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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.