitchen floor; it's puts your life into perspective knowing that similar creatures were scuttling around when the first vertebrates - including our distant ancestors - found their way onto land. They, or creatures very like them, saw the dinosaurs come and go.

I say saw the dinosaurs but their eyesight is rudimentary, they rely more on their long antennae (omitted from my sketch), which must be more useful than eyes in the damp crevices in which they hide.

Flexible Armour

trilobite Their silvery colour comes from their reflective scales. A close-up photograph reveals flexible armour, like that of a trilobite (left, a specimen which I believe came from Morocco) or like one of those flexible metallic fish that are sometimes sold as key fobs. The trilobite, a marine creature, was not closely related to the land-living insects.

Kitchen Sink Drama

With four silverfish stuck in the sink this morning, I feel the time has come to do something about them. They are referred to as pests but as they feed on starch - including wallpaper paste and bookbindings - they're unlikely to do too much damage as they scavenge around the kitchen floor . . . unless they find Barbara's recipe books. Part of the kitchen wall dates from the 1930s and the damp-proof course needs some attention and we've got that in hand but in the meantime I will put flexible filler in the knife-blade-thick gap between the kitchen tiles and the work surfaces. That way at least these 'living fossils' won't be in danger of blundering into the pitfall trap of our kitchen page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; ''