An Invasion of Barklice Is Lucky—Just Like Having Ladybugs!

Updated on August 15, 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 and 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.

Source

Large swarms of these insects can be viewed in the video below 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.

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!

Barklice with her eggs
Barklice with her eggs | Source

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

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.

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

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!

Have you ever spotted barklice on your trees?

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Questions & Answers

  • Do large ants drive barklice in herds?

    Ants are omnivorous. They eat vegetable matter as well as animals including other insects. That, however, does not mean that they herd barklice.

    The barklice move as a group massed together much like a swarm of bees. If you place a stick near them, that will cause a wave-type movement away from that stick as if a large ant was near them. I actually did that once when we had barklice on one of our trees. Each time I placed the stick near the barklice, they would flow en masse in another direction.

© 2016 Peggy Woods

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      Barklice are truly beneficial creatures and I agree with you that nature is often wonderful. Thanks for the greetings of angels. Hope that this day has been a good one for you and your family.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 months ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Me back to read again. The tree in the video must have been very happy to have had so many of these critters stop by. How amazing nature is...I am in awe each time I read of something that creatures in nature do for our planet Once again my friend Angels are on the way. ps (In case you wonder...my comma is broken on my laptop and so are some other keys....so I try to improvise when I need one....one day I will get a new one or get this fixed...whichever happens first.) ps

    • profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      11 months ago

      Hi Patricia,

      I have only seen those barklice twice thus far. They were on one of my mother's trees at one time and then a couple of years later (after finding out the good that they do) on ours. Now I would welcome them just like the ladybugs.

    • profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      11 months ago

      Good morning...I learned a lot about bark lice...I don't think have ever seen them. Ladybugs...O yes....they make me smile every time I see one. Hoping all is good with you and yours. Angels are headed your way. ps

    • profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago

      Hi Nell,

      Yes, barklice are truly good vacuum cleaners for trees. Glad you found this to be interesting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      12 months ago from England

      Isn't it funny how we automatically think they are going to be bad guys? How interesting! I didn't realise that they were the trees little vacuum cleaners! Interesting article Peggy!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      13 months ago

      Your articles provide good and useful information.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      13 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      Ladybugs are great little creatures to have in a garden. Happy to have provided that information to you. I am always pleased to see them in our garden.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      13 months ago

      Thank you. I never knew lady bugs were beneficial to a garden.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years 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 

      2 years 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 imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years 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 

      2 years 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 imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years 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!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello moonlake,

      Thanks for sharing my hub about the benefits of discovering barklice on trees. Appreciate it!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      2 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this introduction to bark lice. I'm glad to learn about what they are and what they look like in cases I ever am lucky enough to see them. :)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      2 years ago from America

      I've never heard of barklice. Very interesting nice that they do so much good. Sharing your hub.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Shyron,

      Yes...barklice are good. So are preying mantis. They are both beneficial predators. Between working on my own website and checking the hundreds of ones on HP for discontinued eBay capsules...I have not written much new on here for a time. Hope all is well with you.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Hello my friend, I have missed you. I wish you had told me about the barklice a long time ago, maybe they could have eaten the fire ants at the base of my trees. Thank you for this valuable information.

      Do you know anything about the praying mantis?

      Blessings and hugs dear friend.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Glenis Rix,

      That must have been quite the invasion of ladybugs! Like you...I generally like letting nature take its course but do like keeping some insects at bay particularly if affecting our garden or house. Hope you discover something that works in your battle with the ants.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      GlenR 

      2 years ago from UK

      We have wood lice in our garden which look quite similar, so they may be the same creature with a different name. I recall that around 30 years ago there was a plague of ladybirds in England - so many that they covered the windscreen of my car.

      Generally, I prefer to let nature take it's course -but how I hate the infestation of ants in my garden and the brickwork of the house! I've tried all of the common remedies and don't think I will ever manage to reduce the numbers.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Frank,

      Happy to hear that reading this sparked your curiosity about barklice. Isn't the Internet fascinating! :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you for educating me, I have never heard of bark-lice.. had to google some more info.. just to get more images..

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello The Dirt Farmer,

      Yes, barklice is not the cutest name for these beneficial insects. I agree. :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Dianna,

      Now that I know what they are and the good that barklice do, I would not be afraid of them. Instead I find them to be fascinating. I'll admit that the first time I ever saw them...I was afraid of the damage they might be causing. So glad to find out the opposite! Glad to know that you found this to be informative.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      2 years ago from United States

      I've never seen these before. Fascinating! They really need a cuter name.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      I see from your poll that none of us who voted have ever heard of these bugs. The video was interesting but I hope to never see them on any of our trees. They may be good for nature but they are a little scary to watch. Thanks for educating me on the good side of this bug.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Audrey,

      Happy to be able to introduce the information regarding barklice to you. Perhaps you will be lucky and have some visit your trees someday. :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      You are lucky indeed if you have had that webbing from barklice on your trees. :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      2 years ago from California

      I have never heard of barklice before! Thank you!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 years ago from USA

      So that's what that spider web looking material is! I've been mystified and frustrated for no good reason! Thank you for this information.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Linda,

      Happy to be able to share these facts about the barklice with you as well as info. regarding ladybugs. Most people know about the latter.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've shared some interesting and useful information, Peggy. I didn't realize that barklice could be so helpful.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rachel,

      That is precisely why I thought that I would pass along this information to others. Most people who would see barklice for the first time would think that horrible things are taking place on their trees. In fact it is just the opposite! Hope all is well with you! :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi ChitrangadaSharan,

      I shy away from most insects also but do find them interesting creatures. When I first spotted barklice I thought that my tree was in for some serious trouble. Happily I found out that they benefit a tree instead. Happy to share this information with others. :)

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Peggy. I have never heard of bark lice before. If I saw them on my tree, I would think it had to be cut down, so thanks for sharing the information and videos about bark lice.

      Blessings to you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very informative hub about Barklice and other insects. I am not very fond of insects but your hub informs they are good news.

      A well researched hub with great pictures and I appreciate your observation about these beautiful creatures.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi thumbi7,

      Glad I could introduce you to these types of beneficial insects.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very interesting and informative hub about Barklice! I am not very fond of insects but as you say they are good news for trees. I have seen ladybugs on some occasions but did not know much about them.

      Very well researched article and the pictures are incredible. I appreciate your knowledge and understanding these beautiful and important creatures and also for sharing this with others.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      2 years ago from India

      Thank you for the information on bark lice. This is very new

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