Pest Control: Booklice

Psocoptera are an order of insects that are commonly known as booklice, they received their common name because they are commonly found amongst old books as they feed upon the paste used in binding.

Booklice are wingless and range from approximately 1mm to 2mm in length. They are easily mistaken for bedbug nymphs and vice-versa. Booklouse eggs take 2 to 4 weeks to hatch and can reach adulthood approximately 2 months later. Adult booklice can live for six months. Besides damaging books, they also sometimes infest food storage areas, where they feed on dry, starchy materials. They are scavengers and do not bite humans.


Since the treatment for booklice is largely by humidity control a pest controller may not be needed to carry out any treatment but accurate identification is vital to rule out other pests. You can always send a digital photograph to Manchester Pest Prevention for identification.

More About Booklice

Psocids are small, scavenging insects with a relatively generalized body plan. They feed primarily on fungi, algae, lichen, and organic detritus. They have chewing mandibles, and the central lobe of the maxilla is modified into a slender rod. This rod is used to brace the insect while it scrapes up detritus with its mandibles. They also have a swollen forehead, large compound eyes, and three ocelli. Some species can spin silk from glands in their mouth.

The forewings are up to 1.5 times as long as the hindwings, and all four wings have a relatively simple venation pattern, with few cross-veins. The legs are slender and adapted for walking, rather than gripping, as in the true lice. The abdomen has nine segments, and no cerci.

There is often considerable variation in the appearance of individuals within the same species. Many have no wings or ocelli, and may have a different shape to the thorax. Other, more subtle, variations are also known, such as changes to the development of the setae. The significance of such changes is uncertain, but their function appears to be different from similar variations in, for example, aphids. Like aphids, however, many psocids are parthenogenic, and the presence of males may even vary between different races of the same species.
Psocids lay their eggs in minute crevices or on foliage, although a few species are known to be viviparous. The young are born as miniature, wingless versions of the adult. These nymphs typically molt six times before reaching full adulthood. The total lifespan of a psocid is rarely more than a few months.

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