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How To Control Book Lice

The Problem

The most common booklouse (Liposcelis spp.) is a small, grayish, soft-bodied insect with chewing mouthparts and long antennae. It has a very flat shape superficially resembling the shape of head lice. The common house-dwelling booklouse is wingless or its wings are reduced to small scale-like, non-functional wings. The size of an adult is approximately 1/25 to 1/12 inch. Booklice cause little direct damage to plants and wood because they feed chiefly on mould. They are found commonly in confined areas like the bindings of books, where they eat the starch sizing in the bindings and along the edges of pages.

Characteristics of booklice:

  • Eggs hatch in 21 days.
  • The life cycle from egg to adult is around 110 days, with the insect moulting two to three times.
  • Adults lay 20 to 50 eggs depending on seasonal conditions, and live 24 to 110 days.
  • The biotic potential is 120 to 456 offspring per female.
  • They prefer warm, moist conditions that are conducive to the growth of mould and mildew and require humidity of at least 60%.
  • Found in books and paper products.
  • Sometimes found on houseplants where they may be feeding on honeydew (a protein-rich substance excreted by plant-eating insects such as aphids), or more likely, on the sooty mould that grows on the honeydew.

Detection

Booklice prefer damp and warm habitats, so they are most numerous during the spring and summer. New buildings are not immune to infestations of booklice. It is essential that conducive conditions to booklice development be identified before control measures can be initiated. Silverfish, firebrats, and booklice can be detected by placing sticky Insect Monitor Traps in the area where damage is occurring.

Booklice are often seen running around on work sufaces and on walls. Quite often there is no obvious evidence of damp conditions but be aware that behind refrigerators and air conditioning units, there may be temporary dampness that will permit mould growth on which booklice can feed.

Treatment Methods

Physical Control

Dehumidifying

Dehumidifying reduces the moisture content of the air that these insects find essential. Some methods for dehumidifying include:

  • Mend leaking pipes.
  • Ventilate closed rooms and attics.
  • Eliminate standing water.
  • Use a dehumidifier

Vacuuming

Regularly vacuuming cracks and crevices with a narrow vacuum tip also can be a good method to physically remove these insects from their harborages.

Removal of food

Excess food material should be eliminated. Food sources that can not be removed should be sealed in containers.

Eliminating Harborage Sites

Wherever possible, potential hiding areas should be sealed with caulk, especially around windows, cabinets, and mouldings. Increasing the lighting makes harborages less hospitable. Removal of leaf litter from around the home can decrease the chance of an outside invasion.

Drying Stored Articles

Periodic airing and drying of articles stored in damp areas may help reduce the mould on which these insects feed. Disposing of mouldy articles is often the simplest way of removing an infestation in an area.

Treating

Booklice can be difficult and most people discover them in the kitchen, which is not the best place to be applying insecticides. However, our new product for 2016 Organisect comes very highly recommended to use where a dust/powder is not suitable, can be used all around the home and is completely safe to use around children and pets.

A product placed into the UK market in 2011 is, Oa2Ki Diatomaceous Earth Aerosol Spray, this lends itself perfectly to Booklice control. The product is made from single cell plants that existed millions of years ago, these are usually mined from old lake beds in Canada. Diatomaceous Earth has many uses and in insect control, it attacks the outer cuticle of the insect and absorbs moisture, thereby dehydrating the insect to the point of death.

Usually, DE is supplied as a powder, which would be impossible to apply to vertical surfaces, however, the aerosol formulation allows application to vertical and even the underside of horizontal surfaces as it is dispensed as a liquid which rapidly dries on surfaces leaving the dust affixed to the surface. It can be easily brushed off once the infestion is cleared.

We suggest you test a small area of the surface to ensure staining will not occur.

As Booklice are moisture dependant, the use of Diatomaceous Earth is the ideal control measure.