Calling All Bookworms: Pests To Watch Out For During National Reading Month

Last Updated: March 7, 2023

Home / The Orkin Blog / Calling All Bookworms: Pests To Watch Out For During National Reading Month

Whether you live in a household with a student, are an avid reader yourself, or simply haven’t spent much time decluttering your space, it is likely that you have books stored away somewhere in your home. Books can be used for decorations, hobbies, or collectables, and while there are many benefits that come with owning them, there’s also one thing that you must be careful about … pests!

While books and pests can sometimes go together, the pests that are attracted to books may not pose a significant health risk for humans, though a few pests can potentially cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Although these pests may not cause you physical harm, they will destroy your books and furniture, and become a visual nuisance in your home. This National Reading Month, Orkin Canada can help you prevent pests from spoiling your fun, so you don’t have to take the term “bookworm” so literally.

In honour of National Reading Month, we’ve compiled a list of the top pests to watch out.

Common Pests To Watch Out For

Books In Bad Conditions

When it comes to pest infestations and books, it’s all about the physical condition. Books kept under poor conditions such as moist air, mold, water damage, humidity and increased heat, or books that may be trapped in boxes for long periods of time, are more likely to attract a variety of pests.


The first stage in a beetle‘s life cycle is larvae. These larvae look like worms, they often burrow or are found inside the infested book material hence it is this “Larvae” that gives “bookworm” its nickname.

Cockroaches and Termites

One thing that cockroaches and termites have in common is their food source. These pests eat cellulose, which includes materials that books are made of. Paper, fabric, and glue are a few items on their grocery list. Subterranean termites build mud tubes as protective travelling tunnels, these tubes can damage books by caking them even if it is not actually consumed by the termites. They can also damage wood bookshelves. If you see signs of these insects, it’s important to take action right away before they populate and damage your books. Cockroaches can also potentially trigger allergic reactions or asthmatic symptoms in highly sensitive people.


Silverfish get their name from their grey silvery colour and fish-like appearance. These insects are the most common indoor book infesting pest, and they can be your worst nightmare when it comes to your home library, book collection or storage. These pests will eat just about anything in sight, making the glue and paper materials on your books a feast for Silverfish. These insects aren’t a risk to your health, but they can damage your books by making holes, discolouring and staining them as they feed and leaving droppings and scales.


Mice and rats can chew through just about anything, so it’s no surprise that they’re likely to be a culprit of book damage. Rodents enter human environments in search of food and warmth, making hardcover novels in cluttered spaces a million-dollar listing for these pests. Not only will they be attracted to chewing through the materials of books, but they may even use them for nesting. Their droppings and urine can stain and cause irreversible damage to books. Rodent urine and droppings are loaded with pathogens, handling contaminated books can lead to illness. Don’t let these pests give you a horror story to tell!


Psocids, commonly known as booklice, are minute, soft-bodied, transparent whitish insects, usually wingless, and may go unnoticed. They resemble lice in size and appearance, but they are not indeed lice. They feed on microscopic mold and mildew associated with high-humidity conditions, which is why books stored under conditions are often infested with Psocids. Though they do not pose health risks to humans, their droppings, feeding and cast skins can stain and damage books. When in large numbers, these pests can be a nuisance.

Leather Books

Leather is a material often used in some book coverings and bindings. Whether it’s a special edition of your favourite novel or a copy of your old journal, items bound in leather can be an attractive meal for animal protein loving insects.


Hide and Larder Beetles often feed on animal carcasses or dried animal protein. However, if these insects make their way into your household, they will be attracted to leather bond books. The larvae can bore into the leather, and their feeding can cause holes and scaring in the book cover. Droppings and cast skins from larvae can stain and damage books.

Cloth Moths

Cloth moths are fabric pests, they will be attracted to books that have animal fibers and materials such as leather, silk, wool, fur, and felt covering or inserts. The larvae is the damaging stage; it damages associated book materials by grazing on the surfaces, making holes, forming webbing and stains from their droppings.



Bookshelves are popular interior design elements. Whether you own a large collection of bestsellers or use shelves as furniture for display, these items can be a hot spot for ant infestations. It’s possible to find these tiny insects enjoying the structure of your bookshelves, and it’s also common for some species, such as pharaoh ants, to nest inside the books. Nesting can occur if books are soiled with food crumbs or spills, so it’s best to make sure you’re keeping your books taste-free! Moisture damaged wood bookshelves can be infested by wood nesting ants such as carpenter ants, so ensure your shelves are sound and not water damaged

The best way to prevent pests from invading your library is to take precautions when it comes to organizing and storing your book collection. In honour of National Reading Month, it is a good idea to declutter your space and clean off your bookshelves, keeping away any book “worms” from checking out your books!

If you notice signs of a pest infestation in your home, your local Orkin Canada branch is just a call away!

Remove pests from your home, and stop them from coming back

We work hard to listen, understand and assess your unique situation. Request a free, no-obligation estimate today for a customized pest program that fits your needs.

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Alice Sinia Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services

Reviewed by Alice Sinia, Ph.D., MSc on March 1 2023.

Master of Science Degree in Pest Management (MSc.) – Simon Fraser University; BSc. (Hons) Biological Sciences (Entomology & Parasitology) – Makerere University; Advanced Level Certificate of Education – Trinity College; Ph.D. – University of Guelph)

With more than 20 years of experience, Alice is responsible for the management of the Orkin Canada Quality Assurance Laboratory located at our GTA Training Centre. She performs analytical entomology (investigates product adulteration using biochemical and comparative tissue methods), and provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients nationwide. In addition, Alice also prepares scientific reports for Orkin Canada clients, updates Orkin management on any changes or updates to any government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. Alice also performs quality assurance account compliance audits.

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Remove pests from your home, and stop them from coming back

We work hard to listen, understand and assess your unique situation. Request a free, no-obligation estimate today for a customized pest program that fits your needs.

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