Bed Bugs in Books | Strategies to Protect Your Library

Written by Thomas Matthews

One of the main reasons why bed bugs are such challenging pests to deal with is their expertise at hide and seek. They like to live in cool and dry corners and can also live an unimaginably long time without feeding.

Can bed bugs live in books? Bed bugs can live in the spine of the book and the space between the book and the protective covering, especially if the book is in hardcover. They are not able to live between the book pages because of the lack of space.

Library personnel, on the other hand, have resulted to proactively treated their libraries in an effort to protect their clients and businesses. This article covers the possibility of bed bugs living in books and what can be done to eliminate them so please read with care!

Do Bed Bugs Hide in Books?

Bed bugs do hide in books because they provide an ideal harborage for bed bugs. Some of them come with loose covers which in turn provide the perfect location for bed bugs to hide.

Remember that all bed bug needs to feel comfortable. They want a tiny space, any size that can fit an apple seed or a credit card, a cool atmosphere, and an out-of-sight location.

Books are quite popular with bed bugs because they provide the perfect means of transport for the bugs and some readers will even get into bed to read their books, a situation that is more than ideal for the bed bug.

Can Bed Bugs Lay Eggs in Books?

Bed bugs laying eggs in books is very possible especially if the books are not used regularly. Their seclusion and possibly their close proximity to the host, be it a bed or a couch makes books a great place for bed bugs to lay eggs.

Once a bed bug finds a nice undisturbed corner to call home, its next step is to start its own population. This place can be anywhere that meets the ideal conditions that allow the bed bugs to comfortably lay their eggs.

Can Bed Bugs Live in Paperback Books?

Can Bed Bugs Live in Paperback Books

Once they have found the safe conditions of a book and decided to lay their eggs, they are then free to continue living in their newfound space. The best environment for this is the spine of a hardcover book since those tend to have some more space in them when compared to paperback books.

Bed bugs can be found living in paperback books but they are more like to find a home in hardcover books. It isn’t likely to find bed bugs between the pages of any type of book due to lack of space.

Can Bed Bugs Travel in Books?

Bed bugs can travel in books. The biggest percentage of an infestation is a result of hitchhiking bed bugs. Not only do they cling to travelers’ clothes, bags, etc, but they will also hitch a ride inside a book.

This can range from an infested home to the library and then to the home of the next library user who will be unfortunate enough to borrow the infested book. So be careful when checking out books at your local library. Your love for reading could be the reason why your home is infested.

Can You Get Bed Bugs in Used Books?

Much like used furniture, used books can also harbor bed bugs. Books tend to find themselves in close proximity to highly infested areas e.g. beds, couches, etc.

Not only that, books are constant companions in the bed a place where they are likely to collect bed bugs and transport them to their next destination or even make a home in the book.

Can You Get Bed Bugs From Library Books?

Can You Get Bed Bugs From Library Books

You can get bed bugs from library books. Library books can be borrowed by anyone including people whose homes are infested by bed bugs. Once these people return the books to the library, then there is the possibility of these bugs traveling to other books which results in an infestation.

There are cozy places within a library meant to give you a calm reading experience. Once you get settled in the said places, little bed bugs can hitch a ride in your clothes.

Are Bed Bugs Likely to Stay in Books For Long?

The possibility of bed bugs staying in books for long is really high because bed bugs have the ability to stay alive for a long period without food. This characteristic is known as diapause, which allows insects to go dormant once the environment changes into unfavorable conditions.

An adult bed bug can go for a whole year without food. While its typical instinct is to try and find a host to feed on, it will go dormant and try to out-survive its current unpleasant conditions if needed. If the temperature exceeds 118 degrees Fahrenheit or goes below -13 °F, the bed bug will not survive and will die while it still is in its dormant state.

Bed Bugs and Library Books: How Much Damage Can Bed Bugs Cause?

How Much Damage Can Bed Bugs Cause

Bed bugs do not feed on anything else other than blood and so they cannot feed on books. However, just because they have a rather weak feeding straw as a mouth doesn’t mean that your books are completely safe from getting damaged.

Any bed bug-infested area has a giveaway characteristic – blood spots. These blood spots are bed bug excrement. They stain any infested area and so if bed bugs have made a home in the library books, those stains will definitely do some unpleasant damage to the books.

Can You Microwave Books to Kill Bed Bugs?

While a microwave has the ability to hit very high temperatures which kills bed bugs, it is not the ideal place to treat your books. This is because of the following:

  • Microwaves can reach really high temperatures and damage the book, their heat is hard to regulate.
  • Books are made with more material than just paper and so any other materials in the book may get damaged.
  • If the book has some metallic material, it may cause a fire.

All in all, it is wise to stay away from the microwave while trying to kill bed bugs.

Freezing Books to Kill Bed Bugs: Does it Work?

Freezing your books has a higher chance of killing bed bugs. Bed bugs do not survive in below-zero temperatures and so you can put your books in zip-lock bags and deep freeze them for a couple of hours.

The zip lock bags will ensure that your books do not come into contact with any water/ice in the freezer and thus retain the quality of the book. After five hours, remove the books from the freezer and inspect them for any live bugs.

Retaining those books in the freezer a little longer would be the ideal choice to ensure that those eggs are killed too.

Related: Can Bed Bugs Survive in Cold Temperatures? | Insights and Prevention Tips

Can You Put Books in an Oven to Kill Bed Bugs?

Can You Put Books in an Oven to Kill Bed Bugs

You can try to put your books in an oven to kill bed bugs. However, there are consequences. You may damage your books even if you set the heat below 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature at which the paper ignites. As mentioned earlier, books are made up of more than paper.

  • The glue binding the book together may melt.
  • The color of the book may change.
  • Some books are bound together with a string that could ignite.
  • Some books have plastic material on the cover which could melt.

If you care about your books, do not try to bake them. You may destroy your books alongside the bed bugs.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Books? | 4 Best Methods

Heat Treatment

The microwave and oven ideas were not all the way misleading. In fact, they are the right idea but with the wrong execution. Heat treatment works and it kills bed bugs. It is very effective but it needs to be well utilized.

Some pest control officers use this as their go-to method. They bring a portable heater and raise the temperatures of your house to a degree that is unbearable for the bed bugs. This method is effective but it is also expensive and time-consuming.

Freezing The Bugs

Another very effective method is by taking the opposite route of the heat treatment and deep freezing your books.

Put your book in a zip lock bag and leave them in the deep freezer for a considerable amount of time, preferably overnight to ensure that those eggs have no chance of surviving.

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Bed bugs may prefer cooler temperatures but freezing temperatures are deadly for them.

Isolating Them

Another method is by isolating the bed bug population in your books and cutting it from the food chain. This can be done by putting the books in zip-lock bags and keeping them in storage.

This isn’t the most ideal way to eliminate the bugs because it takes a very long time for all the bed bugs to die. Remember, bed bugs do hibernate.

Using Pesticides

This is the most common way of dealing with bed bugs anywhere, including in your books. Using a spray can is very effective because then you are able to spray into the book’s spine where bed bugs are most likely hiding.

After you have treated your books using contact bed bug killer spray ensure that you use a residual spray to treat your bookshelf in order to keep bed bugs off your books for a long time to come.

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List of Sources

How to Kill Bed Bugs in Portable Items. The Ohio State University
Potter, M. Bed Bugs. Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
Diseases & Conditions – Bedbugs, Mayo Clinic

Thomas Matthews
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