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Key features

Firebrats are members of a primitive order of insects which moult as adults and have segmental appendages on their abdomen – both of these are features extremely ancient insects.

The adult, when mature, is around 11mm in length and generally grey in colour with dark markings, most prominently on the thoracic segments.

The antennae are as long as, or longer than, the length of the body, and there are three processes extending from the posterior end of the abdomen and other short appendages on some of the hindmost abdominal segments, as well as many short bristles covering the whole body.


The female firebrat lays eggs, soft white and about 1mm in length, in small batches, and from the eggs emerge the first stage nymph.

The development of the firebrat then takes place through a series of moults which, as mentioned above, continue throughout the adult stage. As many as 60 stages have been recorded. The adult females reach their sexual maturity and acquire egg laying potential around stages 14 to 17.

Firebrats are normally encountered in areas of sustained warmth and require continued warmth for their successful development. In common with other insects, development times are influenced by temperature, relative humidity, moisture content, quantity and quality of food.

Eggs will not hatch below 22°c and at a temperature of around 27°c development from egg to maturation as an adult takes around 350 days while at 42°c this is reduces to 45 days.

This high temperature is nearing the lethal limit and the optimum for development is generally thought to be 36°c to 41°c with a relative humidity of 80%. However, very little water is lost through the cuticle and water vapour from the air may be absorbed down to a relative humidity of 45%.


Worldwide where the temperature and humidity conditions are correct.


These insects are found in areas of such high temperature that in the UK they are restricted to bakeries and kitchens. In such areas the amount of damage they do is very limited and is generally their mere presence that constitutes the nuisance, although they are known to nibble bread products and packaging.

In addition, they may damage textiles such as cotton, linen and silk.

Damage to wallpaper is well known, as they are attracted by starch and pastes.


Please call East Lancashire Pest Control on 0800 023 6116


Please call East Lancashire Pest Control on 0800 023 6116