Also commonly referred to as bark flies, book lice are every book collector’s nightmare. They love their books (pun intended) and will feast on your collection of older books if you leave your books unattended and in a damp environment. Book lice are amongst the oldest surviving types of insects having been around for millions of years, over 200 million years to be precise. These insects are scientifically known as psocoptera and are usually known as the most primitive form of hemipteroids. Other types of hemipteroids include cicadas, aphids, shield bugs and leafhoppers.
Anatomy of book lice
Book lice look like miniature termites but they have a distinctly long antennae filament and a prominent head. Right behind the head they have a constriction that better distinguishes them from termites and they also feature well developed eyes. The adults are winged and they can grow up to 2mm. They are found in book, wall paper paste and some species even feed on stored grains. The Liposcelis decolor are fond of grains making them an annoying pest in your grain stores. The species that feeds on wall paper paste and book binding is very common in a new house because they can find the microscopic mould that grows in damp areas that haven’t dried yet in a new house.
Six ways to get rid of book lice
The good news when it comes book lice is that they are not parasitic in nature but they can be extremely destructive to books. If you have valuable books that you want to protect at all costs here are six ways to get rid of book lice.
Clean the house
Cleaning the house and getting rid of the mold is key to eliminating your psocid problem. Cleaning with agents like Borax is helpful in removing the conditions conducive to the reproduction of book lice.
Use a dehumifier
Booklice typically thrive in a damp environment that facilitates the growth of mildew and mold. Using a humidifier helps the room become less humid reducing the moisture levels that can encourage the growth of the booklice food. Use the humidifier and fans interchangeably to increase airflow even as you remove the humidity.
Drop the temperature
Dropping the temperatures to below zero for even as long as an hour is enough to kill psocids. Of course this is not a solution for the house but for the books. Keep the book with the book lice in a very cold environment like in your freezer box and leave it inside for an hour. If the temperatures are low outside place the book outdoors (ensure you have taken protective measures to protect the book).
Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe to use indoor and it can be dusted in the cracks and crevices in a new house to get rid of book lice.
As the humidity levels in a new house decrease as people continue to live in the house the faster booklice diminish and die off. These insects can be more of a nuisance than a major problem.