BOOKLICE BIOLOGY ^
Booklice are small insects which love moisture. In general, they need to live where humidity is high or moisture is present. Common places for booklice 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 booklice are able to change their dietary needs as food availability changes. One thing is for sure: if you have booklice 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 BOOKLICE ^
Booklice 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.
Booklice 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 BOOKLICE EAT ^
Booklice 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 booklice 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 booklice populations will begin to accrue.
BOOKLICE ON THE HOME ^
Most all booklice problems start from the homes siding. Booklice 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.
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 booklice will follow and once established on the structure, its just a matter of time before they end up inside.
TREATING A BOOKLICE INFESTATION ^
The good news about booklice is that they are slow eaters. This means damage from local populations is usually minor unless populations go unchecked for long periods of time. However, booklice are both annoying and persistent so most people don’t want them around. Fortunately, they are easy to kill and with the right products being used its relatively easy to manage or eliminate activity in and on the home.
So before you treat, there may be some maintenance needed in areas where activity is noted.
WHAT TO USE INSIDE THE HOME FOR BOOKLICE ^
Since booklice 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 to use where activity is found.
SPOT TREAT WITH ALPINE ^
If you have booklice appearing in random areas, ALPINE AEROSOL is an easy way to kill their nests without having to know where they’re actually nesting. It doesn’t kill them quickly but this is very much by design. Basically as they forage over treated surfaces, they’ll be picking up small amounts of the Alpine which is then brought back to their nests where its effectively “shared” with other booklice. This in turn will cause the whole nest to die in 2-3 days.
Spot treat around windows, doors, baseboards and walls where you see them active. Its easy. Just lightly mist over the surfaces where you see them. It doesn’t take much; maybe a 1 second spray for a 5 foot run of baseboard. It also comes with a crack and crevice injecting straw so you can direct the treatment into tight areas where they like to hide.
When used properly, you should not be be seeing a “wet” look where you spray so there is no need to over apply. Just a light mist will get the job done. And remember, it won’t faze them meaning they won’t die or even move away as you spray. But once they go back to their nest, others will get some of the chemical on them too and die off in a few days so you can effectively kill all inside activity within a week.
HOW TO TREAT BOOKSHELVES, BOXES AND STORAGE ROOMS WITH BOOKLICE ^
For small areas 100 sq/ft or less filled with paper products that are difficult to spray, installing AEROSOL MACHINES with CLEAR ZONE metered insecticide will make treatments automated so you don’t have to worry about constantly treating. These machines are well suited for small paper closets, rooms with boxes or bookcases filled with books. The aerosol refill will be releasing small 1/2 second “blasts” of a pyrethrin based aerosol strong enough to kill booklice.
The key to the success of this treatment is that the aerosol released will be in ULV form. That means the aerosol will be comprised of very tiny microns of active ingredient. These tiny microns will penetrate cracks and gaps where booklice like to hide so they won’t be able to avoid the spray. The same impact can be achieved using the PT-565 listed above but with the machine, the treatment will be automated so you don’t ever miss. This will insure long term control.
Each machine is set to go off every 15 minutes and is powered by 2 “D” cell batteries. Set one machine above the area you want to keep booklice free so either mount it on the top shelf of a wall unit or on the wall above the books or boxes.
You’ll also need some CLEAR ZONE refills. These cans will last 30-40 days, release an odorless pyrethrin safe for use in any area of the home and can be set up discreetly yet still be effective. Just be sure to replace the refill when empty.
BEST BOOKLICE SPRAY ^
If you have large areas to treat like the exterior siding of the home, trees, shrubs, etc, the use of an aerosol is not practical or efficient. For these areas you’ll need a liquid residual and one that works well is MAXXTHOR EC. It mixes with water and by nature is “invasive” meaning it will penetrate the siding on the home or the bark on a tree really well. This means 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 booklice 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’ll need a good PUMP SPRAYER to apply the Maxxthor.
Ultimately, our HOSE END SPRAYER is the best way to get the job done as it applies lots of water and great coverage.
SET OUT BOOKLICE 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 PT-Cykick CS. If you have booklice 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 BOOKLICE 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 4.5″ wide by 4.5″ long and less than 1/2″ tall so they’re quite flat.
Each trap features a unique food lure booklice love and will forage several feet to get inside. The design of the trap is unique so be sure you set it up correctly. Basically the bottom of the trap will be the side with the 8 holes and “grooves”. The grooves should be facing the ground and will effectively “funnel” the booklice to the holes. 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 and bait lure will remain active for 3-6 months but replace them sooner if they get filled with insects. The attractant lure will take a good month to start releasing enough scent to get the attention of foraging pests so do not expect to see results for 1-2 months. 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.
Booklice 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 booklice may be entering for long term protection.
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