What are booklice?
Booklice is a type of a delicate and small insect also known by the name psocids, barkflies and barklice. They thrive in old books in museums and stores- this is where they derived the name booklice. They are known to feed on starchy substance like pastes used to bind books, dead animal matter and plants as well as fungi, molds, lichen and algae.
Although they appear to resemble true lice in shape and size, this type of insects is not harmful to trees, human and pest since they only feed on dead matter- this are found in most places.
The Latin Psocoptera is a combination of ‘Psoco’ for ‘small rub’ and ‘Ptera’ for ‘winged’, implying the abrasion kind of damage they cause as they feed and also some of them have wings.
Discovered between 295 and 248 million ago during the Permian period, Psocoptera can be found all over the world and are diverse in tropical regions.
Classification of booklice
Booklice are classified under Psocoptera order, which is further divided into three suborders each with several families. Over 5,500 species in 41 families have been found in the 3 suborders that exists today, most of these species were only identified in recent years. These suborders include:
- Trogiomorpha- This suborder has antennae and several segments and also three legged segmented tarsi. Seven families and approximately 340 species have been found under this suborder. It is also the smallest suborder under the Psocoptera order.
- Troctomorpha- This suborder has antennae and about 15 to 17 segments as well as a two segmented tarsi. It is the second largest disorder under this order after Psocomorpha.
- Psocomorpha- This suborder is notable for antennae with 13 segments as well as two-three legged tarsi. It is also the largest suborder of Psocoptera with 24 families and 3,600 species.
In a booklice picture, you will probably see a tiny light brown or gray or yellowish insect about a sixteenth an inch in size with a broad hind leg. Typically, this insects have segmented body, but they usually have 2-3 legged tarsi depending on the type of suborder and family (see the pictures).
Facts about booklice & Characteristics
Booklice as they are commonly known have the resemblance of a true louse in shape and size. However, unlike lice, they do not bite or feed on live animals and plants, but they rather feed on molds and fungi or algae. The indoor species have no wings and eyes are poorly developed- they compound and protruding eyes.
They are recognized by their cream, light brown or gray color and are commonly found in damp places especially papers and grains. They usually feed on traces of mold found in the glue used in binding books and also paste found under damp wallpapers.
They have a life cycle of one month from eggs to mature adults- have four- six stages in life. Indoors species are also found in newly build houses because of their high humidity level.
However, most species live outdoors where they feed on algae, fungi and pollen, and unlike indoors species, they are winged. A female Psocoptera can lay as many as 200 eggs in her lifetime if properly feed. The following are key facts and characteristics of booklice:
- Small insects– They are small in size- about 1/16 an inch, but some species are as large as 10 mm. Indoors species are wingless while outside species have wings.
- Booklice don’t Jump– Despite having a broad hind legs typical of a jumping insect, booklice do not jump, but rather runs so quickly.
- Do not feed on live plants and animals- Unlike true lice, Psocoptera feeds on mold, fungi, algae and pollen
- Over 5,500 species around the globe- There are 41 families in the 3 suborders of Psocoptera.
- They are harmless- Other than destroying books in museums as they feed on mold from book binding glue, there is no other notable damages associated with booklice.
How to treat booklice bites
Even though booklice resembles true lice, in real sense they are not lice and do not bite humans or pets. They are only known to damage books in library and museum as feed they on glues used for binding books. Unlike true lice, these tiny species does not cause or transmit diseases. However, if they come in large numbers to your house, they can be a nuisance. At this point, it becomes necessary to eliminate them using various conventional insecticides in the market.
Booklice Bites Pictures
You will probably find booklice bites on papers and mold they feed on. Booklice bites pictures show some holes and pores on papers in the binding areas (See pictures).
Booklice eggs (pictures)
The picture of booklouse eggs is relatively larger in size- about a third the size of the laying insect. As shown in the picture, the eggs are oval in shape and can be seen singly or cluster. They also stick firmly onto the surface where they are laid. You could also notice some concealed eggs as female insect tends to cover their eggs with soils. You should also expect fewer eggs during cold season and many eggs in summer season.
Booklice in Bed
As stated earlier, booklice thrive in damp places because they are attracted to moisture- they are found in bathrooms, basements, and kitchen and newly build homes. As the moisture fades away, these insect dies. In regard to booklice in bed, it is possible to find some in bed frames especially if the frame is damp.
This is because they thrive well in damp and warm places that facilitate the growth of mold on which they feed on. There are also other similar insects than live on bed- bed bugs from where they can easily crawl to feed on human blood at night. Booklice are often confused for bedbugs and vice versa- they look similar in appearance.
Booklice are tiny scavenging insects with chewing mandibles and a slender central lobe for bracing the insect as it scrapes up food with its mandible. The size of an adult booklice ranges from as tiny as 1-10 millimeters in length depending on their species.
Most indoor species have no wings and are often confused for bedbug nymphs. Even though both are light colored, the body of booklice nymphs is elongated, and do not have pronounced head. On the contrary, the body of bed bug nymphs is less elongated and do not appear as having the neck like booklice nymphs.
Booklice sprays are common booklice control and treatments in homes as well as living areas. A variety of booklice sprays can penetrate tiny gaps and cracks where these insects hide. Protect spray natural insect killer is a common brand used to get rid of booklice from your home and living areas.
It also has residual properties that kill the insects up to four weeks after initial spraying. This spray can be found at Amazon online stores, supermarkets and drugstores around the world. It is also important to note that all insecticides are poisonous and caution should be taken during spraying.
Sources and References on booklice bites