Booklice Control: Protect Your Home
Scientific Classification: Liposcelis sp.
Also known as psocids, booklice are not true lice. Despite bearing a resemblance to actual lice in size and shape, booklice do not feed on blood but instead eat various microscopic fungi and molds. The tiny insect is usually found in areas of the home with high humidity and may be seen scurrying across books and papers, and even on furniture, walls and other undisturbed areas.
What Do They Look Like?
Size: Booklice are miniscule in size, typically only ranging in length from 1/32 to 3/16 of an inch.
Color: Transparent to gray-white or yellow with hints of brown.
Characteristics: Soft-bodied and typically wingless, booklice appear larger at the head and abdomen than the thorax, which is narrower. Antennae are long and threadlike with multiple segments. All booklice possess chewing mandibles and large, protruding eyes on the sides of the head. Though difficult to see without magnification, the insect is characterized by a large protuberance on the front of the head that almost looks like a nose.
Widely distributed across the United States, booklice live throughout the country and all over the world.
What Do They Eat?
With a diet consisting of molds and other types of plant matter, booklice can be found in any materials existing in the home. Damp, moldy and mildew-laden books, stored papers and even food stocks tend to attract the insects. Other food sources include fungi, insect fragments and starchy materials like the glue in book bindings which gives the pests their common name.
Female booklice may lay up to 50 eggs apiece during their lifespan which typically only lasts around three to six months. Eggs are deposited directly on a food source and depending on humidity, hatch within a month. Young booklice look like smaller versions of adults and typically experience four nymphal stages before reaching sexual maturity.
- Look for booklice in dark, moist places.
- May be found on books, stored papers and similar household items.
- They can sometimes be found on houseplants at times. This is typically the result of their movement from the bottom of the plant’s pot where molds may be found due to overwatering.
Problems Caused by Booklice
More of a nuisance pest than a destructive agent, booklice can still prove problematic for homeowners and residents. The presence of booklice may actually be indicative of problems with excess moisture in pantries and other spaces such as basements, crawlspaces and attics. High levels of moisture tend to facilitate the growth of mold and bacteria which cause more problems for humans than the actual booklice. Larger infestations however, can severely damage books and other paper products in homes, museums and libraries.
Signs of Infestation
Due to the microscopic size of the pest, detecting a booklice infestation may prove difficult. Visible damage to stored pantry products may indicate moisture issues which in turn could lead to the discovery of booklice in the home. Additionally, where books and other paper products are concerned, noticing holes and staining may also indicate the presence of these tiny insects.
Use dehumidifiers or fans to reduce moisture levels throughout the home. Store all boxes, bags, books and important papers off the floor to avoid exposure to dampness. Poor ventilation, trees that hang over rooftops and the presence of leaf litter in the eaves of buildings can also lead to increased dampness in areas that may become vulnerable to infestations of booklice. Mend leaking pipes, eliminate standing water and regularly vacuum in cracks and crevices where the pests can hide.
Tips for Removal from Home
As the insects themselves are not usually destructive on their own, ridding the home of booklice may simply be a matter of properly managing humidity levels and regularly vacuuming the space. For larger infestations, contracting us can help in eliminating the insect once and for all. Certified pest management specialists know and understand the proper materials necessary for complete removal and can implement personalized strategies to keep booklice out of the home.