Tree Cattle

What on earth?
Hey Bugman.
Your site has become a favorite of mine lately. Who knew there were so many weird bugs in South Georgia? I have found most of them fairly quickly. These were on a tree locally known as a swamp maple. We’re about 20 miles inland from the mouth of the Savannah River. They were moving in a cluster from the ground up, stopping and re-grouping at knots and dark spots on the bark. They are about three eighths of an inch long. Tan striped box elder bugs??? Really curious what they are and what they are doing….kind of looks like moving a queen or something. (Also happy to finally get a decent photo of a bug to ask about! I have blurry bad shots of bordered leaf bugs, cicada killers, winged ant lions, and a couple of whatzits! Macro is new to me) Thanks,

Hi Cleo,
These wonderful insects are known as Tree Cattle or Bark Lice. Though they might appear to be harmful insects, they are actually quite beneficial. They feed on debris found on the trunks of trees including lichen, moss, algae, fungi, spores, pollen and possibly the remains of other insects. The larger winged insect in your photo is the adult and the others are immature numphs.

Leave a Comment