Booklice are soft bodied insects, antennae are long and threadlike, they have compound eyes and biting mouthparts. The tarsi are two to three segmented each of which bears two claws. Adults are around 1mm long light brown in colour flattened abdomen and flat hind femur
Most species of booklice are found in places such as animal nests, under bark, tree trucks and other similar natural habitats. However, the species that have come to be known as pests often infest food manufacturing places, warehouses, museums, granaries, and domestic and retail premises. They will infest materials of animal and plant origin such as books, woodwork, leather, plaster and food. It is unknown where the booklice originate from as they are vastly dispersed across the globe. The different species of booklice require different climates.
It is rare for booklice to case damage by feeding, and in small numbers they are relitavly harmless. However, in larger infestations significant damage can be caused to delicate materials such as fur and books. Signs that dried meat has been infested includes holes and tunnels the insects use to hide, and a covering of salt crystals and a white powdery material. The biggest problem these insects cause is contamination of processed and raw foods. Contaminated products must be destroyed. Products such as grain and eggs may lose value. Here are a few of the many thing’s booklice like to infest: Bat guano, chocolate, bagged nuts, fish meal, milk powder, oil seeds, salami, skin scales, processed cereals, pollen, stored cereal grains, springbok biltong, yeast, sugar beet seeds, yeast, museum specimens, damp plaster and books. Although booklice are harmless to humans, they are often confused with true lice which causes people alarm.
The most effective control measure for booklice is to ensure that the premises is well aired and dry to reduces the chances of mould developing and denying the insects of their food source. Any commodities should be sacked above floor level and away from walls and the celling to allow proper ventilation, cleaning, inspection and if necessary insecticidal treatment. Any badly infested products should be destroyed. Insecticidal control can be used, the booklice are susceptible to most insecticides however, it is important to make sure there is contact between the pest and the toxicant in order to successfully control them.