A collection of used books

Are Used Books Something to Worry About?

There’s no place quite like a bookstore. The quiet atmosphere, the smell of old books, the adventures waiting on each page of the hundreds of books surrounding you- there’s just no better place to spend a rainy day. However, there might be more than mythical creatures lurking inside those books, waiting to be discovered. Believe it or not, your favorite bookstore could be hiding bed bugs! 

Bookworm Bugs

Bed bugs hiding in books might sound like a ridiculous problem, but it’s definitely possible. Bed bugs are very small (a fully grown bed bug is about the size of an apple seed), so it’s entirely possible for one to sneak into a book. You might be thinking that they should be easy to get rid of- after all, if they’re hiding on the pages of a book, they’d be crushed when that book gets closed. However, they don’t usually hide on the pages (though they’re small and flat, so it’s possible). Their main hiding place is between the spine and the pages of a hardback book. There’s usually a gap in between the spine and where the pages are glued down, and it makes the perfect cozy home for a bed bug. 

Bed Bug Heaven

It’s really easy to get bed bugs in a used bookstore. If someone has a bed bug problem in their home and they decide to sell back a few books, the bugs could easily come along for a ride and find a nice new home. Used bookstores can be like heaven to a bed bug- plenty of places to hide, probably a few pieces of furniture for people to sit down and read, and plenty of books to explore. When you think about how close books are to each other on bookshelves, it’s easy to imagine bed bugs crawling out of one book and into another, and before you know it, the whole bookstore has a bug problem. Of course, there’s also ample opportunity for the bugs to find a new house to inhabit. All it takes is someone buying a used book and bringing it home. Curling up in bed with a good book is a great relaxing pastime, but it could introduce those bugs to their new favorite place to be: your bed. 

Bed Bugs in Libraries

used library booksLibraries have had problems with bed bugs as well, and some have even had to close down temporarily in order to take care of the infestation. It’s a problem in libraries for the same reason that it’s a problem in bookstores: lots of used books in very close proximity, being loaned out to many different people. Libraries are also public spaces with lots of people coming in and out, sitting in armchairs or at computers. This is another way for bed bugs to spread.

Leaving the Bugs Behind

There are some easy precautions you can take to ensure that no extra creatures make it into your books when you buy them from a used bookstore. First off, go for paperbacks rather than hardbacks when possible. Bed bugs can still hide away in paperback books, but it’s more difficult since they don’t usually have that space in between the spine and the pages. It’ll be a tighter fit, and the bed bugs won’t be as comfortable there, so you run a lower risk with paperbacks. Second, performing a quick bed bug check is never a bad idea. Skim through the book and look for black or rust-colored dots (bed bug feces) on the pages, as well as dark spots that may be crushed bed bugs on the pages. If you’re looking at a hardback book, shine a flashlight into the space where the spine meets the pages. If you see any dark spots in there, it might be a good idea to put that book back. Also, if you find evidence of bed bugs in any books in a particular store or library, don’t just put that book back and go get another one! Bed bugs are really good at exploring and finding new places to hide, so it’s possible that they’re spread out all through the store. You should bring the book in question up to someone who works there, and inform them of the problem so that they can treat it. 

What if I Find Bed Bugs in My Books?

Don’t panic if you bring a used book home and find out later that there are bed bugs in it. There’s actually a simple solution, and while it might sound crazy, it works: put them in the oven for a while. Temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit will kill a bed bug if that bug is exposed to those temperatures for about an hour. It is perfectly safe to put books in the oven so long as you keep the temperature below about 400 degrees. Paper does not burn until it hits 451 degrees. Simply put the books in the oven, turn it to a low setting (175-200 degrees Fahrenheit), and leave it for an hour. However, be careful to remove any plastic covers on the books before putting them in the oven. Do not attempt to microwave your books. The temperatures will not stay high for a long enough period of time to take care of the bugs. Once you treat those books, it’s a good idea to check for signs of bed bugs in other areas, especially areas where you’ve been reading, just to make sure they haven’t spread throughout your home. 

Got a Bed Bug Problem?

If bugs have invaded your home after a bookstore visit, we can help! Bed Bug BBQ uses heat treatment to get rid of bed bugs. This bed bug extermination process gets rid of bed bugs in just one day, is safe for all types of homes and businesses, and won’t fill your home with chemicals! Contact Bed Bug BBQ today for a FREE quote and inspection at (216) 221-1227 or through our website! Check out our other bed bug informational resources on identification, prevention, and eradication.

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