Creepy Crawlers

Archives strive to acquire, preserve and make accessible archival records; however, some insects value these records for their taste rather than their archival value. Here are some insects whose food source may be located in your archives:


Photo credit: Valter Jacinto


  • Found in North America
  • Like warm, humid climates
  • Signs of infestation include uneven holes and edges, visible feces and discolouration (yellow stains)
  • Identification: body is carrot shaped, approximately 12.5 mm, covered in scales, usually gray in colour, three pronged tail
  • Feed on starch, such as paper, adhesive paste, and book bindings
  • Average lifespan is 2 – 3.5 years
  • Climate control and regular cleaning regime is the best form of control

Photo credit: Malcolm Tattersall

Book Lice

  • Found in North America
  • Like cooler, humid climates (9-15°C and relative humidity 50% and higher)
  • Signs of infestation include the presence of booklice (they eat very slowly and damage is usually minor)
  • Identification: translucent, gray or brown body, less than 4 mm, back legs are thicker than front four legs, wingless
  • Feed on mould and fungi found on food, paper and wheat starch paste
  • Average lifespan is 24 – 110 days
  • Humidity control is the best form of control

Photo credit: e_monk

Varied Carpet Beetle

  • Found in North America
  • Most commonly brought indoors on clothing and in floral arrangements
  • Signs of infestation include presence on windowsills and damage to fabrics
  • Identification: round body covered in white, brown and dark yellow scales, approximately 6 mm, larvae covered in hair
  • Feed on silk, leather, furs, wool and carpets (larvae) and pollen and nectar (adults)
  • Average lifespan is approximately 1 year
  • Insect traps are the best way to control an infestation

Photo credit: Mohammed El Damir

Casemaking Clothes Moth

  • Found in North America
  • Like dark spaces and are weak flyers (will only fly around infested area)
  • Signs of infestation include visible fecal matter and cases attached to infested material or the walls/ceiling near infested material
  • Identification: body and wings are a golden yellow, approximately 10 mm wingspan, long, narrow wings, larvae carry case which takes on colour of food source
  • Feed on rugs, wool, feathers, felts, hair and furs
  • Average lifespan is less than 4 months (adults life for 4-6 days)
  • Active IPM system is best form of control

Photo credit: David Short

Brown House Moth

  • Found in North America
  • Most active during summer and autumn
  • Signs of infestation include larvae’s cocoons on or near food source
  • Identification: brown wings with dark brown spots, between 8-15 mm long, larva head is tan with a white body
  • Feed on paper, book bindings, dry organic material, carpets, dried specimens and furs
  • Average lifespan is one year
  • Active IPM system is best form of control

This information was summarized from the Pest Fact Sheets, which is a great resource to help identify common pests:

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