How to Kill Book Lice

Written by larry parr
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Book lice are exactly what they sound like--tiny, lice-like insects that live in books and eat the tiny moulds that grow on the pages of slightly damp books. They also live in cracks and crevices in kitchens and other damp places. Not only are these tiny pests disgusting, they can destroy your treasured books and they can be transferred to food products, including grains, cereals and pet foods. While book lice do not bite humans, their faeces and body parts infect food products. Once they get a foothold in your home, they are hard to keep under control. There are three primary ways to rid your home of these pests: chemical sprays and powders, freezing and microwaving.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Microwave oven
  • Freezer
  • Spray or powder pesticide containing pyrethrin or cyfluthrin
  • Air-tight food containers

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  1. 1

    Store all cereals and grains in airtight containers.

  2. 2

    Clean all cracks and crevices around sinks and countertops thoroughly with ammonia-based cleaners, and dry all cracks and crevices completely using a portable hair dryer. Reducing the moisture of their hiding places will kill the majority of book lice.

  3. 3

    Place books and other small objects in a microwave for 40 seconds (on high). This will kill both adult book lice and their eggs.

  4. 4

    Place infested objects in a freezer with the temperature set at -17.8 degrees C for a full 24 hours. Adults will be killed in three to four hours, but eggs require a full 24 hours to kill.

  5. 5

    Dust or spray an insecticide containing pyrethrin or cyfluthrin (check the label) into cracks or crevices or any damp place where the lice live and thrive.

Tips and warnings

  • Drying areas with a hair dryer where book lice are seen will kill the vast majority of them.
  • Keep all pesticides away from children, animals and areas where food is stored or prepared.

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