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Invasion of Barklice is Lucky Just Like Having Ladybugs!

Updated on March 1, 2017
Peggy W profile image

My grandpa loved gardening. I learned much from him. To this day I enjoy puttering around in our garden growing plants for beauty & food.

Barklice are Good Guys!

I will never forget the first time I saw a mass grouping of insects like this on our oak tree in our Houston garden some years ago! There seemed to be hundreds of them and I became worried as to what kind of damage they would inflict.


Large swarms of these insects can be viewed in the video to the right on the bark of a crape myrtle tree.

Doing some research it turns out that this is one of two different types of barklice that occasionally appear in our Houston and Galveston, Texas landscapes as well as elsewhere.

This larger soft bodied one which appears in large groupings consumes smaller bugs, algae and dead material on the trunks of trees without harming the tree at all.

Think of them as an efficient maid service using vacuum cleaners cleaning the surfaces of the tree. Where they congregate and move...the tree is better off for having had their visits. And the best part...all of this is done free of charge! There will be no cleaning bill presented when they leave.

Barklice with her eggs
Barklice with her eggs | Source

A smaller type of this insect works under a silky white webbing which encases the trunk while they do their same scouring type of work. The cobweb type webbing eventually disappears on its own.

The white webbing looks a bit like spider webs but thicker. The small insects lay their eggs under this webbing. Eventually when the young are ready to move on to other locations, the webbing is eaten.

Prior to that any algae on the tree or other sources of food will have been scoured from all the nooks and crannies of the bark.

So fear not if you see the quarter inch sized Cerastipsocus venosus ones as featured in the picture at the top of this page or the smaller ones called Archipsocus nomas appearing under those white webs.

They are small but powerful scavenger insects that are truly beneficial. We should lay out the red carpet for them!

You can see the more mature insects in this video below and learn even more about them.

Ladybug will be eating these aphids.
Ladybug will be eating these aphids. | Source

Beneficial Insects

Some people might consider the webbing on trees from barklice to be unsightly. If that is the case water under high pressure from a hose might be able to eliminate the webs. However...knowing how beneficial these insects truly are to a tree...you might alter your perception of any webbing found on your trees.

I know that I will be welcoming them in the future should they appear on any of our trees. It is too bad that they cannot be purchased and introduced to our landscapes just like ladybugs.

People can easily purchase ladybugs! Those type of insects feed on aphids and scale which can be detrimental to plants in home gardens or vast fields of agriculture. In fact I just checked on Amazon and for $19 about 1,500 live ladybugs could be purchased! They even sell ladybug habitats, ladybug attractants and ladybug nectar.

Worldwide...ladybugs are a symbol of luck!

My grandpa taught me about the value of having ladybugs in a garden. Every time I see one I am happy. I remember the times I spent wandering in my grandpa's garden when I was a youngster. It brings back fond childhood memories for me. His love of gardening also helped to feed our family good nutritious food on a year round basis.

Grandpa used organic gardening methods as a matter of course. I don't ever remember him using chemicals in his garden. Pesticides kill beneficial insects as well as the bad guys. It is much better to have ladybugs eating aphids than using chemicals on ridding aphids from plants in a garden.

If anyone ever decides to sell barklice...there would undoubtedly be a market for them as there currently is for ladybugs!

© 2016 Peggy Woods


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Nell Rose,

      Like you...I am always happy to see ladybugs in our yard...and have now added barklice as being happy to see. We see many more ladybugs than the barklice. Thanks for your comment.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 8 months ago from England

      Thanks for this interesting hub Peggy, never knew about lark lice, but love the ladybirds/bugs we have had loads over here recently!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi colorfulone,

      I am so glad that you found this hub to be informative. While we have only once had the barklice visiting us, we often see ladybugs. I am always happy to view them in our yard and garden.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 8 months ago from Minnesota

      One thing is for sure, I know I can always learn something new to me when visiting one of your hubs, Peggy. I never heard of barklice before. I ts interesting to find out how beneficial some insects are, like the ladybugs. - Kudos!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Roberta,

      At least if you someday see barklice, you won't be frightened by them. Nice to be of service in the education department. Ha!

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