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Control

Booklice are tricky to control with insecticide because they have a tolerance to permethrin and probably to other pyrethroids. The best product to use is diatomaceous earth. This is a natural product that works by dehydrating the insect to the point of death. 

Remove the conditions that booklice need to survive. Address the damp by ventilating rooms, using a dehumidifier, mending any leaks etc. Vacuum regularly to physically remove the pests and seal up any cracks that could provide potential harbourage with caulk.

Description

Booklice (psocids) are very small, soft-bodied insects that are quite common and perfectly harmless. They are similar in appearance to the common headlouse, hence their name, but they are not a louse. Neither are they associated with dirt or poor hygiene.

  • Pale yellow-brown in colour
  • Wingless
  • About 1mm in length
  • Enlarged hind legs
  • Long, slender antennae
  • Some indoor species produce tapping sounds as they beat their abdomen against whatever they are standing on
  • Lifecycle

    Booklice have an incomplete lifecycle which means they go through nymphal moults to become adults

    All adults are female and lay relatively large eggs at a rate of about 2 per day. Eggs are laid in crevices, about 100 per female.

    The optimum temperature for this species seems to be between 25º and 30ºC when a complete lifecycle can take three to four weeks. A much slower development takes place at lower temperatures.

    Habitats

    Booklice thrive in damp, warm conditions and are consequently more prevalent in spring and summer.

  • They are commonly found in kitchens, where they have infested damp cereals or flour and where humidity is high.
  • They feed primarily on mould so can also be found behind peeling wallpaper or where there is damp plaster. They are sometimes visible on walls.
  • They are also attracted to the starch in bookbindings so homes with large undisturbed book collections can be a prime target.
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