How to get rid of booklice

How to Get Rid of Booklice


How to get rid of booklice

Booklice are tiny bugs that are relatively common in Singapore. Also known as psocids, booklice are especially attracted to warm and humid climates. Hence, Singapore is an ideal spot for booklice to thrive. The tiny bugs feed on mold and fungus, so you will often find them in kitchens and bathrooms. Books that are located in damp areas can sometimes be riddled with a booklice infestation. There are some things you can do to get rid of booklice. In this article we will discuss 5 tips as well as some natural treatment methods.

Identifying Booklice

Before getting rid of booklice, it is important identify them accurately. They are tiny insects, approximately 1 to 2 mm in length. The colour of booklice varies depending on the species, but generally they are white or grayish-brown. Another specific way to identify booklice is by their six legs and antennae on their heads. Booklice also have wings but strangely enough they are not very good at flying. Do you recognize any of these characteristics when checking your surroundings for booklice? Then it is likely you have an infestation. Let’s look at ways to eliminate booklice.

What are the main characteristics of booklice and bed bugs?

5 tips on how to get rid of booklice in your home

Here are five tips to help you get rid of booklice in your home.

1. Reduce humidity

We know that booklice love the warm and humid environments such as the Singapore climate. Naturally, what you can do to reduce the presence of booklice is minimize moisture levels in your environment. You can use:

  • Dehumidifiers
  • Fans

These two tools help circulate the air and keeps the humidity levels low. In addition, check for any leaks as to avoid unnecessary added humidity indoors.

2. Clean up debris

We often talk about keeping your home and offices clean at all times. This helps prevent and get rid of not just booklice, but all types of pests. So regularly clean the counters, hoover the floors, get rid of thrash and keep all food items sealed airtight. Basically, your job is to remove all items that attract pests such as booklice.

3. Use insecticides

Cleaning your home and reducing the humidity levels may not be enough, depending on the stage of the booklice infestation. You may need to use insecticide sprays targeting booklice. While we generally advice to go for tip 5, if you do decide to take action yourself, make sure to reach the instructions of the insecticide carefully when applying chemicals indoors.

4. Seal cracks and crevices

Cracks and crevices are on the main reasons pests get access to your home or office. So make sure to check all rooms, corners, windows and doors for any cracks and crevices. Apply the correct sealing materials to help keep booklice away.

5. Contact an exterminator

If all else fails, Killem prevails. We are a professional pest control company in Singapore with experience treating booklice for more than 30 years. We can offer specific and effective pest treatments to get rid of your booklice problem in no time.

The Ultimate Guide to Booklice

Visit Guide
guide to booklice in your home

Natural solutions to get rid of booklice

So far we’ve talked about the main tips to get rid of booklice. Now let’s look at some natural solutions, as this is something people frequently ask about. A side note here is that natural solutions may sometimes not be effective depending on the size of the booklice infestation.

If you do want to try out natural solutions, one of the more effective ways to eliminate booklice is to use essential oils. Peppermint oil and tea tree oil may be good starting points. They can be used as a spray by diluting it with water and then spraying onto the infested areas.

Vinegar solutions may also provide a good natural treatment option. Mix one part with vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Then apply the mix to the infested areas. Be careful, this is a strong mix that could discolour items in your home or office.

Pro Tip: If you have a large booklice infestation, using strong dehumidifiers will help reduce the excessive amount of moisture and eliminate the booklice.

How to prevent future booklice infestations

If you’ve applied any of the tips from above, you will have hopefully found a solution for your booklice infestation. You may now be wondering how you can prevent future booklice infestations.

Let’s start with the bookshelves. Make sure to position bookshelves away from walls where moisture tends to be most present. We also recommend continuing to use dehumidifiers frequently as this helps keep the environment unappealing for booklice.

Regular cleaning will help keep booklice away. This includes vacuuming, sealing food and especially keeping the kitchen clean.

booklice prevention infographic


We know that booklice can cause real problems if their presence goes by undetected. By applying the right measure to get rid and prevent booklice, you can make sure to be free from booklice infestations. Focus your attention on all the items that make the environment unappealing for booklice, such as lowering the humidity levels. Finally, if you are unsure of what to do or all your efforts appear to have no impact, contact your nearest pest control exterminator.

Author: Soleha Nisaa

Frequently Asked Questions

Getting rid of the infested items, reducing the humidity and increasing ventilation will typically kill booklice in your home.

Check the common spaces that get infested with booklice, such as kitchen cupboards and appliances, books and magazines, storage rooms, and other humid dark places in your home.

Freezing containers, products, and books for 24 hours can kill booklice at any stage of their life span, including when they are still just eggs.

Booklice versus bed bugs main differences

Booklice Versus Bed Bugs: What Are the Main Differences?


Booklice versus bed bugs main differences

We often get questions about the differences between booklice and bed bugs. If you want to spot and remove an infestation of booklice or bed bugs, you need to know the signs of both.

Booklice versus bed bugs: Why is it important to know the difference between the two?

Each type of pest infestation is aggravating to home and business owners. Understanding the type and size of an infestation is critical to determine the right treatment method. When it comes to booklice and bed bugs, both types of pests behave differently.

While booklice are generally harmless, bed bugs bites can be painful to humans. Booklice and bed bugs are also active in different areas. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.

booklice vs bed bugs comparison infographic

What are the main characteristics of booklice and bed bugs?

  1. Booklice are smaller than bed bugs
  2. Bed bugs feed on blood, booklice feed on mould or mildew
  3. Bed bugs leave painful and itchy bites on humans, while booklice do not bite

What you need to know about bed bugs

Signs of bed bugs and booklice

We now know that bed bugs and booklice behave differently. Are you concerned that you may have an infestation of bed bugs or booklice? Let’s sum up the main signs.

The main signs of a bed bugs infestation include:

  • Reddish stains on bed sheets
  • Dark spots on the mattress
  • Dark spots on other furniture
  • A sweet, musty smell
  • Bites and itches on your skin (red spots)

The main signs of a booklice infestation include:

  • Powdery or small black spots near cardboard materials and books
  • Crawling insects near windows, doors, bookcases and areas with high humidity

The Ultimate Guide to Booklice

Visit Guide
old book with booklice

Bed bugs versus booklice: What damage can they cause?

The most important creature to cause damage is a bed bug. They leave painful, itchy bites on the human flesh. Booklice are not that interested in human beings.

Both bed bugs and booklice can cause material damage. In the case of bed bugs, they can turn your bedroom into a living hell. Stains of blood from bed bugs is the most common damage caused by the little insects.

Booklice spend most of their time around products made of paper and cardboard. Hence, one of the most common types of damage caused by booklice is the destruction of books. You may also want to protect your most important paper documents to prevent booklice from destroying them.

Pro Tip: To get rid of any infestation, you need to identify what type of pests you are dealing with and where they come from.

How to remove bed bugs and booklice?

Let’s move to the most important part of our comparison of bed bugs versus booklice. There are various approaches to removing pest infestations.

If you think you have a booklice infestation, you can take some action yourself to try to remove them. One of the things you can do is reduce humidity by using dehumidifiers. If you have any water leakage, it is also worth to get it fixed. There are some essential oils that may prove to be helpful, such as peppermint and lavender oil.

A bed bugs infestations is much more serious and requires the intervention of a professional. Contact your nearest pest control company for an inspection and removal treatment. If you do want to take some action yourself in the meantime, it is a good practice to wash your bedding frequently in hot water. This will help prevent further aggravation in the short term. To get rid of the bed bugs infestation for good, a pest control technician needs to come in and go to the source of the problem.

Author: Soleha Nisaa

Frequently Asked Questions

Booklice can be easily mistaken for bed bugs, especially bed bug nymphs. Both are light-colored but bed bug nymphs have less elongated bodies.

Booklice are less harmful to people and animals as they don’t bite, however, both bed bugs and booklice can cause some disruption and stress.

Booklice can be found anywhere with moisture, including upholstered furniture, damp papers or books, and old mattresses.

Bed bugs can be mistaken for bat bugs, spider beetles, baby cockroaches, carpet beetles, ticks, fleas, booklice, or headlice.

booklice guide singapore

The Ultimate Guide to Booklice


booklice guide singapore

What are Booklice?

Booklice are tiny insects only about 1 to 2 mm in length. They are soft-bodied insects classified in the insect family Psocidae. Booklice in Singapore can be a nuisance as they are often found indoors in peoples’ houses or offices. 

Further booklice facts are that they are also called psocids and are not actually lice. Booklice are white or brown in colour and may or may not have wings depending on the particular species. Most of the time booklice you find inside will be the wingless species.

booklice fact

Life Cycle

There is no pupal stage in the development of booklice because they are one of the more primitive types of insects. They pass through an egg, larval, and adult stage during their life. The larval stage looks like a miniature adult and molts as it grows. 

They can lay up to 50 eggs and can complete development in 4 weeks. However, in colder temperatures, this insect takes about three times as long to finish development.  

In suitable conditions, booklice can produce multiple generations a year and can grow to large numbers without you even realizing it.

Where Do Booklice Come From?

Booklice are found in humid areas, and in nature, you often find them under bark or in leaf litter. They can get into the home through the tiniest of gaps or spaces.  

Another one of the causes of booklice getting inside is when people carry in firewood from outdoors or bring home books or other items from a second-hand shop or from long-term storage where mould and mildew have developed.  

They like moist conditions so you can expect to find more booklice if the conditions in your home are on the humid side. They will often inhabit moist and dark areas where they may not be noticed.

Pro Tip: The best way to prevent booklice is to eliminate the moisture in your home and seal the cracks and gaps where booklice may be entering.

Do Booklice Bite?

Booklice do not bite and are small insects that may not be easy to detect. They feed on starchy substances and also mould and mildew. They are considered pests because they like to chew up the glue used in book bindings and they do sometimes get into stored food items. 

The presence of booklice may also mean that conditions are favourable for other pest insects like silverfish and cockroaches.

Damage Caused by Booklice

Psocids are not as damaging to property as some other pest insects are but they are nonetheless a nuisance. They do chew up the glue in books, meaning that the book pages may come undone. Over time this weakens the books and pages may fall out. 

Occasionally you may find booklice inside food like your cereal and other grain products. This is annoying and a person usually won’t want to eat food that has living insects crawling in it.

booklice damage

How to Prevent Booklice?

Booklice enjoy humid and warm conditions, which is why a good strategy is to make sure your home is not overly humid. Below we have included some useful booklice prevention tips to help you stop an infestation from occurring. 

  • Using a dehumidifier can help to remove excess moisture in the air and you should also check that there are not any leaking faucets or pipes in the bathroom or kitchen area. 
  • Vacuum and dust often and avoid accumulating clutter which makes it hard to notice when there is a pest problem. This is true for all pest insects that can invade your home. 
  • Another good strategy is to increase the ventilation of air throughout the home. Open doors and windows during the day on dry and warm days. This can help moisture to evaporate. 
  • Use airtight containers to store your food in to prevent pests like booklice from gaining access.

Get more DIY pest control methods

Signs of a Booklice Infestation

You may wonder how to spot booklice? There are some signs that you can look for that may indicate a booklice problem. You may notice tiny insects moving in your flour or cereal. These could be booklice. You may also notice a tiny insect scurry out from between the pages of a book.  

It is wise to frequently check for any signs of insect damage or the presence of insects. When checking for booklice, you should look in closed drawers and humid areas, and also open a few books up to see if there are any booklice running around. 

In general, booklice are difficult to detect because they are so small. The darker-coloured booklice usually are easier to spot because they are darker and will show up against light surfaces.

Booklice versus Bed Bugs

One mistake people may make is confusing booklice with bedbugs, which is why we have included a brief summary of how these two insects differ. 

Booklice can be misidentified as bed bugs because both are tiny insects that people may come across in their home. There are some differences though that are described below. 

  • Booklice have a large head relative to the size of the body
  • They will be found in books and on stored products while bed bugs occur on beds and furniture like sofas.
  • Booklice are skinnier, in other words, the body is not round and oval the way a bed bug is.
  • If you have a bed bug infestation you will quickly know it because you will have bites and notice stains on the bed. This is not the case with booklice.

The Ultimate Guide to Bed Bugs Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

Visit Guide
bed bugs vs booklice identification

How to Get Rid of Booklice?

Getting rid of booklice involves a few methods. One of the most effective is to decrease the humidity in the home. We have already mentioned that dehumidifiers are a smart idea when you live in a very humid climate.  

It will not be feasible or even practical to search for and individually find booklice and kill them. They are far too small and the booklice nymphs are even smaller and will likely not be noticed, the same for the eggs. 

If you do have a booklice problem then consulting with insect pest experts is a good decision to make. They can use hot steam and pesticides to kill booklice.  

Even though booklice are not major pests, you should still take an infestation seriously because they are a nuisance that can damage your books and infest your food.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, they are harmless to humans and pets. They don’t bite, spread disease, or damage your home. If you’ve noticed bites or stains on the bed, you might have a bed bug infestation.

Although not harmful to humans, booklice can sometimes be causing allergies. Removing the infestation can help to reduce the symptoms and feel better.

Booklice are attracted to areas with high humidity. They feed on starchy substances and also mould and mildew.

Hot steam and pesticides are effective solutions to kill booklice. To get rid of booklice, you will also need to decrease the humidity in the home.