Currently viewing the category: "Booklice and Barklice"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Beetle w/ yellow horizontal stripes

Location: Little Rock, AR US
October 29, 2014 8:45 am
I cut down a small dead tree in our yard the other day and these little beetles were everywhere. they’d swarm together in groups and make their way up and down the tree after i disturbed them.
Signature: Tim

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Dear Tim,
These are not beetles.  They are benign, immature Bark Lice, commonly called Tree Cattle.  They are often associated with dead and dying trees because they feed on lichens and fungus, but they do not harm living trees.
  Mature Bark Lice have black wings that cover the striped bodies.

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Daniel,
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it.
I left the critters alone.  Wasn’t sure if they were the cause of the problem or not, but it’s nice to know they weren’t.
It was interesting, watching them scurrying around on the tree in large, but  separate groups.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question and help in identifying them.
-=tim

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Creepy Tree Bugs
Location: Abingdon, Virginia
September 20, 2014 2:29 pm
My 7-year-old was climbing a dogwood tree in our front yard when she suddenly started shrieking. She said there were bugs everywhere, and there were stains on her shirt where she had squished several. Once I got her down, I examined the tree and found this pile of little beasties. It is mid-September, and we are in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. She has climbed this tree in all seasons, but we haven’t seen these bugs before. They freaked her out pretty bad. What are they? Also, are they harmful? Thanks!
Signature: Staying Out of Trees for Awhile

Bark Lice

Bark Lice

Dear Staying Out of Trees for Awhile,
We hope we can mitigate any trauma your daughter experienced because of her encounter with these Bark Lice,
Cerastipsocus venosus.  Let her know that Bark Lice, which are sometimes called Tree Cattle, are benign creatures that are not harming the tree, though their presence might be symptomatic of a tree health issue.  Bark Lice feed on lichens and fungus, and sometimes older trees have fungus and lichens present.  The Bark Lice will not bite or otherwise harm humans.  See BugGuide and this University of Florida pdf for additional information on Bark Lice.

A herd of Tree Cattle, AKA Bark Lice

A herd of Tree Cattle, AKA Bark Lice

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Group of small greenstriped bugs on a tree
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada
August 9, 2014 7:59 pm
I found this group on bugs all grouped together on a tree in my yard. I thin its an ash or an oakWhat are these bastards?
Signature: Jonathan Bowie

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Dear Jonathan,
Since neither the church nor the state recognizes marriage between “bugs” or any other lower beasts for that matter, these Barklice or Tree Cattle cannot have been conceived out of wedlock.  Though they look potentially problematic, Tree Cattle are benign creatures that feed on lichen and fungus, and they will cause no harm to your trees, neither ash nor oak nor any other species.

Dear Daniel,
Please excuse my late reply. Many thanks for this information!
Have a great weekend,
Jonathan Bowie

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What are these bugs and do we need to remove them??
Location: Southern Louisiana
August 2, 2014 3:33 pm
Hi! my husband was working on the trees in our yard and found these bugs on one of our crepe myrtles and on a live oak tree. Both trees are on the north side of the house. The other crepe myrtle, on the southern side, and the two nuttal oaks, in the front yard, do not seem to have these bugs (at least not that we’ve found).
They are in clusters and from a distance look like black patches on the bark. I’ve included two pics, one is a close up shot the other is a bit farther away. The ones I saw were moving and they moved together.
Hope you can help!
Signature: Mandy

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Dear Mandy,
Though they look highly problematic, these Barklice or Tree Cattle in the genus
Cerastipsocus, and most likely Cerastipsocus venosus, are harmless, benign insects that feed upon lichens.  From the look of your image, there is an ample food source for them on the trunk of the tree.  We are highly intrigued by your comment that they “were moving and they moved together” because they indicates they move like a herd.  We cannot recall having researched the origin of the common name Tree Cattle, and that seems like a very good rationale for the name.  According to Michigan State University Extension:  “Tree cattle, Cerastipsocus venosus (Psocoptera: Psocidae) are large barklice and get their common name from their habit of forming large colonies that move about in unison (much like a herd of cattle, I guess). Tree cattle are harmless and no cause for concern.  According to University of Florida Horticulture:  “Suring some years they make extensive silken webs that often cover the trunks and branches of live oaks in the southeastern U.S.  The webs are believed to protect the barklice from predators.  To some, the glistening webs are unsightly, but neither the barklice nor the webs will cause any harm to trees.  This is referred to as a NBD, ‘no big deal’ bug.  these insects are scavengers, cleaning the bark of lichens, fungi and dead animal and plant matter.  The adult barklice are brownish-black and approximately 1/4 inch long.  the immature stage or nymphs, are brownish-gray and resemble the adults, except they are wingless.  The adults and nymphs feed in a group.  When the webbing is disturbed they scatter rapidly as a group and are referred to, in the older literature, as tree cattle because of this herding behavior.”  According to the Galveston County Master Gardeners Beneficials in the Garden site:  “The term ‘lice’ as part of the common name of these tree dwellers is quite misleading as these insects are neither parasitic nor louse-like in appearance. Upon being informed of the identification of this insect, the typical response of a gardener is a widening of the eyes and other momentary indications of being aghast! Our Galveston County Extension Horticulture Agent advises us to precede the identification with a notation of  ‘Congratulations, you have beneficial insects in your landscape!’  When disturbed, Cerastipsocus venosus exhibits the fascinating behavior of moving en masse, somewhat like a flock of sheep or herd of cattle. They may also temporarily scatter when suddenly disturbed, only rejoin again as a “herd.” Not surprisingly, they are also known as “bark cattle” or “tree cattle.” Barklice are most often noticed on smooth-barked shrubs and trees such as crape myrtle and on oaks although they occur on a variety of hardwood ornamental plants (we have seen them on Bradford pear).”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wtb?
Location: Delaware
June 28, 2014 5:35 am
I have found a swarm on my oak tree in delaware. I’m attaching a video and photo. Should I try to get rid of them? They look harmless but I don’t want to lose my tree that is holding up the treehouse.
Signature: Robin

Barklice

Barklice

Hi Robin,
As you have surmised, these Barklice,
Cerastipsocus venosus, are harmless, despite the alarming appearance of being an infestation.  Barklice, also called Tree Cattle, feed on lichens and they are benign, hence they will not cause harm to the tree or the folks using your treehouse.

Thank you! That was very informative and helpful!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bug identification
Location: Bandung, Indonesia.
April 7, 2014 2:20 pm
North west Bandung, Indonesia.
Adjacent to a small stream. Altitude 1000m. Towards end of wet season.
Location – Lat: -6.8468, Long: 107.5815
Found feeding on a leaf, but not on the leaf itself, some kind of deposit. When I disturbed the leaf, the bugs did not take flight, just scrambled about.
Size – small, about 6mm long. My first thought was a fly, but the antennae don’t seem right. Also there is no visible ‘drumstick’. A group of 3 ocelli are visible, so this rules out moth. The bugs were not bothered by my intrusion, so this rules out wasps. The eyes are small, indicating a nocturnal bug. The time was 09:11 (dawn 05:30).
Hope you can help.
Dave
Signature: Vodkaman

Barklice, we believe

Barklice, we believe

Dear Vodkaman,
These creatures resemble North American Barklice in the suborder Psocomorpha, and armed with that information, we did locate a similar looking Barklouse image on the Potokito Myshot Blog, but we have not been able to locate any other images to substantiate our supposition.  That individual, which is not an exact match to your images, is classified as:  “Suborder : Psocomorpha, Infraorder : Caeciliusetae, Family : Caeciliusidae – Lizard Barklice, Genus :
Valenzuela.”  According to BugGuide:  “Barklice feed on lichens and fungi on tree bark.”  We will try to do additional research on your request.

Barklouse, we believe

Barklouse, we believe

Barklice, we believe

Barklice, we believe

 

  

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination