While mould can seem ugly and unpleasant, it is a major source of food for many UK bugs. Insects that consume mould can be found outdoors or in the home and, as many eat microscopic moulds, their food sources may be difficult to spot and treat indoors. However, treating damp and taking steps to reduce humidity in the home are simple ways to control mould-eating insects without having to use pesticides.
Psocids, also known as booklice and barklice, are one of the bugs that are common in UK homes. While psocids reach up to 1m in length, most species found in the home measure no more than 1.5mm. These small insects have soft bodies with long antennae and have a grey or brown appearance. Psocids are found in dry foods, carpets, amongst stores of old books and in humid areas of the home where the mould that they feed on develops. Some species also live outdoors in areas such as caves or woodland. Preventing excess humidity and keeping dry foods in suitable containers helps to control psocids in the home.
Another common insect that feasts on mould is the silverfish, so-called because of the way they move. Silverfish are found in the home or outdoors, but always choose moist habitats which are perfect for growing mould, an important part of the insect’s diet. Silverfish usually measure just over 1mm, can be identified by their long silver bodies and long antennae and are often found in damp cupboards, underneath carpets or damp areas of the kitchen or bathroom.
Tiny mould mites are usually difficult to spot unless they are present in large numbers inside a home. Mould forms a major part of the mould mite’s diet and, like similar insects, is usually found in moist outdoor habitats or damp areas of a house such as old furniture, damp wallpaper or in dried foods. Trapped humidity in a house leads to mould developing and provides the perfect setting for mould mites to reproduce. Ensuring a house has good ventilation or using a dehumidifier helps to control mould mites and other insects that feed on mould.
Plaster beetle lives in either very new or very old properties as both types of home have moist plaster for different reasons. Damp plaster encourages the growth of mould and offers an ideal habitat for plaster beetle larvae and the 2mm-long black adult. Outdoors, the plaster beetle can be found inbirds’ nests and on the leaves of trees.