Hi there friends at What’s That Bug,
I am writing from the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada….a team of our field staff from the Conservation Authority came across this mass on a tree and even our entomologist is stumped….we tried to send it to you back in June but didn’t hear back from you….we understand that you receive a high volume. Any help with the ID of these critters would be most helpful. They are doing a lot of damage in one particular area of this forest. Thanks and we love your site!!!!
Other than suspecting that these are Beetle Larvae, we cannot provide you with any information. This type of aggregation would indicate a food source like perhaps fungus. Are you certain the larvae are responsible for the damage? It is possible something else is weakening the trees and the beetles are feeding on fungus on a damaged tree. Your letter did not really describe the damage. We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide any information. We strongly recommend that you post your images to BugGuide.net as individuals can write in an comment and there are many knowledgeable contributors.
I have no idea on the larval aggregation, though in some respects they actually resemble thrips rather than beetle larvae. I’ll be interested to learn the consensus should the images be posted to Bugguide. An indication of size would also help immensely. … If I learn anything more about the red and black “beetle” larvae, I’ll let you know.
Update: 20 September 2008
Red Tube-tailed Thrips
A fellow by the name of Ken Ramos actually tracked down the ID, from some of his own pictures of similar beasts.
See http://www.photomacrography. net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5888 .
Hope this helps!
We will also be linking to the BugGuide page on the family Phlaeothripidae, the Tube Tailed Thrips.
Update: Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 9:48 AM
The Red and Black Thrips posted by the Canadians is Hoplandrothrips brunneicornis. I intercepted specimens coming from Ontario on firewood and sent them to the Smithsonian. The adults were black and the immatures were red. They inhabited logs with fungal rot and fungus beetle larvae on them. The adults had enlarged front legs almost raptorial like a predator. However, most thrips are plant feeders. So it’s a mystery if they were feeding on the fungus or the fungus beetle larvae. Not much literature exists about this species.