Bugs That Eat Paper + How to Control Them

If you find your paper with a yellowish look, holes, and dust, it may be because bugs are eating it. Other potential signs of an infestation and damage to your papers are ragged edges, droppings, scratch-like markings, egg casings, and dead or alive insects. 

Bugs eat paper products because of their organic matter, supplying a good dose of starchy and carbohydrate nutrients. Old papers on shelves, in the garage, attic, or basement, also provide sufficient shelter for bugs against predators and other harmful elements.

5 Types of bugs that eat paper

Bugs That Eat Paper
Bugs that eat paper

The bugs that eat paper are not easy to spot because they are small in size and possess an instinct to always remain in hiding. Therefore, you may need to use a magnifying glass for inspecting your bundle of books or papers to confirm if bugs that like paper are feasting at your expense. Here’s a list of bugs that eat paper:

1. Beetles

The beetles known to eat paper are cigarette beetles and carpet beetles. Carpet beetles spend most of their lives infesting and eating carpets. On the other hand, a cigarette beetle got its name from attacking and destroying stored tobacco. Still, the two types of beetles may infest your papers.

Adult carpet beetles can grow up to a height of 4mm long. The bugs have oval-shaped bodies, with a shell stripped with white, black, and orange or yellow colors. The tiny eggs that carpet beetles lay are creamy or whitish. The larva is much bigger than a fully grown adult carpet beetle.

An adult cigarette beetle is oval-shaped and may be yellowish or reddish-brown. Its antennas not only have wings but are also serrated. Because the head of a cigarette beetle bends downward, the overall appearance of the body is humpbacked. The larvae of a cigarette beetle resemble a worm and benefit from an off-white color.

2. Silverfish

Silverfish eats paper, making it possible for you to find it scurrying around items made using paper. Like other bugs and insects, the silverfish likes consuming paper-based items since they have a plentiful supply of essential dietary nutrients. The pesky insects also devour cotton, photos, wallpapers, and the glue and linen bindings on your paper or book.

The bugs are wingless and small, and thus you may have trouble seeing them with your naked eye. You may need to use a magnifying glass to observe a silverfish. When you examine a silverfish, you will see two long antennae and a grainy silver covering. 

Silverfish spend their time in environments that are moist and humid, such as your home’s basement or attic. 

3. Cockroaches

Cockroaches have an unparalleled ability to ingest and digest cellulose, which is richly present in papers and even some clothes. Roaches are incredibly destructive to papers, leather, fabric, cardboard boxes, book bindings, and the glue on your stamps and wallpapers. Cockroaches also like feeding on garbage, tobacco, sweets, grease, and vegetables.

The saliva of the bug can convert the starch in paper into glucose for easy, faster digestion. 

Roaches larvae will discolor your books and leave residues of egg casings between papers and books. If you are exposed to skins resulting from cockroach shedding, you may suffer from triggered allergic reactions or asthmatic attacks. 

Cockroaches can be found in dark, warm, and damp locations in your home. If you suspect an infestation, areas to look for the bugs may include wet corners, leaking pipes, drains, kitchens, and bathrooms. 

4. Booklice

Booklice are a common lice species that is common in heated buildings. The bugs have no wings and are small. 

The insects like to eat microscopic mold attached to your paper or other surfaces like cardboard and books. Hence, expect the surface of your paper to be grazed and damaged. The damage can be extensive and impossible to reverse when many insects invade and eat your papers.

5. Termites

If there is a termite infestation in your home, it is often not possible for you to notice the problem until it is more visible and widespread. That is why termites are considered silent killers.

Materials made from wood like papers and books are excellent sources of cellulose. The cellulose compound is found naturally in the cell walls of trees and plants.

Bugs that eat toilet paper

Bugs that eat toilet paper include the silverfish, booklice, termites, cockroaches, and beetles. For instance, beetles that are paper eaters include the red flour beetle, black carpet beetle, and skin beetle. 

The softness of toilet paper makes it easier for bugs during chewing. The bugs tend to start feeding on toilet paper from its outer edges moving inwards. 

If you are one of the many people who stockpile toilet papers in the bathroom or basement, understand those are prime locations for the development and reproduction of bugs. Because the environments have higher humidity, there is a promotion of a faster life cycle of different types of bugs that eat paper.

Adhere to the preventive and control measures below to safeguard your toilet paper from bugs.

  1. Store your toilet paper inside the original packaging. When you buy toilet paper, it is usually packaged using plastic bags. That is because breaking down plastic, a synthetic material, is difficult, which deters its consumption by bugs.
  2. Place your toilet paper inside a plastic pipe, like the ones used for drainage in your home. Once you have placed the rolls of toilet paper on top of each other, ensure both ends of the plastic pipe are sealed to prevent bugs from getting inside and leaving a trail of damage.
  3. Store your toilet paper in a durable plastic container meant for garbage collection. The container must be tightly sealed. You can position mothballs all around the container to assist in repelling bugs that may want to attack.

How to get rid of bugs that eat paper

Get rid of paper-eating bugs in your home by utilizing the following tips. 

1. Throw out infested items

Your infested belongings may include papers, books, old cereal boxes, and food. For infected items that you need to keep, place the items in a sealed plastic bag and put them in the freezer for a day or two. 

Subsequently, take the bag out of the freezer and vacuum your items to get rid of the dead bugs completely.

2. Get rid of mold

Molds may serve as an excellent food source for specific bugs like booklice. Also, eliminate mold since it is an irritant and can trigger allergic reactions if you are a sensitive person. Look for mold in places that are damp, like inside your bathroom and kitchen. 

Scrub surfaces with mold growth using borax, an oxygen bleach, or other effective solution.

3. Control the levels of humidity

Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier in the locations infested by bugs to deprive them of high humidity levels. Without sufficient moisture, bugs cannot survive in your home. Measure the humidity inside your space using a hygrometer and ensure the moisture is below 50 percent. 

Eliminate standing water or sources of standing water in and around your house that may cause damp environments that promote mold growth and attract bug infestation. 

Fix pipes that are leaking or dripping, mop spills instantly, and have mats in front of your bathtubs and showers. 

4. Improve ventilation

Open your windows and doors whenever possible and use fans to deliver proper ventilation inside your home. Adequate circulation of air will eliminate the dampness in different areas of your house that attract bugs like termites that eat cabinets and papers.

5. Use pesticides

Due to the harmful nature of commercial products like pesticides, only use them when necessary, such as when the infestation is alarming. 

How to protect paper from bugs (keeping bugs away from paper)

Protect paper from bugs by adhering to the following recommendations.

  1. Store your paper and other paper materials like boxes, books, and toilet paper properly, away from the ground and damp environment. 
  2. Manage the humidity levels in your living space. Use a dehumidifier, air conditioner, or fan, particularly during the hotter periods. But, placing your papers in an environment that is overly dry is not suitable for their health. 
  3. Use plastic containers to store your paper and paper products. Do not use cardboard for storing your paper as they are an excellent source of food for bugs that eat paper. And do not take cardboard boxes initially stored in damp environments like the basement inside the home.
  4. Keep food away from contact with your paper. 
  5. Properly seal crevices or cracks that may enable bugs to get inside your home and attack your paper.
  6. Dust places that hold your papers regularly. Dust provides an appealing habitat for bugs.
  7. Remove leaf debris from your gutters and around your home and discourage your plants or tree leaves and branches from leaning on the walls of your buildings. 

Always be on the lookout for potential signs of bugs that eat fabric because those can also eat paper. Those that eat paper can also eat fabric and early control can avoid extensive destruction. Strive to maintain the protection of your paper belongings against paper-eating bugs.