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

Subject: household bug, a few living in my computer… nothing to worry about?
Location: Oakland, California
March 30, 2017 5:37 pm
Hello, bugman! Thank you from the bottom of my heart … and floorboards? … for all that you’re doing to ID bugs. These little mites might be harmless, as I haven’t seen a single bite yet, but there are many dozens of them every month crawling along the wooden floorboards of my apartment in Oakland, California. A few appear on my computer from time to time. What do you think? Harmless?
Signature: David

Booklouse

Dear David,
Though they are quite small, this is not a Mite.  It is a Booklouse, an innocuous creature that could become a nuisance if they get plentiful.  According to the North Carolina State University Department of Entomology:  “The presence of booklice can be quite an annoyance; however, they rarely cause significant damage to items. Most often, the damp conditions and developing mold or fungi have already caused the damage.” 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Need identification
Location: 44.703093,-63.610989
January 5, 2017 10:59 pm
Being having crawling sensations on me for the last two years.
Sorry for the bad pictures i had to put transparent tape over it.
I got this when i stop at Burnside motel in Dartmouth NS.
Signature: Celine

Booklouse

Dear Celine,
This is a Booklouse in the family Liposcelididae, and according to BugGuide they are found:  “
worldwide and across NA; many spp. are now nearly cosmopolitan or otherwise widely spread through agency of man, mostly with stored products” and their habitat is “under bark, in ant nests, in homes.”  According to Penn State Department of Entomology:  “Booklice, also called psocids, are not true lice. While they resemble lice in size and shape, booklice feed only on fungi or mold. If you find them in grain or other stored food products, it is an indication of high humidity which encourages mold growth. In addition to food products, psocids may be found under wallpaper, in furniture, along the sides of windows or on window sills around potted plants. Booklice do not bite, transmit disease, or damage food or fabric, but they can be very annoying when present in large numbers.”  The site also states:  “Booklice feed on molds and will overrun cereals and similar materials that support mold growth. Their presence, therefore, is a nuisance and can render some foods unfit. The starchy paste of wallpaper and books also can support mold growth or may be attacked directly by booklice. Outside of annoyance, their damage is insignificant.”

Booklouse

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown bug
Location: Gainesville, FL
December 13, 2016 9:34 am
I found this swarm of little bugs after trying to watery cactus. There’s was thousands of them! All over the cactus! I don’t know what they are. Can you help? They were livingin the soul and carrying either eggs or larvae when I disturbed them.
Signature: Trevor Forrest

Booklice

Booklice or Ghost Ants

Dear Trevor,
The behavior you describe, “carrying either eggs or larvae when I disturbed them”, implies they are social insects like Ants, but the image you provided appears more like Booklice in the genus
Liposcelis which is pictured on BugGuide.  Alas, two of your attached images are too blurry to ascertain any details, and the third image does not provide a large enough view to be certain.  According to BugGuide, Booklice are found:  “worldwide and across NA; many spp. are now nearly cosmopolitan or otherwise widely spread through agency of man, mostly with stored products(” and their habitat is “under bark, in ant nests, in homes” which makes sense based on your account.  Booklice are considered benign unless they are plentiful enough to present a nuisance, or if they infest stored food products.  Since you seem pretty certain they were transporting eggs and larvae, we suspect they are most likely Ghost Ants, Tapinoma melanocephalum, which are also pictured on BugGuide and according to BugGuide:  “native to the Old World tropics, adventive elsewhere; in our area, established in FL (expanding) and reached TX in mid-1990s (prob. through Galveston on a shipment of plants from FL); infestations reported in many areas as far north as MB, but in cooler areas the ant can only survive indoors (greenhouses, etc.)”  We would favor the Ghost Ant ID.  If you get better images, please submit them.  Because we will be away from the office during the holidays, we are postdating your submission to go live at the end of the month.

Booklice

Booklice or Ghost Ants

Thank you for the info. I’m not quite sure they are either. I tried to get better pictures,  but they were moving really fast and everything came out blurry. I looked now and they are all back from where they came in the soil of the cactus. They did leave behind a bunch tiny white balls on the surface though.

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Subject: Bugs on crape myrtle
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
June 11, 2016 8:48 am
Can you tell me what this is? Just noticed while cutting grass.
Signature: Cody

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Dear Cody,
These are Barklice or Tree Cattle.  They are benign creatures that do not harm the tree as they feed on lichens that frequently grow on older trees.  Your image contains mostly striped nymphs, though if you look closely, you will see a few winged adults.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown group of bugs
Location: Coastal NC
May 28, 2016 4:55 am
We live on the mainland of Holden Beach, NC. I have never seen this bug but all of a sudden this week I have noticed several clusters of bugs on several of my live oak trees. It is May 28th.
Please help me to identify these creatures. Some clusters are smaller than others. Do I need an exterminator and will they destroy my trees? Some of these clusters are like 8×8 inches. This is creeping me out, I’m not a bug lover, just a bird lover, but yet I havent seen any birds eating them. I wish they would.
Thank you!
Signature: Loretta

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Dear Loretta,
These benign Barklice are sometimes called Tree Cattle because of the large aggregations of winged adults and wingless nymphs that they form on trees with lichen growth.  They feed on the lichens, and they do not damage the trees.  Though we are responding to you on the day you submitted your request, we will not be posting your submission until mid-June while our editorial staff is away from the office.

Thank you Daniel!  I did look at your description of Barklice earlier, but just wasn’t sure.  So glad I asked.  Thank you for your quick response.
Have a good weekend.
Loretta

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mystery bugs
Location: St Petersburg, FL
April 10, 2016 5:30 pm
Hi— while walking my dog the other day I came across a swarming group of insects on the side of a small tree in the early morning, which included the nymphs. When I returned an hour later to take more photos, they had entirely disappeared. I posted a picture on Instagram and many people were interested in knowing what they could be. An online friend had posted a picture from Tennessee that showed the nymphs w/o any adults. I live in the Tampa Bay Area. Do you have any idea what they are? Many thanks for any help you can provide!
Signature: KARBARG

Tree Cattle

Tree Cattle

Dear KARBARG,
These benign insects are Barklice or Tree Cattle,
Cerastipsocus venosus.  The feed on lichens and do not harm the trees upon which they are found.

Many, many thanks for identifying them. I spotted three more groups this morning on another oak in the neighborhood. I’m very happy to share this information with my Instagram friends 🙋🏻💕

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination