Get Rid of Booklice
Summary: This visitor to Ask the Exterminator spells out all the steps she took to get rid of booklice in her home.
This is what I did to get rid of these little guys. Obviously, this might not work for everyone, depending on size of area, species, etc.
I think the key to getting rid of book lice for me was attacking them on multiple fronts. First, I removed any possible food sources from my apartment. This meant any paper, books, cardboard or food items that were not properly sealed were either thrown away or wrapped in plastic bags and put in the freezer for at least a month. I know a month seems like a long time, but after a week I took a cookbook out and opened it and there was one of them cruising across the page totally unfazed by the cold. So, I found that a month in the freezer is pretty sufficient to kill both the adults and the eggs.
All my food went into plastic food storage containers after very careful inspection to make sure it was not already infested. I think I spent a small fortune on these containers, so Ziploc bags are a good alternative. Next, any fabrics such as sheets, clothes, rugs, etc., I removed and washed twice in hot water with a lot of soap. This was really gross because the lint trap was full of little bugs, but it did seem to kill them.
My stuff stayed in closed garbage bags until I could get the rest of the problem under control so they didn't re-infest the fabrics. Then, I ended up using about 3 bottles of Windex to go around and do a lot of killing. There were a lot of booklice on my walls which I discovered they like to eat. They were also around electrical fixtures, so I spent a long time just spraying the heck out of the little guys and wiping them up with paper towels, which were also stored in Ziploc bags. They really seemed to like paper towels.
I had one really bad light fixture in the ceiling that they kept coming out of, so I took a Nuvane Pro Strip and covered the fixture in a plastic bag. Then I duct taped the bag closed. Make sure there are no gaps because this stuff is really toxic. I left that on for a week or so and that seemed to do the job.
I ended up breaking down and getting some 565 Plus XLO aerosol insecticide that I used on the baseboards of the walls.
For the kitchen I used a pyrethrin-based product since it seemed slightly less dangerous to have around food, and then Demand CS, a product that contains the chemical lambda-Cyhalothrin and another producted called Bedlam which includes lice on its label, for the rest of my apartment. This stuff does become inert pretty quick, so I sprayed it on the cracks along the baseboards several times a day for about a week. I really felt uncomfortable about using pesticides in my home, but since I used it in very small, specific areas, I think it minimized any chance for contamination. I put tape down on the floor to remind myself the pesticides were there so I didn't accidentally touch the walls or step in the area.
On top of all of this, I purchased a very expensive dehumidifier and left it running for about a week straight. Booklice really like moisture, so I just got every little bit of moisture I could out of my apartment. I had to empty the dehumidifier several times a day, which just showed me how much water was really in the air.
I saw a dramatic decrease in the bugs after I removed food sources and cleaned everything, and with the pesticides and dehumidifier it seemed to eliminate the last few, hardy stragglers. It did take a couple of weeks to stop seeing them crawling on the walls. You will notice that the booklice start getting bigger and darker. These are the adults. I think it's a good sign because if you were seeing the smaller, lighter nymphs it means they are still breeding somewhere.
I realize this was a lot of stuff to do, but it worked really well for me. They are super annoying, but totally harmless to humans. Really, the most damage they do is by making you go insane. Hope this helps. Good luck!
22 Mar 2010, 23:01
22 Mar 2010, 23:10
23 Mar 2010, 13:18
They are all gone. I haven't seen one in months. I live in an apartment so one dehumidifier is enough. I'm not sure about a bigger space. Remember that even after removing all the food sources it will take a couple weeks to stop seeing them...I think the adults can live for quite a while. Again, I know they're really annoying and being a neat freak myself I thought I might go off the deep end, but just remind yourself that they're totally harmless (if they are booklice, that is). Best of luck!
09 Jun 2010, 17:32
04 Aug 2010, 07:41
04 Aug 2010, 15:40
23 Sep 2010, 21:15
How easily do they spread? Should I worry about spreading it w/my vacuum?
23 Sep 2010, 22:09
You don't have to worry about spreading them with your vacuum.
24 Sep 2010, 10:45
@Ask the Exterminator, so your saying we can NEVER completely get rid of them?
24 Sep 2010, 11:07
I'm not saying you cannot get rid of them, but it's difficult if you cannot control the humidity.
30 Jul 2011, 23:35
14 Aug 2012, 18:27
15 Aug 2013, 22:37
Then about 6 months later found them on top of the radiator, window sill, and on the pots & pans again. Not as many--probably only 300 or so. Repeated above procedure, except I went straight to Windex and skipped the bleach entirely since it didn't seem to help. Rebaked pans, refroze food nearby, etc. It's been 3 weeks and I've only seen 1 adult (brownish in color), and I've reapplied Windex to the hard-to-reach areas behind the radiator--but I'm not sure if that's enough. If they come back again, I'm going to need more help. The house stays around 50% humidity most of the year, so not sure what to do about that. For those new to it--there is hope. For experts, I'm going to need help behind a non-movable radiant heater (the old 1900's style which use a boiler in the basement). Any suggestions welcome. Thanks.