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 eat 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 that eat paper do so because paper contains starchy and carbohydrate nutrients. Old papers in garages, attics, or basement shelves also provide sufficient shelter for bugs against predators while acting as a food source at the same time.

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 to inspect 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 of white, black, and orange or yellow colours. 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 body’s overall appearance is humpbacked. The larvae of a cigarette beetle resemble a worm and benefit from an off-white color.

2. Silverfish

Silverfish eat paper, and it is possible to find them on or around papers. 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 moist and humid environments, such as your home’s basement or attic. 

3. Cockroaches

Cockroaches have an unparalleled ability to ingest and digest cellulose, 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 bug’s saliva can convert the starch in paper into glucose for easy, faster digestion. 

Roache’s larvae will discolor your books and leave residues of egg casings between papers and books. You may suffer from triggered allergic reactions or asthmatic attacks if exposed to the skin resulting from cockroach shedding. 

Cockroaches can be found in your home’s dark, warm, and damp locations. 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 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 impossible 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 silverfish, booklice, termites, cockroaches, and beetles. For instance, beetles that are paper eaters include red flour, black carpet beetle, and skin beetle. 

The softness of toilet paper makes it easier for bugs to chew. 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 paper in the bathroom or basement, understand those are prime locations for developing and reproducing bugs. Because the environments have higher humidity, there is a promotion of a faster life cycle for 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 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 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, you need to keep, place them 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 sensitive. Look for mold in damp places, like inside your bathroom and kitchen. 

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

3. Control the levels of humidity

Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier in 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 leaking or dripping pipes, mop spills instantly, and ensure that any mats around the bathrooms are well dried. 

4. Improve ventilation

Open your windows and doors whenever possible and use fans for proper ventilation. Adequate air circulation 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 papers from bugs (keeping bugs away from paper)

Protect paper from bugs by adhering to the following recommendations.

  1. Store your paper and other 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 overly dry environment 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 food source 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.


  • Felix Odi

    Hi, I’m an experienced author and content creator with over 18 years of experience as a publisher. Growing up in rural areas of Bristol, FL, I developed an interest in pest control, fish farming, and poultry keeping. Farming is a main activity in the area, and pests are always part of our major setbacks. I had to learn how to get rid of them with simple DIYs.