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Booklice (Various spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Booklice

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Booklice are white and tiny, but they are not a threat to people like the blood-sucking enemy of animals that are often associated with the word 'lice'.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Booklice are a type of chewing lice, not sucking lice, which means they are not at all interested in humans or other animals. This type of louse feeds on fungi and mold, which can exist in very old, musty libraries where they were often found. Booklice commonly live in large groups, which can be alarming, but aside from being a nuisance, they are not a threat to people, grains, fabric, or furniture unless those things are moldy. The body of a Book Louse may be white or pale brown, depending on the species, and it has a single dark spot by the tip of the abdomen where one would expect an anus. The antennae are straight, long and wispy, reaching out at 45 degree angles from the head. A double neck collar connects the head to the oblong abdomen.

Booklice also cause initial alarm because they look similar to other undesirable pests like bed bugs and young termites. Bed bugs are a much darker brown with dark stomachs, and have very short antennae. Young termites are slightly larger than Booklice, and have a round, spherical head, a single neck collar, and an elongated abdomen. Young termites also have two small, short 'tails' that stick out from the end of the abdomen. Booklice do not have these protrusions.

If seen outsides, Booklice are in their element. If found inside, take comfort knowing that they will not harm anyone or anything. Their presence is likely the most annoying thing about them.©InsectIdentification.org

Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.InsectIdentification.org. It is the product of hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, educators, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at InsectIdentification AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.

General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Harmless insect icon
Rounded insect body icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Psocoptera
        Family: Liposcelididae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Chewing Lice
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 1mm (0.03" to 0.03")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; brown
Descriptors: small; two necks; round body; straight antennae; brown anus; bed bug; termite; harmless

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 1mm (0.0in) and 1mm (0.0in)
Lo: 1mm
Md: 1mm
Hi: 1mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Booklice may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Booklice. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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