What Homeowners Need to Know to Keep Booklice Infestation at Bay

Image from Wipeout pest control

Why is a booklice infestation a problem?

Psocids (also commonly known as booklice) home infestation is a fairly common issue faced by Singaporean homeowners. They usually appear during the wet season, when weeks of heavy bouts of rain has made the indoor humidity hit beyond 50%. Once this happens, the tiny critters will invade the walls and ceiling as soon as the fungi and mould flourished on these surfaces. Nevertheless, other situations such as water seepage or condensation caused by frequent use of air conditioners might make the ceiling and walls damp too. As what an unfortunate family has shared with AsiaOne, once they leave these minuscule mites unchecked, they breed rapidly and manifest into a long term problem. When this happened, they have to get rid of the bugs almost every night otherwise they will experience an itch every night before sleeping. Aside from the physical discomfort, the booklice are also well known to be slow eaters that contaminate stored food and damage books, wallpaper, plaster and other household items.

Image from Aardwolfpestkare showing heavy booklice infestation

Do you know?

Contrary to its name, booklice are not caused by books. Booklice infestation is a sign that there is high humidity and moisture in the room, which encourages the mold and mildew to mushroom across the walls and ceiling. As these are microscopic food for these pests, they will rapidly multiply when the underlying mold or moisture problem has not been addressed. They can also be found near food, books or painting that has high humidity content. Their life cycle (from egg to an adult) is less than 1 month. Booklice is not harmful to our health and does not bite or transmit any disease. Although these pests are harmless, they are very annoying to live with and can cause itching when they crawl on the human skin.

How do booklice look like?

After reading this, you might be wondering how to identify these nasty bugs before they start to invade your home! These pests are very easy to spot; from afar, they look like minuscule “dark or yellow sesame seeds” and will scramble frantically across the walls and ceiling.  As these pests are so tiny, they are only visible under a 30 times magnifying loupe.

A booklice is yellow, cream or brown in colour, wingless and its body is around 1 to 2mm long. Under the loupe, the abdomen of a booklice appears larger than the head and huge, compound eyes protrude from its sides. On top of the head, 2 long antennae sweep about while it moves. Although some booklice do the hop, it usually scurries about in a haphazard fashion, and is very hard to catch. In addition, even though a booklice does not have superior eyesight,  it is able to detect bright lights and scurries away quickly. What this means is that they will dash away and hide in a dark corner when you turn the lights on.

Caption: Here is how a young adult booklice looks like under my 30x magnification loupe.

Tip: Use the handy Ikea sticky roller and gently tap on these pests to catch them. This is the fastest, easiest and most foolproof way to catch them quickly, without squashing them flat and dirty the white walls.


How do you know whether you have a booklice infestation?

Your dwelling is at risk of booklice infestation if it is not well ventilated or you stay near large bodies of water, such as a reservoir or near the sea.  The symptoms to look out for include having minuscule black dots crawling around the walls, cupboards, books and upholstered furniture or discovering tiny patches of eggs either clustered together or laid either singly in dark corners. Or if you stumble across patches of mould or fungi growing on walls, it is likely that a booklice infestation is taking root since mould and fungi are sources of food.


8 ways to get rid of the booklice infestation

#1. Vacuum the walls and ceiling with a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner

Remove booklice, fungi and mould from the walls and ceiling by vacuuming. A HEPA vacuum cleaner helps to ensure that the fungi and mould spores remain trapped inside the vacuum cleaner. If the vacuum cleaner does not have a HEPA filter, the spores will be blown out of the exhaust. Remember to wear a mask while you are vacuuming since the mould might cause allergies.

Image from Molekule.science

#2. Remove the food source

The best way is to eradicate the booklice is to eliminate its food source and therefore, you should remove the mould and mildew from walls and ceiling with warm water and soap, vinegar or baking soda. Ensure that you perform the wipe down in hot and dry weather, so that the ceiling and walls will be dried fast and properly. If the food source came from old books and paintings, perhaps it is time to throw them away!

#3. Invest in a strong dehumidifier

Image from Decenthomedecor

Since mould and mildew thrive in humid conditions, drying out the rooms will stop them from proliferating. In addition, the Psocids are sensitive to changes in humidity and therefore, when the humidity level is low and their food source is removed, the booklice will be wiped out. Allow the dehumidifier to run at least a day in the room to lower humidity levels to less than 50%. A portable dehumidifier is the best choice since it is more mobile and can be easily moved to a place where there is an excessive amount of moisture.

#4. Ensure proper ventilation at all times

Image from: novita

Keep the room properly ventilated at all times by keeping the doors and windows open, ventilation fans running and let plenty of sunlight stream into your dwelling. This allows moisture to escape and reduce the chances of fungi and mould thriving indoors.

#5. Sundry your household items regularly

Image from Dreamstime

If the indoor moisture is caused by damp household items (such as floor rugs, bath towels), leave them out to dry in the sun as regularly as possible.

#6. Coat the surfaces with an anti-mould solution

Coat the walls and ceiling with a mould remover solution, such as the Magic Clean Mold & Stain Remover, which works to terminate and prevent the mould and mildew from reappearing.

#7. Use anti-mould wall and ceiling paint

Image from Ginhuat.sg

Aside from the regular use of a mould remover solution, using the anti-mould paint for your walls and ceiling helps to further prevent mould and mildew from resurfacing.

#8. Engage a local pest control specialist

Image from Best Pest Control Specialist

If the booklice infestation has gotten out of hand and has taken root, the best way to terminate them is to engage a trained and experienced professional pest controller for a faster and more effective eradication. In Singapore, since booklice infestation is a very common issue faced by homeowners due to our hot and humid climate, there are many local professional pest controllers who have in-depth experience in dealing with booklice infestation.


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