Q: I have these tiny bugs that keep showing up in my bathroom. I tried to look
on the web for what they are and the closest i can get to what i see are book
mites. On the internet they say that to get rid of them i have to keep my
bathroom free of standing water. These past few days i have done just that
and they seem to always come back no matter what. I have not seen them any
other place besides my bathrooms. What do you think they are and can you get
rid of them for good?
A: Your picture shows what appears to be a booklouse or psocid. Booklice are not true lice which feed on blood of various hosts. Booklice feed only on fungi or mold.
There are more than 5,500 species of booklice worldwide and they live in diverse environments. Some live on trees where they feed on algae and lichens. Others can be found in molding foodstuffs such as cereals and grains. In homes, booklice can be found under wallpaper, on window sills, and around old books where they feed on mold or directly on the starch of the book bindings.
During the summer months, females lay about 60 eggs in cracks and crevices. After hatching, the life cycle can be completed in less than 30 days. During colder months, fewer eggs are laid and the life cycle takes a longer time to complete.
Mold growth is encouraged by high humidity. To control these pests in your bathroom, you need to lower the humidity. There are two ways you can do this to alleviate the situation. One simple method would be to turn on the exhaust fan whenever the shower is in use. This will vent much of the warm, moist air to the outside. Secondly, I would consider putting a dehumidifier in the vicinity of the bathroom to also take additional moisture out of the air. The key is to get the room humidity to about 50% which will prevent the growth of mold and also prevent the development of the psocids.
Ken Ahlstrom, PhD
Economy Exterminators, Inc.