Barklice are small insects which love moisture. In general, they need to live where humidity is high or moisture is present. Common places for barklice populations to thrive include window sills, under outside siding of homes, tree trunks, shrubs, flowers, around garden hoses, under bricks and rocks, around light fixtures and under boxes. However, some species will readily live in books, book cases, attics and crawl spaces.
In fact there are many families and subspecies of this insect and the science community has not quite come to a concise conclusion about how to group and name all that are included. Some appear to have specific moisture requirements and others do not. At the same time some seem to be food specific and others do not. To make matters more confusing, it appears that barklice are able to change their dietary needs as food availability changes. One thing is for sure: if you have barklice active in or around your home – expect them to prosper and keep coming back every warm season. And in most cases they’ll end up invading living spaces which is when they’ll readily invade books, file cabinets and basically anywhere they find paper products.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF BARKLICE
Barklice hatch from eggs in about 2-4 weeks after eggs are laid. Young will go through 2-4 nymphal stages to reach adulthood which takes another 2-3 months. Once mature, females can generate 50-100 eggs during her life and as an adult she would expect to live 1-4 months. Most populations will produce 2-3 generations per year but there could be a lot more if conditions are right.
Barklice are able to adapt to their environment which will dictate just how fast they reproduce. In general, the more moisture and the more moderate the temperatures (50 -80 degrees) the more they will prosper. Cold weather (below 35 degrees) will kill off adults but eggs will live and be ready to hatch as soon as local temperatures get back to where they are comfortable.
WHAT DO BARKLICE EAT
Barklice will eat just about anything. Though most people think they eat books or paper, in fact they can thrive on a wide range of food. Typical food in the home include cellulose products (paper or books), book bindings, fabric (from which many book bindings are constructed), glue (the glue that binds most books has many natural components), contact paper, wall paper, any type of grain, mold, mildew, algae, fungus and other plant life.
The fact that barklice will readily live in books is the same reason they will readily live on trees: the presence of both cellulose (paper is made from wood) and fungus or algae. Algae or fungus will readily grow in damp dark places inside homes but it also thrives outside. It is here where local barklice populations will begin to accrue.
BARKLICE ON THE HOME
Most all barklice problems start from the homes siding. Barklice which forage onto homes and establish themselves on brick, stucco, hardy board, cedar shakes or underneath coverings such as vinyl or aluminum will eventually end up inside. They’ll enter via windows, doors, attics, wall voids and where pipes come through the wall.
In some areas of the country, barklice thrive in sewer lines, drain lines and septic systems. These regions are prone to having barklice enter via their sinks and showers!
From outside the home they will commonly find window sills to be great for food as well as outside light fixtures, outlets, door frames, etc. The author has seen them thrive on just about any perimeter location of most any structure which gets wet during rain or irrigation. Such areas have a tendency to harbor moisture and this harboring is what enables fungus and algae to grow. Once this growth starts barklice will follow and once established on the structure, its just a matter of time before they end up inside.
WHAT TO USE INSIDE THE HOME FOR BARKLICE
Since barklice will be effectively hiding out of sight once they get inside the home, it can be hard to isolate all areas where they’re nesting. For this reason aerosol products are a good formulation when activity is up above baseboards. So around windows, door frames and countertops, a thorough crack and crevice treatment will usually knock them out.
SPOT TREAT EVERY CRACK WITH FS MP AEROSOL
Where active, be sure to treat within a few feet with FS MP AEROSOL. This product is quick acting and penetrating so it will reach all voids and spaces barklice will use to nest.
Spot treat around windows, doors, baseboards, inside cabinets, under sinks and basically within 3 feet of any spot where you see them active. FS MP will last at least two weeks but we recommend retreating any day if you see new ones active – even in spots you may have treated the day before. The reason is simple: if you see them a day or two following a treatment its because you missed them the first time you were there and where they are now active it means there is a nest within a few feet of that spot.
When used properly, you should not be be seeing a “wet” look where you spray so there is no need to over apply.
HOW TO TREAT BOOKSHELVES, BOXES AND STORAGE ROOMS WITH BARKLICE
For small areas 100 sq/ft or less filled with paper products that are difficult to spray, misting with MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER will provide a quick kill and penetrate these areas without damaging paper or fine materials.
The key to the success of this treatment is that the aerosol coming from the can will be in ULV form. That means the particle size will be comprised of very tiny microns of active ingredient and able to penetrate most any area they might be hiding.
To treat, spray a few feet “over” the target area covering 2 sq/ft per 1 second. When done properly, a fine mist will fall down onto the books, shelves, etc.
Opening and inspecting some books is suggested so any badly infested books can be treated more intensely.
Each can will release about 5 minutes of spray and can cover up to 800 sq/ft effectively.
BEST LIQUID BARKLICE SPRAY FOR BASEBOARDS, CARPETS AND FURNITURE
If you’re seeing barklice all over the house – especially around baseboards, carpeting and furniture, treat with BITHOR. This odorless concentrate combines two actives which work together and provide a fast kill and long lasting residual. The one active will kill barklice within an hour and the second active is non repelling so once the first active is gone in a day or two, the second active will keep protecting the area for a month or more.
That being said, we advise you spray every two weeks inside if they’re coming back. In most cases, re-infestation inside is a sure sign they’re coming from outside and you’ll need to spray the outside areas as detailed below. But if the problem is limited to the inside, the FS MP and Bithor combo will control it within a few weeks with the Multipurpose on anything sensitive as needed.
Add 1 oz of Bithor per gallon of water and expect to get about 1,000 sq/ft of coverage per gallon of mixed material.
Use a good PUMP SPRAYER to apply Bithor.
HOW TO TREAT BARKLICE COMING FROM A DRAIN OR IN A SHOWER
Barklice can travel up drain lines and commonly infest them when active in bathrooms or kitchens. Sinkerators will accumulate much needed organic matter they need to thrive and sustain themselves so once they find a good drain or overflow space to fill, they’ll move in and start populating.
To treat these areas requires a special one of a kind product that’s labeled for use down drains. LEMON AIR PLUS is the only registered product safe enough to be used in this sensitive area yet strong enough to kill insects like barklice, springtails, ants, crickets and more.
Mix 2-4 oz per gallon of water and plan on pouring 1/2 gallon down the drain every evening before you retire. Let the product sit in the drain for at least 6 hours to get you the best results.
Lemon Air smells like lemons, as the name implies, but it’s not a masking agent. Lemon Air will be breaking down organic matter as well as killing any insects in the treatment and it purges drain lines from built up organic matter.
Use at least once a week down drains as needed; more frequently if they’re coming back within 7 days. Remember barklice like living in grout and countertop carcks so sponging these areas down with the mixture is highly suggested and safe to do since it breaks down in 15-20 minutes.
BEST OUTSIDE SPRAY FOR BARKLICE
If you’re seeing activity outside like on the exterior siding of the home, trees, shrubs, etc, the use of FS MP or Bithor will not be as good compared to MAXXTHOR EC. It too mixes with water and by nature is very “invasive” meaning it will penetrate the siding on the home or the bark on a tree really well. This means there will be no place for lice to hide .
Maxxthor will provide a quick knockdown and a long lasting residual which will prevent hatching eggs from thriving. Maxxthor can be applied over the homes exterior siding, around windows, on trees and plants and just about anywhere barklice have been found.
Add 1 oz per gallon of water and apply the mixture over no more than 1,000 sq/ft of surface area. Retreat every 30 days when used outside.
You can use a standard pump sprayer like the one above to apply Maxxthor but in general, the more water you use, the better results you’ll get. Plus, you should expect to apply 3-4 gallons of mixed Maxxthor outside so using a pump sprayer will take a lot of time compared to our HOSE END SPRAYER.
For book like, add 2.5 oz of Maxxthor to the sprayer and then fill it with water to the 5 gallon line. Hook it to your garden hose and apply the entire amount over 5,000 sq/ft. Do this every two weeks outside until you don’t see any activity. Once they’re gone, plan on treating once every 2-3 months to make sure they don’t come back.
SET OUT BARKLICE TRAPS
Once you decide on which product to use remember to stay with it and make applications throughout the season as needed. Generally speaking, infestations which are located outside will be active in the warm months and go dormant if you have a winter.
For the southern most states, it is not uncommon to have activity year round. Most of these outside applications should be done with Maxxthor EC. If you have barklice in the home or building and have decided to use one of the Aerosols, expect to do several treatments since these applications will not last as long compared to the liquid.
To help monitor the problem and cut down on their activity, install BARKLICE TRAPS on all bookshelves, countertops and window sills with activity. Its also smart to set these out where you suspect they might be nesting. This could be around a shower tub, toilet bowl, inside plant pots, area rugs or under furniture cushions. They measure 4.25″ wide by 3.25″ long and less than 1/2″ tall so they’re quite flat.
Each trap features a unique glue which maintains a high level of moisture. This moisture content will attract certain insects like barklice, springtails and more. Once they enter, they’ll get stuck on the non-drying glue inside.
Traps should be spaced every 20 feet; at least two traps per room. The glue will remain active for 3-6 months but replace them every 3 months when dealing with an active problem or sooner if they get filled. And remember they’re designed to keep you informed on where problems might be you have not noticed before so use them in random areas where there “might” be a problem not yet identified. For areas where they’re being seen, treat for fast results.
Barklice can be a persistent and annoying pest in and around the home. Though they don’t bite, their chewing mouth parts can cause a lot of damage to fabric, books, wallpaper and other inanimate objects around the home which are valuable. Reduce moisture levels to deter nesting and seal cracks and crevices where barklice may be entering for long term protection.
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