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How to Get Rid of Book Lice

Book lice are small, soft bodied insects, which are commonly found in houses. They have a chewing mouthpart and antennae on them. Book lice resemble head lice in shape, however, they are of a lighter shade of gray. They have wings on their bodies, but these wings are too small to let them fly. 

Book lice grow up to 1/25 inch and they are not known to cause any harm to humans. They mostly feed on mildew and mold in humid places and not on plants or wood so they cannot perceived as termites. As the name suggests, they are commonly found in the bindings of old books where they eat the starch present in binding and the edges of pages.

This tiny insect is drawn in by humid conditions where the environment is moist and closed off. Most of the times, you can find these insects in new homes.

New houses are mostly confined for a long time, with no air and light getting in, making it a perfect environment for book lice to survive. Moreover, your basement, attic, and storage rooms also provide them with a similar environment, which is why you may find book lice creeping out of your old stored belongings there.

Characteristics of book lice

  • They lay eggs, which hatch in 21 days.

  • Their life cycle is of total 110 days where they become an adult from an egg.

  • Adult book lice can lay up to 50 eggs.

  • Found in books and paper products, tree barks, and tree holes.

  • They are sometimes found on decaying plants or planks, which have mould growing on them.

Even when these insects are not directly harmful to plants or harmful in any way to humans, they are still not a pleasant sight to see nor would you want your precious books to slowly rot away because of them.

Here are some effective ways that can help you get rid of book lice in your house.

  1. Throw away infested items

The first thing you should do to get rid of book lice is to get rid of all those items which you  know are infested by them because even if you dust the lice away there still might be their eggs attached and that will not solve the problem.

Remove all the old boxes from store rooms and the basement, throw away old shoes, old books, and stack of papers which you may have been collecting over time.

Old food stuffed in cereal boxes and jars of grains, flour, and other edible items tend to get humid after time with air accumulating in them and creating a favorable environment for insects to live there. Clean out such boxes and jars and wash them thoroughly before using them again.

That said, there are many items which you would not want to throw away but they are infested by book lice unfortunately. In such cases, put that item in a plastic bag, seal it up and keep it in the freezer for two to three days, then remove the item from the bag and vacuum it to get rid of dead lice.  

  1. Dehumidify the house

Since book lice survive in humid places, reducing the moisture in the room of your home should kill the book lice. They normally die after 5 hours of not receiving any moisture. You would have to get a dehumidifier in your house especially for areas such as the attic, basement, and bathrooms, which are mostly damp.

If you have an old library in your house, a dehumidifier would be needed there as well. Turn them on and let them remove the moisture from the rooms. Use a hygrometer to check humidity in the room, as you would need to get humidity down to 50% to kill book lice and once the dehumidifier becomes full, empty out its reservoir.

  1. Proper ventilation in the house

 Another way to get rid of book lice is to improve the ventilation in your house. This will let there be fresh air in the rooms and prevent mould build up. Open up windows in your house every morning so that sunlight and fresh air can get in. Cold wind at nighttime would also help you keep the house free from humidity if any was built up throughout the day.

As for bathrooms, after use let the door remain open for a while so the moisture inside can dry up and the place is aired out. If you do not want to keep the door open, then get an exhaust fan installed in there and switch them on after use.

  1. Placing books and cardboard boxes in alleviated places

Always store paper items, books, and cardboard boxes in a dry environment where they cannot grow mould on them. Do not put cardboard boxes stacked on the ground, as humidity is greater on ground levels. Build a platform above the ground to store your boxes. It is better to get airtight plastic storing boxes instead of using cardboard ones.

As for books, do not keep your books stacked on the floor or stacked anywhere where they do not get enough light and fresh air. Build a shelf in your room and place the books in them, so they can get air all the time.

  1. Fix sources of leaking water

Standing water can seep in to walls and tiles and lead to mould. If you have any leaking water source in your basement, be sure to fix it before the water gets in the walls.

Solutions has the Solution for Book Lice

Pesticides are normally not necessary to deal with a booklice problem. However, if booklice in your home is becoming a regular problem that staying clean isn’t fixing, then that’s when it’d be necessary to break out some professional grade pesticides.

Whenever you see an outbreak of booklice, spray them with PT 565 Plus XLO Aerosol Insecticide. The product provides a quick is easy to use and produces no strong off-putting odor. For longer lasting residual we recommend you use Cy-Kick Aerosol InsecticideApply the product to cracks and crevices where you have noticed booklice and also treat bookshelves and boxes.

Using a dust containing Diatomaceous Earth like Alpine Dust Insecticide is also a good natural product to eliminate this problem pest.


Book lice love to damage paper materials and books. If you want to sit down to a good book again without having to worry about these bugs giving you company, use the steps and suggestions we provided above and you won’t have to worry about them any longer. If you have any questions or need any type of DIY help with pest control issues you may be having, give us a call (800-479-6583) or message us via live chat or email (askapro@solutionsstores.com).


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