Silverfish & Firebrats
If the pages and bindings of books in your bookcase have been chewed on, suspect the look-alike household pests–silverfish and firebrats.
Silverfish are shiny, silver or pearl gray, and firebrats are shiny, mottled gray. Adults of both are slender, wingless, soft-bodied insects. They have scaly bodies that taper gradually to the rear with two slender antennae in front and three long, thin appendages in back. The presence of scales around or under the damage is a good indication that these pests are the culprits.
Silverfish live and develop in damp, cool places, particularly in basements and laundry rooms. Firebrats thrive best in very warm, moist places. They may be found around ovens, heating units, fireplaces, hot water pipes, the attic in summer, and near the furnace in winter. In apartments and homes, the insects crawl along pipelines and through openings in the walls or floors from basements to rooms above.
Silverfish and firebrats can be found in any part of the home. Because they are seeking food, they choose bookcases, closets, and places where books, clothing, starch, or sugar foods are available. They hide in baseboards and around window and door frames from which they seek out food sources. Sometimes they are seen in the bathtub or sink. They do not crawl up through the drain, but fall in and cannot climb up the slippery sides to escape.
Large numbers of these insects may invade new homes from surrounding wild areas, especially as these areas dry in summer. They may be brought in on lumber, wallboard, or similar products. Freshly laid cement and green lumber supply humidity, and wallpaper paste provides them with food.