Bookworm (insect)

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Pages riddled with bookworm damage on Errata.
Traces of a bookworm in a book
A bookworm / beetle grub found inside a paperback book, showing some of the damage it has wrought

Bookworm is a popular generalization for any insect that is said to bore through books.[1][2]

True book-borers are uncommon. Two types of moths, the common clothes moth and the brown house moth, will attack cloth bindings.[3][4] Leather-bound books attract various beetles, such as the larder beetle,[5] drugstore beetle[6] and the larva of the black carpet beetle.[7] Larval deathwatch beetles and common furniture beetles will tunnel through wood and paper (if it is near the wood).[8][9]


A major book-feeding insect is the book or paper louse (also known as booklouse or paperlouse). These are tiny (under 1 mm), soft-bodied wingless psocopterans (usually Trogium pulsatorium), which feed on microscopic molds and other organic matter found in ill-maintained works (e.g., cool, damp, dark, and undisturbed areas of archives, libraries, and museums), although they will also attack bindings and other book parts, making the booklouse not a true louse.[10]

By the 20th century, modern bookbinding materials thwarted much of the damage done to books by various types of book-boring insects.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bookworm insect". Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  2. ^ Wiener, Ann Elizabeth (2018). "What's That Smell You're Reading?". Distillations. 4 (1): 36–39. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  3. ^ "Identifying and controlling clothes moths, carpet beetles and silverfish". Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  4. ^ "Brown house moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella (Stainton)". Canadian Grain Commission. 2013-08-30. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  5. ^ "Larder beetle". Canadian Grain Commission. 2013-08-30. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  6. ^ "Drugstore beetle". University of Florda. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  7. ^ "Black Carpet Beetle". Penn State. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "Woodworm Anobium Punctatum". Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  9. ^ "Deathwatch beetle". Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  10. ^ "Bugs That Eat Books!". Colonial Pest Control Inc. 2013-03-21. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  11. ^ Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing. p. 198.

Further reading[edit]