Christmas Barklice

2018 December 10

Barklice (family Psocidae) are possibly one of the most Christmassy of insects. Why do I say that? Well, because they frequently are found in the house over Christmas, but not at other times. And there is a very good reason for that: they live in the types of trees that people like for Christmas trees. Here are some examples from just before last Christmas, December 24, 2017. They came into our house on the Balsam Fir that Sam and Sandy cut and brought in from our back yard.


There were quite a number of them, mostly clustering on our windows. What apparently happens is, barklice overwinter as nearly-mature nymphs, and hibernate in crevices in the tree bark. So, when we cut down the tree out back and brought it into the house, the sudden warmth convinced them that it was spring, so they went through their final molt and emerged as their winged forms.


They look like little gnats only a few millimeters long, but you can distinguish them from gnats by the way that their eyes bug out to the sides.

Anyway, these are completely harmless to both humans and to your houseplants. Once they leave the tree, they are completely unsuited to continue living in your house, and will sadly die off fairly quickly. I know a lot of people freak out when they get a sudden insect infestation, but these are nothing to worry about. They are kind of inevitable if you use natural Christmas trees, though. Them, or Psyllids, which we have also gotten in the past. So anyone who is really bothered by even harmless insects in the house should probably stick with artificial trees. Or maybe a Festivus Pole.

3 Responses
  1. Carole permalink
    December 10, 2018

    Upon reading the title, expected pileated barklice.
    Best to you and yours. Thank you for you fine information this year.

  2. December 11, 2018


    Thanks for the warning re barklice on Christmas trees. Anyone cutting their own tree this season may wish to wish to visit to learn about ticks and Christmas trees

  3. James Bowen permalink
    December 24, 2018

    I found your website facinating. Sandy included it in her summaryof your activities for the year which was included in the Christmas card. I was very pleased to receive the card as it gave me a way to contact you and your family. please emailme at the address given as I have much news that I would like to share.

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