Hexapods or Firebrats: The Household Pest You Should Probably Be Worrying About
Updated: May 25, 2022
What are hexapods? Never heard of them? How about Thermobia domestica, or Thermophila furnorum? No?
Perhaps you know them by their commonly-used name: Firebrats?
No? Still drawing a blank? Well, you’re not alone. If, like most people, you’ve never heard of firebrats, don’t feel bad. Most people haven’t.
However, just because firebrats don’t make the ‘Top Ten’ list of pests that you must eradicate, doesn’t mean they aren’t a problem. They are. Which obviously begs such questions as: What are firebrats? Why should I be concerned about them? And if they are a ‘get-rid-of-pest’ how should I get rid of them?
What Are Firebrats?
Firebrats are often mistaken for silverfish, which is not surprising since they are both members of the order Zygentoma, a class of insects whose name derives from the Greek ‘zygon’ ̶ meaning ‘yoke’ or ‘bridge’ ̶ and ‘insects’ that are ‘cut into.’ Both insects are wingless, with flat bodies that taper at each end and are protected by overlapping scales.
The Difference Between Firebrats and Silverfish
However, unlike silverfish, which prefer the damp, middling temperatures found in cellars and basements, laundry rooms, under sinks and in bathrooms, firebrats have a preference for hotter, moist environs ̶ and the darker the better. Both firebrats and silverfish thrive on foods that are high in starch and carbohydrates, as well as mold and fungi.
Firebrats Like Nibling Away at Household Items
What makes firebrats especially bothersome is their propensity for wallpaper pastes, textiles, book bindings, papers, even dog food, which they find quite appetizing. In fact, some experts contend that firebrats actually prefer dried beef, beef extract, dead insects and other items that are high in protein. But this has not been established with any certainty.
Actually, you’re unlikely to see firebrats during the day, since they are nocturnal. They are also very nimble and fast on their many feet. And, while they’re not as troublesome or vexing as bed bugs, fleas or mites, they are pests and can contaminate food and stain clothing.
Firebrats will not only ravage whatever paper products you have at hand ̶ and that includes files and other vital paper records ̶ they may well may damage fabrics such as linen, silk, rayon, and cotton. You can easily discern their presence here thanks to the feces they deposit and the scales they tend to shed. Patchy feeding marks on individual fibers, as well as yellow stains ̶ particularly on linens ̶ are a sure sign of firebrat presence.
Firebrat BehaviorAs we noted earlier, firebrats like high temperatures, preferably around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why they are often found in and around boiler rooms, ovens, hot-water heaters and pipes. In fact, firebrats will often use these pipes to travel from basements to rooms on lower floors, where they dwell happily in bookcases, closets, behind baseboards or door frames.
So, while that 100-degree F temperature is ideal for them, firebrats can also thrive at lower temperatures. However, they still require relatively high levels of humidity ̶ ideally 70 to 80 percent ̶ to survive and prosper. Also keep in mind that firebrats can also live outside, usually under rocks, leaf molds, under bark, in the nests of mammals and birds, even in termite and ant nests.
Depending on the environmental conditions and the availability of food, firebrats usually live for two to three years and produce at least 50 eggs at a time. These little firebrats can reach maturity in a few months. And firebrats are nothing if not resilient: They can stay alive for many weeks without food and water. However, even if all they have available is water, they can still survive for up to 300 days.
How to Get Rid of Firebrats
Perhaps the best and most efficient way to eradicate firebrats is to introduce them to Sterifab®.
Why Does Sterifab Work So Well?
Because Sterifab is an exceptionally potent means of eliminating virtually any insect, including the most common types of home invaders, such as bed bugs, lice, ticks, fleas, etc. Of course, you should never, ever, use it on people, animals or cooking utensils, but it can be used effectively on everything else!
Easy to use and will not stain
Without added perfume or unpleasant odor
Fast drying and completely clear
Not harmful to fabrics or carpets
Labeled for use on mattresses and upholstered furniture
Plus, there are no other products registered with the U.S EPA that can make these claims.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Firebrats...for Good
So, now that you’ve gotten rid of your resident firebrats, you need to put some basic measures to keep them out of your home (or office, as the case may be). In order to prevent further firebrat intrusions, we suggest the following steps:
Minimize whatever water sources are practical. You can also employ dehumidifiers in basements, attics, and anywhere else that is prone to damp or excessive moisture build ups. Some people have had success keeping Firebrats out by installing plastic sheeting on the ground in dirt crawl spaces and creating ridge vents in roofs to vent humid air.
In fact, you should do everything you can to remove any sources of unnecessary moisture, which might include:
Mending leaky pipes
Ventilating closed rooms
Eliminating standing water
Firebrats are particularly adept at gaining access to wall interiors and the spaces between ceilings and walls. This they do via the crevices and cracks that invariably exist under and behind baseboards, windows, and door trim and holes in walls and floors where pipes pass. Best to use caulking, spackle, or expandable foam to get rid of these openings.
You should also make every effort to reduce (or better still, eliminate) food sources for these pesky interlopers. One of the most effective ways to do this is by storing cereals, flour, meal, pastas, pet foods, cookies, etc, in sealed boxes or containers.
It’s also a good idea to vacuum carpets, flooring, drapes, upholstery, as well as shelves, cabinets, and storage areas as often as possible.
If you think you have a firebrat infestation, we recommend using Sterifab to get rid of the hexapods.