Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Pest Identification



No flash light, better colour
No flash light, better  
Hello Mr. Saugstad,
We have a pest problem here in BC, Canada that we are hoping you might be able to help us with.  Four days ago I opened a box of pasta and noticed very tiny (less than 1mm) bugs all over the noodles.  Upon further inspection the pantry was full of these insects (in boxes, in bags done up with clips, under the shelf liner, etc.). They are very small and hard to see unless you use a flash light.  They move fairly quickly.  

We removed everything from the pantry, vacuumed and washed it down with bleach.  Since then we keep finding them even after repeated vacuuming, and use of bleach or vinegar. We do this many times a day and they still seem to be coming. We have used silicone to seal every crack.

The pantry backs onto the bathroom wall and today my husband searched and noticed them along the floor in the bathroom in that wall and behind the baseboard when he pulled it off.

We have looked at countless websites trying to figure out what they are and are stumped. Some images resemble that of dampwood termites, but the fact that they were in food confuses us.

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I am attaching a photo taken using a magnifying device of my daughters.


Dear Melody - What you have there are booklice (Psocodea: Liposcelidae). These basically are nuisance pests that feed primarily on mould spores and bits of organic detritus. When found on stored foodstuffs, it usually is because the material has become damp and/or mouldy. The best control for these is humidity/moisture management as they require humid conditions in order to thrive. Lowering indoor humidity levels as much as practical and eliminating unnecessary sources of moisture (fixing leaky pipes/taps, emptying condensation from refrigeration/air conditioning units, etc.). If the problem persists after taking those measures, you might consider contacting a professional pest management service - see http://tinyurl.com/6sns29w for a starting point.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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