Book Lice

BOOK LICE

Booklice, also called psocids, are not true lice. While they resemble lice in size and shape, booklice feed only on fungi or mold. If you find them in grain or other stored food products, it is an indication of high humidity which encourages mold growth. In addition to food products, booklice may be found under wallpaper, in furniture, along the sides of windows or on window sills around potted plants. Booklice do not bite, transmit disease, or damage food or fabric, but they can be very annoying when present in large numbers.

Booklice found inside homes are wingless and very tiny: less than 1/16 of an inch long. While their back legs are thicker than the other four, and resemble jumping legs, booklice do not jump, but run rather quickly.

Adult booklice range in color from translucent white to gray or brown. Females can produce about 60 eggs during the warm summer months and their life cycle (from egg to adult) can be completed in less than one month. Females deposit their eggs singly and often conceal them by covering with debris. Booklice undergo simple metamorphosis, that is their nymphs look just like adults except that they are much smaller and sexually immature. The common house-infesting booklice normally have four nymphal stages.

Booklice feed on molds and will overrun cereals and similar materials that support mold growth. Their presence, therefore, is a nuisance and can render some foods unfit. The starchy paste of wallpaper and books also can support mold growth or may be attacked directly by booklice. The name, booklice, comes from some species association with books, especially in the days before air conditioning, when natural humidity in homes and libraries allowed more frequent growth of mildew on book bindings and pages.

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