A DIY Guide on How to Get Rid of Booklice and Prevent an Infestation

How to Get Rid of Booklice
Also called barklice and paperlice, booklice thrive in papers, books, walls, tree barks, and moist places. They do not harm humans or property. The main issue posed by booklice is the nuisance they cause when they are in large numbers. Here is some information on how to get rid of booklice infestation.
HomeQuicks Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Words of Advice
Using insecticides is a great way to get rid of booklice. But avoid spraying them near uncovered food. And keep such chemical products away from the reach of children and animals.
Booklice are insects that belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Order Psocoptera and Class Insecta. The name Psocoptera originates from the Greek words psokos, which means gnawed or rubbed and ptera, which means wings. Booklice have a prominent head with thread-like antennae. The head is connected to the thorax by the neck. The abdomen is broad while the thorax is narrow. They vary in size from about 1 to 6 millimeters in length. They are colorless, gray, or cream in color. Booklice that stay indoors are wingless or sometimes have wings, while the outdoor booklice, usually called barklice, have wings and they live under the barks of trees.

Booklice grow fast in damp and humid conditions. They feed on algae, fungi, lichen, stored flours, oats and cereals, mold, pollen, dead insects, and other animals. Outdoor booklice usually live on bird and mammal nests, foliage, under leaf litter, and on barks and crevices of trees. Indoor booklice live in dark, warm, and damp rooms, duct work, storerooms, libraries or other favorable habitats that provide them with food and shelter. They do not live on or bite other animals like true lice. They do not spread diseases or destroy clothes or furniture. They are harmless when in small numbers, but cause nuisance when in large numbers, as they tend to damage books and wallpapers by eating the mold on the glue of book bindings, coated papers or cardboard and wallpaper. They also contaminate food by feeding on stored or damp grains or cereals, making them unfit for consumption. Hence, their very presence can cause distress. Here are some ways to get rid of booklice.
Ways to Eliminate Booklice
Know the Extent of Infestation
Booklice insects
Look for the places of booklice infestation. Look for books, photographs, a dark basement or storeroom, household stuff, food stored in pantries or cupboards, damp corners or crevices, moist areas created by leaking pipes, roof leaks or air conditioning systems.
Remove Infested Foodstuffs
Lady cleaning kitchen
◆ Discard likely sources of infested food. Empty the cupboard or pantry and inspect every item. Also, check for the labels and look in areas around the lids of jars and tins as booklice may thrive there.

◆ Next, wipe the food spills. Thoroughly clean the contaminated food area with an antibacterial cleaner. If you choose to wash down the place, then make sure it is thoroughly dried.

◆ Now apply an insecticide and spray the infested place. Any cracks and corners should not be left out. Let the spray dry completely and do not place any food in it for a few days.
Increasing the Temperature of the Room
Adjusting thermostat
The infested room or place can be heated to a higher temperature. This will kill the booklice, as they cannot survive high heat.
Good Ventilation
Home ventilation
Ensure that the room is well-ventilated so that moisture is pulled out of the room. A dehumidifier can be used for lowering the humidity levels below 50% so as to hinder the growth of booklice. The windows and doors should be left open as long as possible. Periodic airing and drying of things will prevent mold development on which these insects feed.
Treating Molds
Molds at home
Clean or treat mold, and dry the area thoroughly where booklice are found.
Using a Microwave
Microwave oven
Place infested books and other small items in a microwave for 40 seconds (high heat setting) to kill booklice and their eggs.
Placing Items in the Freezer
Books in freezer
Place infested items in the freezer and allow them to remain there for a few days. This will kill the booklice and their eggs. The lice will die but the eggs may thrive.
Spraying an Insecticide
Man spraying insecticide
Spray an insecticide which contains pyrethrin or cyfluthrin, into cracks or crevices, or any moist area where booklice may be found.
Vacuuming of Infested Places
lady using vacuum cleaner
Vacuuming infested areas is also an effective way. A vacuum cleaner having proper attachments and a narrow vacuum tip can remove the bugs from their dwellings.
Exposing to Light
Sunlight in room
Try to leave as much open space as possible and allow more light to enter the infested areas. This will suppress the booklice activity.
Inform a Pest Control Company
Pest control

In case of severe infestation, it is recommended to call a professional pest control company as they will have the technical knowledge and access to commercial products and equipment that are unavailable to the public.
Prevention
◆ Practice proper hygiene like daily dusting and vacuuming to remove debris from cracks and corners of storage areas.

◆ Try to keep the house well-ventilated and dry. Always keep your dry foodstuffs such as cereals in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. Cleaning out your cupboards regularly, ensuring that they are completely dry before putting your food back will help.

◆ The hiding areas like cracks in the foundation walls or areas around windows or cabinets should be sealed with a waterproof filler and sealants. Prior to this, make sure that you treat fungi or mold, if any. Mend and seal leaking pipework, rain gutters, roof vents, and air conditioning units.

◆ Remove leaf litter, vines, and other debris from the house or the surrounding buildings, to reduce the chances of an outside attack by booklice.

◆ Throw corrugated cardboard boxes and items away, or store them in dry places or in the sun.

◆ Things should be kept away from the walls and ceiling and neatly placed above the floor level by using pallets. Spaces should be provided as much as possible between stacks for proper ventilation.

◆ Check and clean all stored items regularly and clean the place of storage.

◆ Store foodstuffs, especially grain and cereal products in air-tight containers.

◆ A drainage tile system can be installed to prevent rainwater from entering the problem areas.

◆ Avoid storing foods for more than five months.

◆ Use the older items first, as booklice tend to grow as the items age.

◆ Before disposal, place the infested products inside plastic bags to minimize the spread of booklice.