Actual book-borers are uncommon. Two moths, the common clothes moth and the brown house moth, will attack cloth bindings. Leather-bound books attract various beetles, such as the larder beetle and the larva of the black carpet beetle and Stegobium paniceum. Larval death watch beetles and common furniture beetles will tunnel through wood, and through paper if it is nearby the wood.
A major book-feeding insect is the book or paper louse (also known as booklouse or paperlouse). These are tiny (under 1 mm), soft-bodied wingless Psocopterans (usually Trogium pulsatorium), which actually feed on microscopic molds and other organic matter found in ill-maintained works (e.g., cool, damp, dark, and undisturbed areas of archives, libraries, and museums), although they will also attack bindings and other book parts. The booklouse is not a true louse.
Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1907–1916, Augustine Birrell once recounted a situation in which a bookworm had eaten through to the 87th page of a fifteenth-century vellum book. By the twentieth century, modern bookbinding materials thwarted much of the damage done to books by various types of book-boring insects.
- "John Francis Xavier O'Conor, Facts about bookworms: their history in literature and work in libraries (New York: Francis P. Harper, 1898.)
- John V. Richardson Jr., “Bookworms: The Most Common Insect Pests of Paper in Archives, Libraries, and Museums”
- "Timber Borers - Anobium & Lyctus Borers"
- Thomas A Parker "Study on integrated pest management for libraries and archives" - prepared by Thomas A Parker for the General Information Programme and UNISIST (Paris: Unesco, 1988)