BOOKLOUSE

Liposcelis bostrychophila Badonnel

[Psocoptera: Liposcelidae]

Article by Bruce Gow

booklice

Adult: Booklice are 1-2 mm long. The body is dorso-ventrally (top to bottom) flattened, cigar-shaped, soft and white to greyish in colour.

Head: The head is large compared to the pronotum and bulbous at the apex. Antennae are long (extending to the base of the abdomen) with 12-17 segments and thread-like (filiform). Eyes are reduced to a small number of ocelli (lenses). Mouthparts consist of a bulbous postclypeus, an asymmetrical mandible and a lacinia modified into a sclerotised rod with apical teeth. The mouthparts are modified for fungal feeding.

Thorax: The pronotum is small. All legs are similar in shape. However, the hind femora is enlarged. Liposcelis literally means ‘fat thighs’. Liposcelis bostrychophila are wingless (apterous).

Abdomen: Cerci are absent.


Reproduction & Life-cycle:Adults begin producing eggs within a few days of moulting and produce up to 110 eggs at a rate of 2-3 per day. Eggs are approximately 0.3 times as large as the adult, ovoid and translucent. Eggs are glued to a rough substrate with dust and particulate matter adhering to the surface. The species is parthenogenetic in the UK and no males are produced. The egg eclosion period is 2-3 weeks and temperature dependent. The nymphal stage has 4 moults and nymphs are translucent white in colour. The nymphal period varies from 9-30 days. The life cycle varies from 9-56 days.

Distribution:Liposcelis bostrychophila is a cosmopolitan urban pest worldwide. Originally a tropical species from Africa, booklice have become a pest in the UK, Europe, USA and elsewhere through their close association with humans, human dwellings and food stores. The spread of this species has been a result of commercial trade in stored products.

Pest Status:In Australia Liposcelis bostrychophila is a pest of insect collections and stored material which has become mouldy. Booklice are not considered a threat to public health. However, large numbers of booklice do taint foodstuffs they are inhabiting.

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