Bugs That Eat Books And Paper

List Of Bugs That Eat Books And Paper

You know bugs that eat books and paper have infested your bookshelves. In this article you can find the list of that bugs which eat book and paper.

Why are there holes in your books and why the pages are dusty and yellow? Because bugs eat books.

From your home to your local library, you can find these book bugs. They damage not only books, but also a variety of paper products and cardboard.

In this guide, you’ll learn what these book and paper-damaging bugs are, where they come from, and how you can protect your books.

In addition, you’ll get an honest assessment of which bugs you can get rid of yourself and which bugs need a pest control specialist’s expertise, and why.

Why Do Books Attract Bugs?

Here are five reasons why books attract bugs:

  1. Paper contains cellulose and starch, which are food for these bugs
  2. Molds that develop in old books are eaten by bugs
  3. Moisture is excessive in your home and in the place where you keep books
  4. These bugs hide in cardboard boxes and piles of papers
  5. Most importantly, these bugs already existed in your home before they infested your books

Then how do you know your books are bug-free? Here are the signs of bugs that eat books and paper.

7 Signs You Have Bugs in Your Book

In addition to physical evidence of bugs in books and bookshelves at home and in libraries, there are seven signs that your books have been infested –

  1. Chew marks on the covers and bindings of books.
  2. Pages that are dusty
  3. There are holes in books
  4. The books will show a slight Stench
  5. Paper edges become serrated
  6. Pages turn a little yellow
  7. Insect carcasses and skins of dead insects

Let’s move on to the bugs that eat books now that you know the signs of bugs in books and why books attract bugs.

Booklice – Tiny Bugs In Books

The paper mites, also known as booklice, are psocids. Booklice are tiny white bugs that grow up to 0.5 mm in size. They do not eat the pages of books. Mold and fungi develop on the pages, book bindings, and book covers of old books, which they eat.

It can be difficult to see booklice with the naked eye. Termites resemble booklice when viewed under a microscope or magnifying glass.

There are many species of booklice that enter homes, but some of them have tiny wings.

However, booklice cannot fly. They can hop from one place to another like fleas.

Like the other bugs on the list, Booklice do not cause any major damage to your books. 

It is possible to overuse them, however, and then your books’ pages will be a bit fuzzy. They may also emit a bit of a stench. 

The booklice (booklouse in singular form) are not typically found in books. Instead, they reside in pantry cupboards.

The tiny white bugs infest dry and stored foods such as grains, cereals, flour, and, in some cases, vegetables as well.

Generally, these bugs are found in homes with high humidity, leaky pipes, and poor drainage. 

A leaking pipe or clogged drain can cause dampness in the home’s floors and walls. If you don’t fix them, the dampness will spread to your furniture and bookshelf as well.

How did it turn out? 

Mold develops on your books. The mold on your books attracts book lice.

A booklice multiplies quickly. In only ten days, an adult booklouse can be formed from an egg.

By failing to take action early, your booklice population will explode inside your home.

Booklice can also be found on objects like wallpaper and wooden photo frames, as well as furniture if their numbers increase. 

How can we prevent that from happening? Let’s find out.

How Do You Get Rid Of Booklice Bugs?

Three steps are necessary to get rid of booklice bugs in books –

  1. Freezing the books to kill the booklice bugs in books
  2. Vacuum clean the bookshelves and your home to eliminate booklice bugs
  3. Reducing dampness in your home to make your home less attractive to booklice bugs

Let’s talk about how to execute each of these steps.

Freezing The Books To Kill The Booklice Bugs

I know it sounds strange. However, the method works without damaging your books.

Here’s how you do it.

Booklice-infested books should be placed in an airtight plastic bag. Make sure the bag is sealed tightly.

You can then freeze the bag for one to three days. 

In the freezer, the cold temperature will kill the booklice. Booklice die when they are frozen. 

Make sure you seal the plastic bags properly before placing them in the freezer to avoid any damage to your books.

Vacuum Clean Your Bookshelves To Remove Booklice Bugs 

There’s no better way to eliminate tiny bugs than vacuuming. 

Booklice can be removed from your bookshelves by vacuuming them. However, you shouldn’t stop there.

If you have booklice in your books and bookshelves, you probably have them in your kitchen and bathroom, too.

Your bathroom floor’s shower grout will have these tiny bugs as well as the floors and countertops in your kitchen.

Your pantry needs to be cleaned. Make sure there are no damaged dry foods. You don’t need to throw away any food if there is any.

You can kill booklice in dry foods and grains by exposing them to direct sunlight for 3-5 hours.

The food is damaged if there is mold on the grains and if you smell a bit of stench coming from it. Discard the food in these cases.

To prevent infestations from pantry pests, store grains and dry foods in thick airtight sealed jars.

Control Or Reduce Moisture In Your Home

You probably already know that high levels of dampness play a significant role in attracting booklice indoors. 

Your home becomes damp because of leaky pipes, roof leaks, and plumbing problems. Make sure these leaks are fixed. 

The dampness in walls and floors will be reduced if water leaks are fixed. It will make your home more resistant to damp bugs like booklice.

Install a dehumidifier in your home as well. If you live in an area where it is hot and humid, it is essential.

Adding a dehumidifier to your home will reduce the amount of moisture in the air. This is effective for keeping away bugs like roaches and termites that are attracted to moisture.

Bookworms – Tiny Worms That Eat Books

As with bed worms, there are no bookworms. An insect larva that eats books, papers, and cardboard boxes is known as a bookworm.

They are larvae of beetles such as carpet beetles, common furniture beetles, and cigarette beetles. Book damage is also caused by the larvae of some moths, such as rice moths and cloth moths.

Thus, these insects are called bookworms because their larvae resemble worms. Their color is white or yellowish and they are tiny yet visible to the naked eye.

What are the effects of bookworms on books? To better understand this, let’s take the example of woodboring common furniture beetles.

Eggs are laid in cracks, crevices, and holes of wooden furniture such as bookshelves by the adult common furniture beetle. This larvae eats the wood internally.

These larvae won’t stop when they reach the books. 

What’s the reason? 

The reason paper is a byproduct of wood is that the material contains both cellulose and starch, which are both eaten by woodboring insects’ larvae.

Once the larvae reach the books, they continue to feed. 

During the larval stage, the larvae bore into the hardcover and paper of the books. These damages can be seen as holes and tunnels in the books.

The larvae of carpet beetles are also typical bookworms. 

Carpet beetles lay their eggs on products made of animal matter since the larvae of these beetles eat animal matter.

Books and diaries with genuine leather covers provide the perfect place for adult carpet beetles to lay their eggs.

Once the eggs hatch, the larvae of the carpet beetle feed on leather covers and book bindings. 

Damage appears as clusters of chew marks on the leather book cover.

The larvae of cloth moths feed on paper, so they lay their eggs on bookshelves as well. 

Larvae of clothes moths cause damage to clothing. The closet and wardrobe are the most popular places for cloth moths to lay eggs. Wool, silk, feathers, fur, cotton, linen, and even synthetic fabrics can be damaged by the larvae of these moths.

Books can also be damaged by larvae that can damage wood or feed on cellulose or starch. 

How Can You Get Rid Of Bookworms?

To eliminate bookworms from the bookshelf and books, follow these three steps –

  1. Cleaning
  2. Spraying essential oil sprays
  3. Keeping mothballs

Cleaning The Bookshelf To Get Rid Of Bookworms

The bookshelf should be vacuumed after all books are removed. You will notice dust on the shelf while cleaning.

Those dust are the feces and chewed-up papers of the bookworms. 

Identify any physical presence of the bookworms in the books. If there are any, use pincers to pick them up and remove them. You don’t need to be afraid of bookworms while reading. They don’t bite.

In addition, you can freeze the books in sealed plastic bags.

Spray Essential Oil Sprays

Essential oil sprays like peppermint spray keep bugs away. They will not lay eggs in the books if you spray them with the essential oil. 

It is not recommended to spray insecticide sprays on bookshelves with books. These can be damaged by the insecticide.

Keep Mothballs In The Bookshelf

Insects that damage books and cloth can be kept at bay with mothballs. Many people use them in their closets and wardrobe to prevent cloth moths and carpet beetles from laying eggs.

Keeping them on a bookshelf is also an option.

Cedar balls can also be kept as an alternative. These smell better than mothballs and do the same job as mothballs.

A bookworm infestation cannot guarantee that your books, furniture, and other items made of animal products are safe. 

Eggs will continue to be laid by adult beetles and moths. The larvae will cause damage to your home unless you eliminate the adult insects or prevent them from entering.

This problem is more prevalent in libraries because adult bugs that produce these larvae can be in large numbers.

On noticing bookworms, it’s always wise to hire a pest control company and ask them to do a pest inspection. You are likely to find many of them inside your home’s furniture.

Termites In Books

Termites are the bug that does the most damage to your books. They eat through the pages. In some cases, they will completely devour the books. 

Paper is eaten by termites because, like wood, it contains cellulose, an essential component of their diet. 

If you find termites in your books, your wooden bookshelf has been infested by termites. 

Furthermore, if the bookshelf is close to a wall, there is a good chance that termites are in the wall as well.

The presence of termites in your books indicates that the termite infestation has spread deeply into your home.

It is not recommended to use DIY methods to eliminate termites because most DIY plans fail. There are, however, ways to get rid of termites in books.

It can be difficult to eradicate pests like bedbugs and termites. A professional exterminator who can eliminate termites from the source is necessary for their treatment.

Discard books that have been destroyed by termites for the time being. You can also spray your bookshelf with pesticide to prevent termites. 

Get rid of the chewed paper and termite dust from your bookshelf. In case of holes on the bookshelf, seal them with a silicone-based sealant that termites cannot chew through.

Silverfish Bugs In Books

A silverfish is a tiny scaly bug with two appendages at each end and a pair of antennae. The silverfish enter homes during the spring and summer months in search of dampness and moisture.

During the day, these bugs hide in dark areas of your house because they are nocturnal. At night, they come out to feed.

The key components of their diet are starches and fibers. They are attracted to books because of that. 

Books and other paper products such as newspaper piles, photo albums, wallpaper, and notebooks contain high levels of starch, which makes them a source of nutrition for silverfish.

Silverfish eat book bindings and glue on them as well. 

There is nothing harmful about silverfish. You won’t have to worry about them biting you or causing significant damage to your home.

A silverfish can damage books by leaving tiny holes, serrated edges, or yellow stains on the paper.

A firebrat is another bug that looks like a silverfish and damages books and papers. 

Silverfish and firebrats are both members of the Lepismatildae family. There are differences, however, in how they look and where you will find them.

A silvery metallic sheen covers the back of silverfish. Unlike firebrats, which are gray or brown, the scales on their back are more prominent. 

You can find silverfish in humid areas of your house, such as the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and laundry room. 

Nevertheless, firebrats can survive both in dry and wet areas of your house.

How To Get Rid Of Silverfish In Books?

If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can eliminate silverfish in books on your own.

The silverfish in the books can be wiped off with a duster. Make sure your bookshelf is clean to ensure there are no silverfish.

Spray peppermint oil on the bookshelf to prevent further silverfish infestation. 

Your books and bookshelf will remain free of silverfish thanks to the smell of peppermint oil. 

Silverfish in books, however, means that silverfish are in your home, just like the other bugs on the list.

Bugs that seek moisture are silverfish. 

If you have found them in your bookshelf, then these bugs are hiding in places like your bathroom and kitchen. You can also find silverfish in dark and cluttered areas of your home, such as the attic, storage room, and basement. 

Silverfish damage in books can be prevented by cleaning all these places and getting rid of silverfish in your home. 

Cockroaches In Books And Cardboard Boxes

Books and papers are not a typical food source for cockroaches, but they can eat them too.

The cockroach is a scavenger. Most of their diet is decaying organic matter, human food, and sugar. 

Roaches also feed on starch, and the paper contains large amounts of it. 

When there isn’t enough food, cockroaches eat books’ papers. Before eating the paper, the cockroach converts the starch in the paper into glucose in its saliva.

Cockroaches, on the other hand, hide in piles of paper and cardboard boxes. These places are also where they nest. These cardboard boxes and paper piles can provide roaches with food.

A cardboard box in a dark, cluttered attic or basement can be a hiding place for many bugs such as roaches, crickets, and spiders. 

In these places, rats and mice can hide in cardboard boxes. Their gnaw marks on the boxes and smear marks on the boxes indicate their presence.

Thanks to the lack of clutter and waste on your bookshelves, roaches are unlikely to live in your books. 

The German roaches damage books most of the time. German cockroaches prefer dry places to hide. They can even be found hiding in electrical kitchen appliances. 

However, the American roaches, which are also a common roach species in homes, hide near the plumbing in your kitchen, basement, and bathroom.

The damage caused by cockroaches to books appears as small holes and rough edges. The books and bookshelves will also have droppings or feces from cockroaches.

As a result of cockroaches eating the book bindings, the pages fall off the books. 

How Can You Keep Roaches Away From Your Books?

A roach in a book or on a bookshelf is a clear indication of cockroaches in your home. It would take an elaborate plan or the expertise of a pest controller to get rid of them.

Nevertheless, there are steps you can take right now to keep cockroaches from getting into your books.

Keep Catnip Plant On Or Near The Bookshelf

Roaches hate the smell of catnip plants. Research has shown that placing catnip plants in your home can keep the German roaches away.

Consider keeping a catnip plant near your bookshelf. The chemical in catnip plants, nepetalactone, repels roaches.

Additionally, you can sprinkle catnip powder around your bookshelf and on your books to keep roaches away.

Boric Acid Kills Roaches

Researchers have proven that boric acid kills bugs like roaches and termites slowly. 

Prepare a boric acid killer recipe by mixing flour, sugar, and half a cup of boric acid together in a bowl.

Prepare a dough by adding some water. You can keep the balls of dough on the bookshelf if you make small balls. 

(You can also keep the powdered mixture near the bookshelf.)

The cellulose in the sugar, which cockroaches eat, will attract them. Upon eating the dough balls, the cockroaches will be slowly killed by the boric acid present in the balls.

Some of the dough balls will be taken back to the colonies by roaches, and the other roaches will eat them too.

An entire colony of roaches can be wiped out by that.

This boric acid roach-killing recipe can also be used in places where roaches hide, such as the kitchen and bathroom.

Please keep this recipe out of reach of children and pets. 

Cinnamon Sticks On The Bookshelf

Many bugs, including roaches, are repellent to cinnamon. The scent of cinnamon is also pleasant. In the bookshelf, you can keep a couple of cinnamon sticks between each book. 

Cinnamon sticks or powder will not kill roaches, however. These are bug repellants, not killers.

Is it Safe To Use Insecticide Sprays To Kill Roaches In Books And Cardboard Boxes?

You can use the sprays like raid, but the insecticide can damage your books. Therefore, it is best to spray them on the roaches and near the books rather than on the books themselves. 

You can spray raid on cardboard boxes with paper piles or books and magazines stored in dark places, such as attics and storage rooms in your home.

That will certainly help keep away and eliminate roaches and other bugs living in cardboard boxes.


The five most common types of bugs that damage books, eat paper, and can infest cardboard boxes are as follows:

  1. Booklice
  2. Bookworms
  3. Termites
  4. Silverfish and Firebrats
  5. Cockroaches

Furthermore, you have learned the five reasons why these bugs infest books, as well as the steps to eliminate these paper-damaging pests.

It is important to note here that these bugs do not feed primarily on books and paper. However, your books attract these insects due to their starch and cellulose content.

Additionally, your books and other paper products are not the first things these bugs eat. 

It is clear from the presence of these bugs in your books that they were already present in your home before they reached your books.

Termites, cockroaches, and bookworms may need the assistance of a pest management company to be exterminated.

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