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Psocid Barklice (Cerastipsocus venosus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Psocid Barklice

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Psocid Barklice nymphs travel in large groups and look troublesome, but their diet of exterior plant material make them good tree cleaners.

Updated: 05/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The term 'lice' tends to make people uneasy, but these are not the blood-sucking lice normally associated with the human body. Apart from their small size, they have nothing in common with human lice. Psocid Barklice are chewing insects and they do a stand up job of eating fungus, lichen, algae, broken bark, and other plant debris off of tree trunks. They prefer damp areas where the humidity helps foster growth and degradation of their food. Their nymphs often congregate around an area of the tree with algae or lichens on it and remove that patch, then move on to another. Like most large groups of adolescents, they tend to cause apprehension in observing adults, but Psocid Barklice are harmless. They do not sting or bite people and they do not harm the tree they are gleaning from.

Look for them in forests and wooded areas. Conifers and deciduous trees are both likely to have them if trunks are laden with growth. Psocid Barklice are active from spring to autumn in colder states and provinces, and all year in warmer southern areas. Adults are winged and may be seen near nymphs.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Psocoptera
        Family: Psocidae
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          Genus: Cerastipsocus
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            Species: venosus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Cerastipsocus venosus
Other Name(s): Tree Cattle
Category: Chewing Lice
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 6mm (0.11" to 0.23")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; green; brown
Descriptors: small; fast; bands; stripes; bee-like; tree; bark; cluster; congregate

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 3mm (0.1in) and 6mm (0.2in)
Lo: 3mm
Md: 4.5mm
Hi: 6mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Psocid Barklice may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Psocid Barklice. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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