1. HELP! What Are These Tiny Bugs In My Books?

DECEMBER 09 2021 / HOME

HELP! What Are These Tiny Bugs In My Books?

Have you started noticing small brown bugs lining your bookshelf or within the pages of your books?

Booklice could be the culprits

These tiny white bugs have caused a lot of confusion and panic in homeowners over the years.

The panic ensues as you open an old book on your shelf and think that dust is moving everywhere—until you realize that it’s crawling and isn’t dust at all. These occasional invaders are probably the Psocids commonly referred to as booklice. 

However, to the surprise of many of our clients, they are nothing like lice and are rarely only found in books.

 

What Are Booklice?

Booklice are a species of psocids, meaning that they primarily feed on fungi or mold within the environment.

While they are named booklice because of their superficial resemblance to lice species found in hair, they are not considered true lice. 

Booklice are opportunistic household-dwelling insects that seek damp and warm areas inside your home that aren’t likely to be disturbed—like an old bookshelf in the basement, or molded foods in the pantry.

This is because booklice feed on a variety of things like mold, fungi, starches, and dead insects.

Some Psocid species even feed on the glue that binds books and wallpaper.  

Booklice are most commonly found in the colder months of the year, as they are forced to come inside from the cold to avoid dying. From there, they will quickly become an adult within a few months, usually as warmer weather arrives - creating areas of high heat and moisture in the process. 

While they most commonly feed on or around books, this isn’t the only place they can be found.

They can also commonly be found in and around furniture, stored foods, rugs, paper products, cardboard boxes, home voids, and practically any area of high humidity within the home.

 

How to reduce and control booklice in your home

The struggle for our clients is that in our region most Psocids are no more than 1-6 millimeters in size.

Therefore, without a magnifying lens, they are nearly impossible to properly identify. Along with their small size, to the untrained eye, these bugs could even be confused with bed bug nymphs.

However, to an entomologist, it is easy to spot the difference between booklice and bed bugs.

Psocids have a more elongated body with three defined segments, a pronounced head, and long “threadlike” antennae. Bed bug nymphs have a less elongated body, elbowed antennae, and do not appear to have a neck.

lice under microscope view

If you find booklice don’t panic—they are common in old and new homes alike and they don’t feed on humans or pose any real threat.

Simply call us at American Pest to inspect your home and help you identify problem spots that may attract these occasional home invaders. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us. You can even submit a picture of what you think may be a Psocid here!