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Psocids are any insect that belongs to the order Psocoptera, a group of 5,000 species of extremely small soft-bodied insects that are less than 5mm in length.  They have long and slender antennae that are at least as long as its body. Psocids are commonly called booklice, as they are usually found indoors on musty shelves in old books and paper (thus the name) and in cereals. 

Biology and Behavior

soft-bodied psocid

  • They have mouthparts that are adapted for chewing, with the top part of the upper jaw elongated and chisel-like.

  • They eat fungi, molds, grains, pollen and other organic debris.

  • When outdoors, psocids are found on tree bark and other foliage as well as under stones and in ground litter.

  • Outdoor species of psocids are winged while most structural infesting species are wingless.

  • They infest food sources, kitchen cupboards and even bathrooms.

  • Psocids enjoy warm, humid areas that are especially dark.

  • They can be found in carpets and other furnishings and sometimes even new plaster that provides a humid harborage while it dries out.

  • Some species of psocids are parthenogenetic (capable of reproduction without males).

  • Psocids carry no diseases and are not a health risk, but they are a nuisance pest, especially when found in large numbers inside buildings. 

Psocid Control Tips

  • Remove food sources that may be infested with psocids.

  • Check food that is not infected with psocids to make sure that they aren’t present elsewhere, including under paper labels on cans or bottles or cardboard packaging.

  • Store dry food products in a cool, dry place that has good ventilation

  • Regularly clean your cupboards and always allow them to fully dry before returning food to them.

  • Make sure the area of activity has good ventilation, as condensation allows for the growth of mold, which is a food source of psocids.

  • Reducing relative humidity below 50% and increasing air movement to eliminate moist ‘micro-environments’ is the key to long-term control. 

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