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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500528
06/24/03

Booklice



The common booklouse (Liposcelis corrodens Heymons) is wingless, light straw colored (almost translucent) and only 1/25-1/12 inch (1-2mm). It looks somewhat similar to an aphid ("plant louse") but is smaller and has chewing instead of sucking mouthparts.

Booklice may be found in all parts of both old and new homes, warehouses, and libraries, most often where it is dusty, warm and damp. They are frequently found on furniture, clothing, bedding, walls, window sills, in kitchen cupboards, in or near books, and in old bee and wasp nests. They also infest stored products such as flour and ground grains. Booklice do little damage to household goods, but their activity is an annoyance. They feed on molds and mildews, which are probably their most important food source, as well as fragments of dead insects, pollen and other dead vegetable and animal matter. They damage the paste on book bindings and wallpaper, and may be found in stored cereals. Although these insects are not parasitic, they can be a source of so-called "bites" because of the dermatitis they cause to certain sensitive individuals.

Integrated Booklice Management

For best control, dry out the infested area. Booklice are seldom found in clean, dry, heated buildings. Repair all leaky or sweaty pipes and install a vapor barrier in the crawl space. Use a dehumidifier if necessary. Vent clothes dryer outside (check vent pipe fittings and prevent lint buildup). Store all cardboard boxes and their contents at least 10-12 inches off the floor. Keep window sills free of debris and remove all old wasp and bird nests. Infested furnishings and other moveable items should be thoroughly cleaned and aired. Insecticides are seldom needed, but if required, a pyrethrin can be used. Use a pyrethrin aerosol on items such as books. However, remember that most insecticides can stain fabrics and other porous surfaces, so use them with caution.

For a complete listing of suggested control options for all home, yard and garden insect pests contact your local Extension Service, found under local government in the phone book.

Read and follow instructions on the pesticide label. Heed all warnings. Check with your physician if you have any concerns regarding your personal health risk.

References

Revised by Tom Ellis, M.S., Department of Entomology

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