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Booklice Don’t Suck Blood!

By Chris Williams on July 15, 2016.

My wife found some strange bugs in our basement. They were identified as booklice. Do these things suck blood like other lice? We use the basement mostly for storage but I’m worried because our dog spends the night down there. Is that why the booklice are there in the first place? Is he infested? B. E., Hooksett, NH

Booklice Are Not Lice

Not to worry, booklice have much more to do with books than with lice (see Booklice Are Not Real Lice). I’m not really sure how they got that name, maybe because they are small and yellowish-white like lice. Booklice don’t feed on blood, they feed on mold growing on starchy materials so they can be found in damp books or cardboard boxes, or in stacks of papers stored in places with high humidity. Sometimes they feed on moldy foods such as cereal or flour or they can be temporary pests in new construction where materials are still damp. Their feeding is limited to the mold on the surface of objects and does no damage to the objects themselves.

I’m sure that your basement, like most everybody’s basement, is damp. Booklice like it dark and undisturbed, too. With all your stored household items, your basement provides an ideal environment for booklice and other moisture pests (see Here’s Why Pests Love Your Basement!).

They’re Not Immature Termites Either

Actually, booklice are more often confused with termites than with lice. They do look somewhat like miniature termite workers but they are much smaller at only 1/16-inch long (see Booklice Are Not Baby Termites!). They run along surfaces in a jerky manner.

Fortunately, booklice can usually be controlled by simply drying out the site. They are soft-bodied and can’t survive without the high humidity that also grows mold. Use fans or a dehumidifier to dry out your basement. If you can get humidity below 50%, the booklice should disappear. If you have a heavy infestation of booklice, an exterminator can treat the area to give immediate relief.

Photo Credit : By Tony Wills – Own workCamera ModelCanon EOS 20DShutter speed1/6sAperturef/0Film speed (ISO)100LensSwift M3200 microscope, 4D 0.10 objective lensNotesno lens, camera coupled directly to microscope barrel, CC BY-SA 3.0, | Wikipedia

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