In this post, you’ll get to know why there are booklice in rice and how to get rid of them without throwing away your grains.
Booklice doesn’t come to people’s minds when they think about pantry pests. They believe that it’s only the moths, weevils, and a few others that invade their kitchen.
But it isn’t like that.
Booklice, known as Psocids (pronounced as “so kids”), also invade kitchens and stored grains.
Booklice are common in many homes across the US. But given their love for humidity and moisture, booklice infestation has significantly increased in the south and the southeastern US.
But not to worry. We’ve got you covered.
Let’s deep dive into the topic.
How Do You Know That’s Book Lice In Rice?
If you spot bugs that look similar to bed bugs crawling on the rice, then that’s a booklice.
Booklice can get onto your bed. That cause panic in many people because they think that there are bed bugs.
But booklice and bed bugs are a whole lot different insects.
Both booklice and bed bugs have a similar color. That’s the main reason that people confuse between the two.
But there’s a stark difference between the two. The significant difference between booklice and a bed bug is that it is more circular than the booklice.
Booklice are oval with an ant or termite like abdomen with a visible neck. In contrast, the bedbug has a flat circular abdomen.
Another sign of booklice infestation is visible molds on rice grains. Booklice create their molds, which is their feces.
You may also observe transparent booklice, which are a little bit brownish. These are newborn booklice.
But, there are many tiny brown bugs that invade food pantry and kitchen. The little booklice look different from them.
The presence of newborn Psocids indicates that there has been booklice infestation in your rice container or food pantry for quite some time.
What’s The Reason Behind Booklice In Rice?
Why do booklice infest rice? Booklice can also invade other food grains like corn, flour, and cereals.
The reason for booklice infestation in rice is similar to the reasons for other types of pantry pest infestation in your kitchen.
So, here are the reasons for booklice in rice. Any one of these reasons can cause booklice to creep into your food grains and live and breed.
- Dirty kitchen: A messy kitchen attracts all kinds of pests. Not only harmless pantry pests like rice moths, booklice, and weevils, but also harmful ones like roaches and ants.
- Dampness: Dampness, and moistness attract booklice. If the grain storage area has a lot of moisture, then booklice invading your food grains is highly probable.
- Dead Insects: Booklice eat dead insects and larvae. So, if different types of bugs have infested food grains in your pantry, then they can surely attract booklice.
- Molds: Booklice feed on mold. High moisture content creates mold on rice that booklice savor a lot. If the food storage area has more than 14% moisture content, then molds will form in rice. That’s why places like the kitchen, basement, laundry room, bathroom, where there’s a lot of moisture, also attract booklice. Molds that form in books also attract booklice to books.
- Fungi: High moisture content in food grain storage also leads to fungi in food grains, including rice. The most common fungi in food grains are Claviceps purpurea that attracts booklice.
- Presence of booklice in packaged grains: Booklice may be present in the package grain you brought into your kitchen. Many packaged grains are already infested with pantry pests when they’re in grocery stores’ storage area.
How To Get Rid Of Booklice In Rice And From Your Kitchen?
Fortunately, getting rid of booklice in rice and from your kitchen isn’t a herculean task. You wouldn’t need any expensive pest control either.
Here how to get rid of booklice in rice and kitchen, step by step –
Deep Clean Your Kitchen To Make Your Kitchen Less Habitable For Booklice
It’s the first and essential step to take to get rid of booklice and all the other kinds of pantry pests.
As we stated earlier, a dirty kitchen is a haven for many pests. Clean your kitchen thoroughly to repel all these pests.
Make sure you put more focus on the hard-to-reach areas like underneath the kitchen sink, gaps in the drawers, corners of the kitchen cabinet, and the food pantry.
If your kitchen were uncleaned for a long time, you’d find a lot of pests, including roaches, scurrying out of these places while cleaning.
Fix Water Leakages To Reduce Moisture In Your Home And Kitchen
Water leakages increase the moisture content in your home and kitchen, making it attractive to all kinds of pests, including booklice.
So, check out the plumbing in your kitchen and other places like the bathroom, laundry room, garage, and basement. If there’s any leakage, fix it.
Also, check out other moisture sources like gutter and downspouts. Clean them all to remove water logging in them.
Stagnant water not only increases the moisture content in your home but also becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Along with fixing plumbing and leakage issues, it’d be best if you keep a good quality humidifier in your home. Humidifiers reduce humidity and moisture levels that make your home inhabitable for many pests.
Heat Your Rice And Other Food Grains To Kill The Booklice
It’s an ingenious step, which guarantees the elimination of booklice in rice.
If you have got a considerable quantity of rice, then segregate the rice into different bowls.
Now keep each bowl inside your oven at 120° F for 15 minutes.
Take the rice out. You’ll find roasted and dead booklice in the rice. Remove the dead booklice from the rice. And put the rice in an airtight jar.
After this step, you don’t need to worry if your rice is safe to eat or not. Your rice is safe for consumption.
Remember, always keep your food grains and cereals in strong and thick airtight jars. Some pantry pests like moths can drill through thin airtight jars and lay eggs in grains.
Keep The Rice Under Direct Sunlight To Get Rid Of Booklice In Rice
This is an alternative step to the last one.
Keeping rice and food grains under direct sunlight also removes the bugs infesting them.
But the sunlight must be strong enough.
You’ll have to spread the rice on a long and wide cloth, preferably a bedsheet. Keep the bedsheet, spread out, with the rice on it, under the sun for 2-3 hours.
If you keep the jar or container with rice in it under the sun, then the booklice won’t go away. Instead, the booklice will go deep inside the jar to escape the sunlight.
So, it’d be best that you scatter the rice on the floor over a bedsheet and keep the bedsheet under direct sunlight.
What If You Consume Booklice By Mistake?
Booklice are harmless to humans. They’re not parasites, they don’t bite, and booklice are safe to consume.
Sometimes you might eat a few booklice present in rice, cornmeal, flour, oats, and different grains. You don’t have to worry if you do because it’s safe.
We’re not saying that you must eat booklice. We only mean that even if you eat a few by mistake, it’s safe.
Booklice are one of those harmless pantry pests that can infest rice and food grains in your pantry.
It can happen because of high levels of humidity and dirt in your kitchen.
In this post, we’ve revealed why booklice infest your kitchen. We’ve also given you some useful tips to get rid of them.
There’s a common pantry pest that infests your kitchen and spoils your food, rice moths. Read our post on how to get rid of rice moths make your kitchen moth-free.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.